Religious Extremism Conference To Be Held At USD

San Diego, CA: As headlines continue to attest, the rise of violent religious extremism and its impact on women and communities worldwide is an urgent and deepening crisis.

From November 19-21, the University of San Diego’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice (IPJ) will be hosting “Defying Extremism: Gendered Responses to Religious Violence,” an international working conference examining the rise of this disturbing trend and gendered strategies to confront it.

Speakers and participants come from across the globe and the spectrum of religious faiths. Testimonials will be given from former extremists turned peacemakers, survivors of hate-group and religious violence, moderate religious leaders, and even a mother of an imprisoned extremist in the U.K. who works with other groups to identify radicalization before it turns violent.

Featured speakers include Karima Bennoune, the Algerian author of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism, which recently received the 2014 Dayton Literary Peace Prize; and San Diego attorney James McElroy, a board member of the Southern Poverty Law Center, the noted civil rights organization that uses litigation and education to fight hate and bigotry in the U.S.

Panelists also include a Muslim woman from Nigeria advocating for the release of the women and girls kidnapped by Boko Haram; the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women; and a survivor of kidnapping by the Abu Sayyaf in the Philippines.

This is the IPJ’s 10th international conference held in conjunction with its award-winning Women PeaceMakers Program, which this year is hosting peacemakers from India/Kashmir, Israel, Sri Lanka and Uganda.

All events will take place at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice on the campus of the University of San Diego.

Participation in the conference is by invitation and application only and requires registration, but the following sessions are open to the public:

Wednesday, November 19, 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
(speakers listed alphabetically)

· Rubina Feroze Bhatti: A Christian in the majority-Muslim country of Pakistan who works against laws and practices that discriminate against women and minorities

· Loreto Cabaya: A former member of a Christian extremist group that fought Muslims in the Philippines, who is now an advocate for the peace process

· Ameena Saeed Hasan: A Yazidi woman from Iraq who will speak on the current violence and threat from ISIS

· Vicky Ibrahim: Mother of a man imprisoned for his role in plotting the Bristol bombing in the U.K. in 2008-9

· Margaret Arach Orech: Survivor of a landmine explosion caused by the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda

· Shreen Abdul Saroor: Advocate against Buddhist extremism affecting Muslim communities in Sri Lanka

Thursday, November 20, 7 – 9 p.m.
Distinguished Lecture Series with Karima Bennoune, author of Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism

· Followed by a book signing with the author

Friday, November 21:
10 a.m. – 12 p.m. – Testimonials and Closing Keynote Address

· Arno Michaelis: Former racist skinhead; author of Life After Hate

· Maxensia Nakibuuka: A lay leader in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in Uganda, who oversees the church’s AIDS response and works with the LGBT community to counter religious intolerance

· Mubin Shaikh: Former Islamic extremist; co-author of Undercover Jihadi

· James McElroy: Member of Board of Directors of Southern Poverty Law Center, and San Diego civil rights attorney

Media passes are available, and select speakers will be available for media interviews. The list of speakers is available at the conference website,

To schedule interviews or for more information, please call (619) 260-4659.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 8,000 students from 75 countries and 44 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. USD’s eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD recently concluded our successful $317M Leading Change: The Campaign for USD, which represented the most ambitious fundraising effort in the history of the university. In September 2016, USD introduced Envisioning 2024, a strategic plan that capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.