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Extremism in Balance Lecture PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 16 March 2015 15:18

Alwaref Institute is co-sponsoring with Georgetown University a lecture under the title: Extremism in Balance, on Monday, March 16, 6:00-8:30 at The Georgetown University Conference Center.

It is an honor to have the lecturer Sheikh Mouaz Al-Khatib in Washington D.C.Sheikh Khatib, a leading advocate for a pluralistic Syria, is the former imam of Damascus historic Umayyad Mosque and the founding president of the Syrian National Coalition. His full bio is below:

Mouaz AL-KHATIB is founding president of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), a Syrian opposition body recognized by the U.S. and over 100 other countries as the official representative of the Syrian people. Khatib's election as president marked a moment of unmatched unity and legitimacy for the Syrian opposition. With Khatib as president, the SNC earned official recognition across the world and garnered wide popularity among activists and rebel fighters inside Syria. A renowned former imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Khatib is also a fierce critic of religious fundamentalism. As president, he worked actively to blunt extremism in Syria and to protect Syria's Christian minority.

Sheikh Khatib was born in 1960 to a prominent Islamic scholar from a well-known Damascene family. After earning his university degree in Applied Geophysics, he worked for six years as a petrophysicist and chaired the Islamic Society of Urbanization before embarking on a preaching career. Khatib became imam at the historic Umayyad Mosque twenty years ago, only to be banned from preaching by the Assad regime. Subsequently, Khatib established the Islamic Civilization Society and taught at multiple prestigious institutions of Islamic study in Syria. He also became a pro-democracy activist, criticizing regime practices on his website and organizing underground civil society networks.

Sheikh Khatib was a crucial figure in the Syrian Revolution from the very beginning. He joined and helped organize the initial Syrian pro-democracy protest at the Hamidiya Market on March 15, 2011. Three weeks into the protest movement, Sheikh Khatib memorably appeared alongside a Christian and an Alawite onstage at a funeral for peaceful pro-democracy demonstrators near Damascus. Khatib was arrested three times in the ensuing year for his protest activities before fleeing Syria in June 2012. He was elected president of the SNC five months later.

As president of the SNC, Sheikh Khatib made active efforts to preserve the Revolution's pluralistic character. He penned an open letter to Syria's Christians in January 2013, pleading with them to remain in Syria despite the turmoil. He also developed a moderate Islamic legal code designed to blunt the strength of religious fundamentalists in Syria. Sheikh Khatib visited the towns of Manbij and Jarablus, today under ISIS control, when U.S.-endorsed Free Syrian Army rebels were dominant in the area in March 2013. He resigned one month later, citing regional attempts to co-opt opposition decision-making and lack of Western military support to the Free Syrian Army.

Mr. Khatib, who is also the founder and president of the Our Mother Syria Movement, is distinguished within opposition circles for his unique willingness to take bold steps for a political solution. In January 2013, he offered to meet with Bashar al-Assad directly provided that Assad freed tens of thousands of woman and child prisoners. More recently, in late 2014, he visited the Assad regime sponsor Russia to discuss possible parameters of future peace talks in Syria. As a respected Islamic scholar with stellar revolutionary credentials and an unshakable commitment to pluralism, Sheikh Khatib is one of the few Syrians who could reunite all segments of the country.​

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Last Updated ( Monday, 16 March 2015 15:54 )