In this issue….AEP in France; 2012 in Review; Essay Contests; Unique Connections, Books and more!
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Project director, Kathy Garms and author John Kiser were invited recently to Lyon for the 160th anniversary of Emir Abdelkader’s voyage down the Saone River to Marseilles, following his liberation from prison. With a rich mix of Abdelkader admirers from Syria, Palestine, Britain, USA, France, Egypt, Turkey, Japan, Algeria, and Bulgaria, including 30 scholars, diplomats, artists, businessmen, Japanese and French youth, catholic clergy, and followers of Rumi and Alawiya Sufi traditions, the group gathered to revive the emir’s legacy of bridge building.
Principal organizers were the Alawiya Association led by Cheikh Khaled Bentounes and a social work association in Lyon, CLAP (connection, local, action, and plural). Under the direction of Fouad Chergui, CLAP is launching its own Abdelkader project and wants to learn more about the Abdelkader essay contests in the USA; particularly, how it might be adapted for French youth.
“We are really looking forward to a strong collaboration with AEP and coming to Iowa in May to meet American students,” said CLAP representative Ibby Benarabe.
MORE BOOKS ABOUT EMIR ABDELKADER – AVAILABLE IN ENGLISH John Kiser’s Commander of the Faithful…The Life and Times of Emir Abdelkader inspired young adult writer Elsa Marston to write The Compassionate Warrior, to be published by World Wisdom this spring. World Wisdom also translated Ahmed Bouyerdene’s book Emir Abdelkader, Hero and Saint of Islam and is now available.IOWA LIBRARY FOR THE BLIND A tape of John W. Kiser’s biography Commander of the Faithful…The Life and Times of Emir Abdelkader (1808-1883) is now available at the Iowa Library for the Blind. Thank you, Ruth Bickel!
AEP BROADENS INTERNATIONAL REACH French/Algerian musician Nassima Chaabane and film maker Salem Brahimi participated in the May AEP Forum; essay contest entries are accessible globally via the AEP website; and AEP is on Facebook and Twitter. John Kiser and Kathy Garms were invited to participate in international conferences in Lyon, France (“The Emir Abd el-Kader, One Man, One Destiny, One Message”) and in Tlemsen, Algeria (“Abdelkader: A Man for All Times”) along with representatives from Canada, Russia, Ukraine, Japan, Germany, France, Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Palestine, UK, France, Algeria, Bulgaria, and Morocco. New collaborations have added energy and new directions to AEP innovative endeavors.
The 4th annual AEP Forum, with esteemed speakers and cultural entertainment, honored Iowa Abdelkader essay winners at the high school and college levels along with the Massachusetts high school essay winners.
ANNUAL ESSAY CONTEST EXPANDS The Abdelkader Global Leadership Prize: Past Serving the Present is offered nationwide in separate contests to all high school and college students including international students. Essays are due March 15, 2013. Contest details can be found at What began as a contest for Iowa students in 2009 has grown throughout the U.S. and has planted seeds in Algeria and France.
ELKADER HIGH ESSAY STUDENT TO “IOWA NATIONAL HISTORY DAY” Bob Spielbauer’s paper “Abd el-Kader: Reforming the Muslim Image” was selected at the regional event and advanced to state. Bob states, “…Abd el-Kader is just such a good topic because it’s both local and national, and it’s both close to my heart and relevant worldwide.”
EMIR ABDELKADER TO BOCA GRANDE, FLORIDA John Kiser participated in a 3-day conference titled “Faces of Islam” organized by Jane Geniesse, former NY Times reporter (author of The Passionate Nomad) and local libraries. Kiser joined a panel discussion with Dr. John Voll of Georgetown University and educators Eric and Meera Widmer, advisor to the King of Jordan and former headmaster of Deerfield Academy.LONDON BASED AL JAZEERA ENGLISH Research Associate Nada Issa calls Kiser’s biography, Commander of the Faithful, “Truly brilliant writing that really grips the reader.” Al Jazeera will film an historical series on the impact of French and British colonialism on the Arab world and the role of Emir Abdelkader in shaping resistance to the French occupation in North Africa. DRAKE UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR ORGANIZED ABDELKADER TOUR Professor Tim Knepper, Religion and Philosophy Department, hosted John Kiser’s visit to central Iowa: “Abdelkader, Iowa and Our World Today” held at Des Moines Public Library sponsored by DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred Iowa International Center Dialogue Series. “Muslim Footprints in Iowa: The Story of Emir Abdelkader” at Iowa State University (Ames) sponsored by Niagara Foundation of Iowa, Society of Peace and Dialog, and Committee on Lectures. “Loss and Suffering with Dignity: Abdelkader’s Jihad with France” at Drake University sponsored by The Comparison Project. “Do we need to understand Jihad?” at Simpson College sponsored by Religious Life Community Interfaith program. CAMBRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL (MA) AND BOSTON COLLEGE are including the Abdelkader story for Arabic language students.
GREAT LAKES/IOWA COUNCIL FOR SOCIAL STUDIES CONFERENCE was held in Des Moines. Introduction to AEP entitled “Connecting Continents, Cultures and Centuries” was presented to educators by Kathy Garms.SISTER CITIES INTERNATIONAL IN WASHINGTON DC hosted their Regional Midwest Conference in Cincinnati. Kathy Garms and John Kiser introduced the AEP in a session titled “Creating Global Classrooms.” POST-DOCTORAL ABDELKADER FELLOWSHIP AT UVA is offered to researchers who can demonstrate how their chosen subject relates to the life of Emir Abdelkader as a model of moral leadership, learning, statesmanship, honor on the battlefield, and openness to all faiths. See University of Virginia’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture offers Abdelkader Fellowship. FETZER INSTITUTE IN KALAMAZOO (MI) commissioned John Kiser to write a “white paper” on the relevance of Abdelkader’s life to governance—focusing on empathy and forgiveness. See link on HARVARD PLURALISM PROJECT Ellie Pierce is working with John Kiser and Tamar Miller to craft an Abdelkader case study on ethical leadership.
WAYS TO SUPPORT THE ABDELKADER EDUCATION PROJECT Sponsoring Abdelkader Global Leadership Prize (AGLP) essay contests demonstrates your company or foundation’s commitment to our shared future to globally savvy teachers and social and political leaders around the country and around the world. In addition, youth are our leaders of tomorrow and investing in their education is crucial for a better understanding of our global society. Contact Kathy Garms at regarding questions about the project, to discuss how you can sponsor an Abdelkader Global Leadership Prize award or to discuss how you can support the Abdelkader Education Project in other ways. Become a “Friend of Abdelkader.”
Please visit our website Thank you for following our project! Contact: Kathy Garms, Project Director, at