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It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Professor Barbara Freyer Stowasser on Sunday, May 13, 2012, at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, D.C. She was surrounded by friends and family. Dr. Stowasser was Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies in the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies from 1994 to 2012 (though her service to Georgetown University extends back to 1966 when she began lecturing in the Arabic Department), holder of the Sultanate of Oman Chair in Arabic and Islamic Literature at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, a core member of the faculty of CCAS, and thrice director of the Center. Dr. Stowasser was a leading world scholar in studies of women in the Qur'an and hadith, and a colleague of rare intellect, compassion, and humor. Her expertise and influence shall be sorely missed.

The family has expressed its wish to hold a memorial service at Georgetown University in the late summer or early fall, and details shall be forthcoming. The faculty, staff, and students of CCAS express our deepest sympathies with her family, grieving her loss at this time.

Those who wish to share memories of Dr. Stowasser are invited to do so below.

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Voice of America recently covered a workshop at SFS sponsored by CCAS, PJC and the Turkish Studies programs. The seminar focused on music in the Middle East and how music can promote understanding between people of differing views. The event featured the music of Lamajamal. Check out the full story, complete with video and audio clips of the performances, at Voice of America.

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Visiting associate professor Thomas Farr wrote for the National Review's online community The Corner that the U.S. needs to do more to do more to emphasize religious freedom in foreign policy.

Religious freedom should be at the heart of U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East. Both history and modern scholarship make it clear that highly religious societies cannot attain stable, lasting democracy without religious freedom in full — the set of institutions and habits that guarantee equality under the law for all religious actors and a sustainable balance between religion and state.

Farr was reacting to President Obama's address on the Arab Spring.

Read more.

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Georgetown professor and former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright urged more than 100 recipients of the Master of Science in Foreign Service (MSFS) degree to make learning a lifelong endeavor, keynoting the program's awards ceremony as 2011 commencement activities continued on the Hilltop Friday night.

The key to wisdom is being open to new ideas; "those who believe they are in full possession of the truth can be dangerous," Albright said during an MSFS Tropaia event that proved a raucous celebration of achievements for students and hundreds of their family and friends in Gaston Hall.

Albright said that whether the issue is nuclear proliferation, food security or personal freedom, issues can look very different from one side of the world to the other.  "The challenge is to make them so we're not defined solely by our differences," she said.

Alumni honoree Ben Powell (G '00), founder of a nonprofit that invests in entrepreneurs in the developing world, told graduates to stay in touch with one another.  "There is enormous social capital in this room," said Powell, "and it can grow or diminish based on your actions.  Nurture it."

Student speaker Mahveen Azam said that in MSFS, she found what she had sought when she came to Georgetown from Pakistan to study international affairs.  "What truly makes this a great program is... great people who are seriously invested in each other's success," she said.

Honorees included 15 graduates who completed the MSFS oral examination with distinction.

Marco Schad, a parish priest in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., and a 2003 MSFS and Law Center graduate delivered the benediction.

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Student speaker Matthew Shapiro's remarks were a highlight of the BSFS Tropaia awards ceremony Friday afternoon:

As a 2011graduate of the School of Foreign Service (SFS), Matthew Shapiro says he is most grateful for the sense of community he was able to establish while a student at Georgetown.

“The most valuable lessons of the past four years have not come from the classroom, but from everyone in this room and the larger Georgetown community,” Shapiro said at this year’s SFS Tropaia ceremony. “We were here to support each other and to challenge one another to do things we might have thought were impossible before meeting each other.”

Click to read more.

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The School of Foreign Service in Qatar (SFS-Q) has marked the graduation of its third undergraduate class! In an official commencement ceremony, John J. DeGioia, Georgetown University president, delivered the keynote address to the 46 students, who received their Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service degrees in International Politics and in Culture and Politics.

The ceremony, held in the Grand Hyatt hotel in Doha was attended by more than 500 guests including family, friends and members of the Doha community, as well as high-profile international and regional figures.

Click here to read more from the team at SFS-Q.

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As the world digests the news that U.S. forces killed Osama bin Laden in a raid on his compound in Pakistan, faculty across the School of Foreign Service have been tapped by American and international media to lend insight.

We'll update this list throughout the week of May 2.

  • Paul Pillar -- director of graduate studies at the Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University and a former CIA National Intelligence officer appeared on Monday's Diane Rehm Show, broadcast from WAMU-FM in Washington and heard on NPR stations nationwide.

U.S. and allied counterterrorism efforts must continue, and in the short term perhaps even increase. The risk of revenge attacks should lead to a focus on bolstering defenses. Even more important, aggressive strikes on al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and the global intelligence and policy campaign must not end. Al Qaeda will be in disarray, and arresting or killing remaining leaders, hindering their communications, and foiling their plots can put them on the run.

