The Abd el-Kader Education Project

[caption id="attachment_137" width="300" caption="Elkader, IA (photo: Claire Wright)"][/caption]

2011 Abd el-Kader Essay Contest Winners…“In Their Own Words”

Iowa essay winners speak out about what they learned. Quotes from their essays…

1st Place – Cole Crawford, Dubuque

“Though much of the Western world did not respect or understand Muslim culture, there was something different about the Emir. He sits high in the ranks of a rare, dying breed of men – men with the courage to risk everything in order to gain everything. Even though he lost battles – indeed, even lost the war for Algerian independence – Abd el-Kader won a greater and more timeless war. He fought a struggle to capture the world’s hearts and minds, and emerged decisively victorious.”

2nd Place – Madi Johansen, Decorah

“The life of Abd el-Kader can provide a lesson in tolerance, religion, and humanity. The Emir’s actions throughout his life showed the true religion of Islam; following his faith made him a hero. Acceptance, love, faith, and compassion will always be more powerful than hate. Abd el-Kader demonstrated that. In the words of the Qur’an 5:7, “Let not your hatred of other men turn you away from Justice. Be just…that is closer to piety.”

3rd Place – Ben Bernatz, Decorah

“I began to view his application of Islamic law on Algeria as a vehicle for establishing order and justice in his country and was forced to recognize a difference between the emir and extremist Muslim groups today. The only things extreme about the emir was his dedication to his people and his tolerance of others. Most interesting to me was Abd El-Kader’s decision to surrender to and trust the French. After years of warfare, Abd El-Kader realized he couldn’t win, and voluntarily ended the war. He resigned himself to what he saw as God’s will and ended the horrific fighting in his country. Abd El-Kader’s tolerance, understanding, patience, wisdom, and dedication are all attributes that I can emulate in my own life.”

Washington DC Trip

The Algerian Embassy awarded the Elkader Abd el-Kader Essay Contest winners a memorable trip to Washington DC. Joe McGreal and Bob Spielbauer met with Ambassador Abdallah Baali at the Embassy and toured the White House West Wing and Capitol along with other historic landmarks, museums and monuments. Read about their experience on our website “>

Essay Contest Outreach for American Muslim Schools

Abd el-Kader Education Project partner organization, will embark on a regional outreach campaign to American Muslim schools to develop student essay competitions where students will be awarded scholarship awards. The contest will center on Emir Abd el-Kader’s inspiring legacy and will be modeled in-part after the Iowa essay contest.

Time Magazine Muslim-Christian example (06.20.11)

The importance of the Emir’s humanitarian spirit and moral courage is highlighted by the recent Time magazine article of June 20, The Crescent and the Cross by Bruce Feiler.,9171,2076714,00.html

Kiser briefing for U.S. Ambassador to Algeria

John Kiser has been invited to participate in a briefing for the new U.S. ambassador to Algeria, Henry Ensher. John has been asked to give the keynote luncheon address at Meridian House on June 23rd.

National Church & Synagogue Library Association

John Kiser will present the keynote luncheon address at the annual conference of the National Church and Synagogue Library Association in Washington DC on July 21. He will speak about the film “Of Gods and Men” and his related book The Monks of Tibhirine and also Commander of the Faithful about Emir Abd el-Kader.

Spring 2011 Humanities Iowa Magazine

“Voices from the Prairie” interviews John Kiser about the misunderstandings of Islam and with Kathy Garms about the Abd el-Kader Education Project’s origin. (page 6) Religion & Ethics Newsweekly

”John W. Kiser: Christian-Muslim Love” explains important missing elements in the otherwise excellent award-winning French film “Of Gods and Men”.

“Men We Love: Many Ways to Peace” by Mary Liepold, Editor in Chief

During June, features “peace-making men”. Follow Mary’s interview with John Kiser, a “Bridgebuilder, Storyteller for Understanding”…

Commander of the Faithful to be published in Urdu this summer

In Pakistan, the Urdu version of John Kiser’s book Commander of the Faithful: The Life and Times of Emir Abdelkader will be published by Al-Sharia this summer. A forward explaining the relevance of the Emir’s life of true jihad to today’s world is being written by Mr. Zaid-ul Rashadi. He is an influential Deobandi scholar and former Secretary General of the National Islamic Council (Shariat), the government body in Pakistan that determines that laws passed by the legislature do not violate Islamic law.

Teacher Workshops Offered in Iowa during June & July

Funded in-part by Humanities Iowa, free Middle East Policy Council (MEPC) teacher workshops are being held across Iowa this summer. The MEPC Teach Mideast Program in Washington DC is part of The Abd el-Kader Education Project in Elkader. The workshops entitled “Tools for Teaching about the Middle East and Islam” are for teachers but others are welcome to attend.

Presenter Barbara Petzen, Education Director for MEPC Teach Mideast, has presented workshops across the country. The MEPC is a non-profit, non-partisan organization that has been working to educate policymakers and the public about American interests in the Middle East since 1981.

For Teachers…Do you teach about the Middle East and Islam, and want better resources to explore these complex subjects with your students? Do you sometimes feel there’s more to the story you should know, but aren’t sure where to find dependable information? Would you like to feel more confident answering your students’ questions about the region and its people?

For Non-Teachers….Information presented about the stereotypes and complex realities of the region; current events and their deeper context in demography, economics, new media and youth culture; the interplay between religion and politics; the roles and aspirations of women in the Middle East and Muslim societies and more, will be valuable to citizens from many fields including media, clergy, librarians, parents, students (high school & college) and anyone desiring to learn more about global civic and cultural awareness.

Workshops are scheduled at the following Iowa venues throughout June and July. If you are interested in attending any of these workshops, please contact Neil Brandvold at

  • June 22-23rd Iowa Western Community College, Council Bluffs
  • June 29-30th FreedomBank Community Room, Elkader
  • July 13-14th Western Iowa Tech Community College, Sioux City
  • July 20-21st Fort Dodge/Prairie Lakes AEA
  • July 27-28th Grant Wood AEA, Coralville
  • TBD Mississippi Bend AEA, Bettendorf
  • Thank you for following our project. We welcome all comments and suggestions.
  • The Abd el-Kader Education Project Team…
  • Kathy Garms, Barbara Petzen, Sarah Sayeed, John Boyer, John Kiser