Middle East studies in the News
Experts Talk ISIS, Refugees at Boise State Conference [incl. Nader Hashemi]
by Shannon Camp
Boise State kicked of its 32nd annual Frank Church Conference on Public Affairs Friday morning. The conference this year is titled "Clash of Culture: The Middle East in Turmoil."
It was held in the Simplot Ballroom at Boise State where students and members of the public heard two panel discussions. The second one centered around the current state of the terrorist group ISIS.
"My feeling is that Paris was an act to glorify the notion of ISIS spreading its word and its militants around the globe," said panelist Stephen Schlesinger of the Century Foundation. "But, in fact, it was done because ISIS was starting to lose in the Middle East."
For a little over an hour, experts in the field discussed the roots of the organization.
"There is a set of social, political, intellectual and theological conditions in this part of the world that keep producing these types of insurgencies that are rooted in fundamentally, anger, frustration and humiliation," said speaker Dr. Nader Hashemi of the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver.
The panelists debated the strength of the group.
"Unfortunately, because of the political situation in this country, with the presidential election going on, ISIS has been inflated to great degrees," said Schlesinger.
"But in the age of globalization, in the age of terrorism a handful of people can evoke and induce a lot of fear," said Hashemi.
And they weighed in on how government leaders should go about fighting ISIS.
"The president has it right, the Republican candidates are trying to do what other politicians have always done from the beginning of humanity – exploit people's fears to get elected," Hashemi said.
One issue at the foreground today was refugee resettlement here in Idaho
"I think that's so unfair to characterize refugees as being sent by ISIS," said Schlesinger, "They're fleeing ISIS, they want to get out of that place because in both Syria and Iraq they're being bombed."
"If they can't come here and they can't go to Europe, well soon Syrian refugees are going to go where, to ISIS," said Hashemi.
Conference leaders say this event is meant to spark public dialogue.
"We hope the discussion will generate some more discussion about what's happening in the Middle East and what the U.S. role should be," said Garry Wenske, executive director for The Frank Church Institute. "And perhaps some of these issues will even be brought up in the election."
The conference will continue on Monday evening when organizers are set to present former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta with the Frank and Bethine Church Award for Public Service.Note: Articles listed under "Middle East studies in the News" provide information on current developments concerning Middle East studies on North American campuses. These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of Campus Watch and do not necessarily correspond to Campus Watch's critique.
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