From 31 March – 4 April, the Institute for Global Engagement is leading a multi-faith American delegation to Syria with the purpose of gaining a better understanding of both Muslim-Christian and U.S.-Syria relations. The delegation will visit the historic cities of Damascus and Aleppo, and will participate in a two-day conference entitled “Religion & Respect: What We Can Learn from the Other’s Faith” in Hama at the al-Andaluz Institute. Our Syrian co-sponsor and host is Dr. Rufaida Habash, the founder of the al-Andaluz Institute—an all-female madrassah of 2000 women. Specifically, the delegation will discuss issues such as:

    How each country and faith can contribute toward peace and security in the Middle East;

    Engaging the difficult issues regarding religion (e.g., Why does it seem “Christian” America doesn’t respect the Muslim world? Why is there less religious freedom for non-Muslims in Arab countries?); and,

    Highlighting people-to-people diplomacy between Americans and Syrians at a geo-political time where there is much danger (e.g., Gaza), and also much opportunity (e.g., a potential Syria-Israel peace deal that might open the way for an Israel-Palestine accord.)

This trip represents the deepening of relationships as the Institute for Global Engagement seeks to understand how it might contribute to building a just peace in the Middle East.