Special Panel

Special Panel: Middle East Today: What is Missing in the Media?
Juan Ricardo Cole is a public intellectual, prominent blogger and essayist, and the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three and a half decades, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. His most recent book is The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East (Simon & Schuster, July 2014). He also authored Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007) and many other books. He has translated works of Lebanese-American author Kahlil Gibran. He has appeared on PBS’s Lehrer News Hour, ABC World News Tonight, Nightline, the Today Show, Charlie Rose, Anderson Cooper 360, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes’ All Inn, the Colbert Report, Democracy Now! and many others. He has given many radio and press interviews. He has written widely about Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and South Asia. He has written about the upheavals in the Arab World since 2011, including about Sunni extremist groups and Shiite politics. He has regular columns at The Nation and Truthdig. Cole commands Arabic, Persian and Urdu and reads Turkish, knows both Middle Eastern and South Asian Islam. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for more than a decade, and continues to travel widely there.
Bessma Momani is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo and the Balsillie School of International Affairs, a Senior fellow at the Centre for International Governance and Innovation (CIGI), and a 2015 Fellow of the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. She has been Non-Resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., a Canada-US Fulbright Scholar, Visiting Scholar at Georgetown University’s Mortara Center, and Visiting Scholar at the Amman Institute in Jordan. She has authored and co-edited over eight books and over 55 scholarly, peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters that have examined the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, petrodollars, regional trade agreements in the Middle East and economic liberalization throughout the Arab Gulf and the Middle East. Dr. Momani has received a number of Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council awards and prizes for her research on global economic governance and political economy of the Middle East. She is a regular media contributor to CBC radio and is a Middle East analyst on CTV News, CBC’s The National, Al-Jazeera English, Bloomberg TV, Business News Network (BNN) and TVO’s the Agenda. She has written for the New York Times, The Economist, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, The Ottawa Citizen, and many other reputable international newspapers.On the first point, I suggest that the Muslim Brotherhood should not stand in for the word “religion”, per se, but for a particular type of religion (or Islam) whose focus is on hierarchy, authority and political obedience while maintaining a strategically ambiguous and vague theological and legal profile perhaps in the service of those ends. I demonstrate that this emphasis on an authoritarian Islam — once it found its way to state power — proved deeply unpopular with Egyptians. On the second point I question whether the lens of “modernity” is the most useful one to apply to the historiography of the Muslim Brotherhood, and suggest an alternative lens, called the “sunnaic paradigm.”
Ramin Jahanbegloo is an Associate Professor and York-Noor Visiting Chair in Islamic Studies in the Department of Political Science at York University. He has been a researcher at the French Institute for Iranian Studies and a fellow at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. He is also a member of the advisory board of PEN Canada. He has won the Peace Prize from the United Nations Association in Spain (2009) for promoting dialogue between cultures and his advocacy for non-violence. Among his 20 books in English, French and Persian are Beyond Violence (Har-Anand 2008), India Analysed (Oxford University Press 2009), Talking Politics (Oxford University Press 2010), Civil Society and Democracy in Iran(Lexington Press, 2011), Democracy in Iran (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and The Gandhian Moment (Harvard University Press, 2013).
Tariq Ali has written over twenty books on world history and politics, seven novels, and scripts for the stage and screen. His books include The Obama Syndrome: Surrender at Home, War Abroad; Night of the Golden Butterfly; Islam Quintet; The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of the American Power; Conversations with Edward Said; Pirates of the Caribbean; Speaking of Empire and Resistance; Bush in Babylon: The Recolonization of Iraq; and The Clash of Fundamentalisms: Crusades, Jihad and Modernity. Tariq Ali is an editor of New Left Review and the recipient of the Granadillo Award (2010) for The Islam Quintet.