The speakers at the event were Dr. Qanta Ahmed—a British-educated medical doctor, author of “In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor’s Journey in the Saudi Kingdom,” and frequent commentator against radical Islam—and Michael Widlanski, Bar-Ilan University Arab affairs expert and author of “Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat.”
The symposium, chaired by World Center Director Alan Schneider and Ecumenical Fraternity Director Rev. Dr. Petra Heldt, was held at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem with an overflow crowd.
On her first visit to Israel, Ahmed—an Ahmadiyya Muslim whose parents moved to Britain via Pakistan after fleeing India when the subcontinent divided into Muslim and Hindu-majority states in 1947—decried the persecution of Christians and other minorities, chagrined that this phenomenon is not getting the attention it deserves in the media. Ahmed, currently an attending physician in New York, insisted that Israel does not fit the description of an apartheid state; the media ignores the real problem, which is in the Muslim world. “Israel is the only place in the region where I can give this talk and go home afterwards,” Ahmed said.
Widlanski asserted that modern Muslim society is more intolerant than in antiquity. He said that because Muslims see the failure of the Islamic world when compared to the power and technology of the West, their search for scapegoats often affects relations with minorities.
Ahmed also discussed her experience working in Saudi Arabia. Her book documented the rampant anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism in the country and the lack of women’s rights.
News coverage of the event was carried in the Jerusalem Post.