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Rebirth of the Shi'a-Sunni Divide
Geneive Abdo, Senior Fellow, Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, Atlantic Council

Tuesday, February 21, 2017 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM

After beginning the Council's Islam: Changing Dynamics Series with an examination of the Quran, the focus moves to "Rebirth of the Shia-Sunni Divide." Our Series speaker on Tuesday, February 21, is Geneive Abdo, a former journalist who is now involved in the study of foreign relations that affect American and Arab interests.

Her analysis for the Brookings Institution in 2013 became her book The New Sectarianism: The Arab Uprisings and the Rebirth of the Shi'a-Sunni Divide.

A summary of that analysis for Brookings begins with this warning: "While analysts, scholars and decision-makers are quick to observe that the Shi‘a-Sunni conflict is a battle within Islam, the broader geo-political implications from the rise in sectarianism should be of great concern to the United States as it seeks to preserve its interests in the Middle East."

The inner conflict, according to Abdo's analysis, has "greatly complicated the diplomatic and geopolitical challenges facing the United States by demanding that serious consideration be given to religious difference in its own right, and not simply as an epiphenomenon stemming from social, economic or political contestation. Religion, gender and ethnicity play a far more prominent role in determining social and political interaction than in the past."

Abdo, who specializes in monitoring political Islam, is a non-resident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council's Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East, a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution and a lecturer at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University.

She formerly served as liaison officer for the Alliance of Civilizations, a United Nations initiative established by Secretary-General Kofi Annan with the goal of "improving relationships between Islamic and Western societies."

Before her U.N. assignment, Abdo spent 20 years as a journalist covering the Middle East and the Muslim world. She was Iran correspondent for the British paper The Guardian (1998-2001), contributing regularly to The Economist and the International Herald Tribune. Her biography describes as "the first American journalist to be based in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution."

Among her books is the 2000 non-fiction work No God But God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam, examining "transformation of Egypt into an Islamic society." Her 2006 book about life in the United States is titled Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America after 9/11.

Part of the:

Islam Series


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6:30 PM Reception
7:00 PM Program & Book Signing
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Crescent Club
200 Crescent Dr.
Dallas, TX 75201
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$25 Members
$40 Non-Members
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