Center for Arab and Islamic Studies celebrates 25 years

Kelsey Ruane

The Center for Arab and Islamic Studies began the celebration of its 25th anniversary yesterday with a four-day conference entitled Mirror Images: Challenges for Arab and Islamic Studies.

Actress and film director Nadine Labaki attended the screening of her 2007 Lebanese film “Caramel” yesterday in Connelly Center to commence the conference.

The schedule includes over 30 panels focusing on areas such as art, culture, literature and politics that will take place today, tomorrow and Saturday.

Over 100 participants from Villanova and other institutions including Harvard, Georgetown and Princeton are involved in the conference.

Today’s highlights include a reading and book signing reception with the authors Susan Abulhawa, Eric Sellin and Habib Tengour at 4 p.m. and a stage performance of “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” the true story of an activist killed in Gaza during the Second Intifada in 2003.

Juan R. I. Cole from the University of Michigan will give the keynote address tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. followed by a banquet dinner tribute to Hafeez Malik, political science professor and founding member of the Villanova Center for Arab and Islamic Studies.

Luncheons with distinguished guests Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American sociologist and author, and James Zogby, founder and president of the Arab American Institute, are scheduled for today and Friday at 12:15 p.m. Based in Washington D.C., AAI serves as the political and policy research arm of the Arab-American community.

The list of panels that the conference offers includes a workshop on Arab calligraphy today, a roundtable discussion on promoting democracy in the Middle East on Friday and a discussion of contemporary Arab literature on Saturday.

A discussion with Labaki and leading music video producer Mayada al Hiraki will take place on Saturday at 4 p.m.

The Center for Arab and Islamic Studies offers a minor and concentration. Silvia Nagy-Zekmi is the director.

“The center’s interdisciplinary program serves undergraduates who wish to emphasize Arab and Islamic studies in conjunction with a regular major,” according to its Web site.