AEP NEWS & NOTES – JANUARY 2021     |     View this email in your browser

A Note from AEP Executive Director, Matthew Peterson

2020 was a year of uncertainties and rising tensions. That year is now in the past but its challenges remain, and they underscore the important work that lies ahead. On the threshold of this new year the Abdelkader Education Project (AEP) remains committed to countering ignorance with education, conflict with civility, and hate with tolerance for all. In a world of increasingly closed fists, AEP extends an open hand.

We believe fears can be replaced with empathy and kindness through education. With a detailed strategy, a revised organization, and renewed enthusiasm, AEP is entering 2021 with optimism and a conviction that our work is essential. We extend our gratitude to AEP supporters and friends who have made our work possible. We invite you to visit our new website ( to learn more about AEP and how you can help. 

Please join us as we continue to work toward a more educated and civil world.

Emir Abdelkader: How French Colonialism Created an Arab Hero in Iowa

Iowa is the only state in the U.S. that has a town named after an Arab Muslim hero. In 1846, Timothy Davis, the co-founder of Elkader, chose to name this settlement in honor of Emir Abdelkader. The emir led the fight against the French colonial conquest of what is now Algeria. Abdelkader’s humane treatment of prisoners was a precursor to the Geneva Convention on Human Rights, and he is celebrated worldwide for saving thousands of Christians in Damascus. AEP is sponsoring contests with special monetary awards for students and teachers as part of National History Day-Iowa. For details, please visit

Iowa History Month
Emir Abdelkader’s Life, Legacy and Impact on Iowa

The State Historical Society of Iowa is celebrating the 175th anniversary of Iowa by hosting an online learning series via Zoom during March. Programs focus on Iowa history through a cultural lens. Elkader, Iowa was named after Emir Abdelkader and the Abdelkader Education Project continues to tell the story through education initiatives and outreach.

JOIN US! On March 16 Noon to 1:00pmCT.  Presenters discussing Emir Abdelkader’s life, legacy and impact on Iowa are: Kathy Garms (Elkader), AEP Co-founder and board member; Matthew Peterson (Iowa native), AEP Executive Director; and John Kiser (Virginia) author of “Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abdelkader.”

To attend this free virtual event, please register on the Iowa Historical Society website at:

Finding Inspiration in Our Differences
A Blog by Kathryn Tyson
The year 2020 brought us a global pandemic. Social distancing has created fear and isolation among many people for many months. I’ve found hope in John Kiser’s transformational book The Monks of Tibhirine, an inspiring true story that was retold in the 2010 film Of Gods and Men. Kiser describes the struggle and perseverance of nine French Trappist monks living in a monastery in the Atlas Mountains during the 1990s Algerian civil war. Emir Abdelkader, a 19th-century Algerian Muslim Sufi who saved thousands of Christian lives in Syria, helped inspire the Catholic monks to devote themselves to Algeria and God. Both physically and spiritually, the monks lived in Abdelkader’s shadow. Many people tend to focus only on the history of violence between Christians and Muslims, but The Monks of Tibhirine debunks this crude narrative and highlights a compelling story of religious dialogue, compassion, and fortitude. Read more at

To receive AEP News & Notes directly, visit and sign-up in the right bottom corner. Stay informed of activities, events, and opportunities along with updates. Follow our journey and grow with us!

ABDELKADER EDUCATION PROJECT (AEP) is a 501c3 non-profit organization that promotes cultural literacy, civility, and respectful engagement between all people through education and outreach drawing on Emir Abdelkader’s life story and values – courage, integrity, intellect, humility and compassion – that transcend culture and faith traditions.

AEP DEVELOPMENT AND PROGRAM FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES are available. Becoming a sponsor demonstrates commitment to education in building cultural understanding and providing global perspectives for educators and students as well as business, social and political leaders of all faiths and cultures. To donate and learn more, please visit our website or contact



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