Inaugural MEF Meeting Hosts Author Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan and NYUAD students discuss Islam, democracy, and contemporary Middle Eastern politics.

He has made appearances on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Meet the Press, but this past Thursday, Reza Aslan (pictured center), acclaimed writer and contributing editor for The Daily Beast, sat with a group of 20 NYUAD students to discuss Islam, democracy, and contemporary Middle Eastern politics. The lucky students were part of the inaugural meeting of the Middle East Forum, a new organization sponsored by the NYUAD Institute that convenes biweekly as an environment for students to discuss Middle East politics and current events, analyze issues related to the region, and receive special access to notable academics in the field.

The students prepared for the hour-long discussion by reading a short excerpt from Aslan's renowned book, No god But God, which examines the history of Islam and the roots of contemporary controversies both within the religion and in terms of how it is perceived throughout the world. However, the list of topics discussed throughout the colloquium ranged from terrorism and armed conflicts to political leadership and Turkey's AK party.

Charlotte Wang, NYUAD Class of 2014 (pictured right), called the experience "incredible" and praised Aslan for his "formidable" understanding of the Middle East. "What makes him such a force is his ability to convey what he understands to everyone, despite the scope and complexity of his topic," she continued, thankful for the opportunity to speak with such a luminary in an intimate setting.

This small meeting with members of the Middle East Forum followed Aslan's NYUAD Institute presentation the night before at Al Mamoura Auditorium, during which he talked about Iran and United States foreign policy.