Bin Laden's death will not immobilize the core. Indeed, it may seek to launch any off-the-shelf or in-process attacks as soon as possible to prove its relevance. However, this is an organization built along personal lines, with a new leader needing to win the loyalty and support of his followers. With Bin Laden's death, his successor—most likely his No. 2, Egyptian Ayman al-Zawahiri—will need to consolidate his power. This is hard to do when he is on the run and cannot communicate freely.

We do not know whether the Taliban are actually popular among Afghans, and we won't know until U.S. forces are out of the equation in Afghanistan. Which leaves Pakistan as the main interest of U.S. policy -- Washington does in fact have strategic interest in Pakistan not going south.  So there is a strong argument for facilitating negotiations for the inevitable power-sharing arrangement, and starting the drawdown of U.S. forces.

  • Bruce Hoffman -- director of the Center for Peace and Security Studies and the Security Studies Program, as well as a professor -- wrote on The National Interest that Bin Laden's death shattered conventional wisdom about al-Qaeda's leader:

His presence in an urban hub, presumably with a variety of modes of contact, calls into question the supposedly hands-off, irrelevant role he had been believed to play in al-Qaeda’s strategy and perhaps even day-to-day operations. Indeed, it may have been his active participation in key al-Qaeda decision-making and operational matters that allowed us to track him to his hideout—there must have been an unusual number people coming and going, functioning essentially as couriers. It may thus be that he’s had much more of a role in al-Qaeda than we believed.

  • John Esposito -- director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and professor of religion, international Affairs and Islamic studies -- told Reuters that he hopes that this will take some pressure off of Muslims who are victim to Islamophobia in the US.
  • Esposito also wrote Monday for The Washington Post with colleague John Voll -- associate director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding and professor of Islamic history -- questioning if the death of Bin Laden should be considered an ending or a turning point.

It is clear that the death of bin Laden does not mean an end to the global terrorist threat. Both President Obama and surviving leaders of al-Qaeda affirm that the attacks by terrorists against the whole world, including the United States, will continue. The death of the major leader of al-Qaeda does not mean an end to the organization but it does mean that trends toward a more decentralized network of militants will be strengthened.

  • Esposito commented to the Los Angeles Times that there is no simple answer to how Bin Laden's death will affect Muslims in America.

I think intelligent Muslims will be aware that this is a turning point but only the beginning of a turning point.

  • Hoffman commented to USA Today that though this doesn't mean the end of the movement, that a counterattack could go off half-cocked and allow US officials to learn more about surviving terror networks.
  • Hoffman spoke about Al-Qaida's next leader, the possibility that it might be Ayman al-Zawahiri and how he could be even stronger than Bin Laden to NPR.

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SFS' Associate Dean of Programs and Studies Jennifer Windsor weighed in on the future of Syria during Thursday's Air Talk with Larry Mantle on Southern California's KPCC public radio.

Listen to the segment here!

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Americans and Israelis have often thought that their nations were chosen, in perpetuity, to do God's work. This belief in divine election is a potent, living force, one that has guided and shaped both peoples and nations throughout their history and continues to do so to this day. Through great adversity and despite serious challenges, Americans and Jews, leaders and followers, have repeatedly faced the world fortified by a sense that their nation has a providential destiny.

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Natasha Mozgovaya discusses the visibility and impact of newcomers  (Russians, Ethiopians, illegal immigrants and other minorities) in Israel's political arena, a topic she has been covering extensively in the media over the past months. An immigrant from the FSU herself, Natasha Mozgovaya explores how those groups have influenced Israel's decision-making process domestically and in the peace negotiations.

Mozgovaya immigrated to Israel from Russia at age 11, as part of the 'Big Aliyah' of the 1990s. She began writing for newspapers in Russian as a teenager, and by the age of 18 had become editor of two supplements for 'Vesty,' the Russian newspaper in Israel.   In 2000, Mozgovaya joined the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, covering immigration to Israel and Diaspora Jewry. She went on to report from Gaza during the disengagement in 2005, and from the Lebanese border during the war with Hezbollah in 2006.   Mozgovaya has reported from around the world, contributing in-depth articles on topics ranging from human trafficking in Eastern Europe to the AIDS epidemic in Africa; clashes with the PKK in Turkey to the post-election riots in Kenya.   She has closely followed events in the FSU over the last decade, interviewing the members of the political elite and opposition leaders, as well as iconic figures such as Mikhail Kalashnikov and the infamous 'Russian oligarchs.'   In addition to her newspaper work, Mozgovaya has anchored several television programs in Hebrew and Russian. In 2008, she co-hosted a Channel 9 series exploring the history of the State of Israel since its establishment in 1948.

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