Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies Newsletter, Spring 2018
Zahra Jamal ('08) hosted UNHCR Deputy High Commissioner Kelly Clements and State Department official Wa’el Alzayat to comment on the global refugee crisis; Harpreet Singh Mokha, Department of Justice National Program Manager for Muslim, Arab, Sikh, and South Asian Communities, and a group of federal agents to explore how to protect places of worship in the wake of the Victoria Mosque arson and the Sutherland Springs Church shooting; and Columbia University’s Lisa Miller to discuss early childhood development and her book The Spiritual Child. Jamal sat on panels with artist Olafur Eliasson of Project Green Light regarding refugee resettlement and resilience, former UK first lady and Chancellor of Asian University for Women Cherie Blair regarding women’s education and power in Asian contexts, and producer James Younger of The Story of Us with Morgan Freeman regarding common values and principles that unite our global village. She deliv-ered the lecture “A Muslim’s Perspective on Food and Faith” at the Chautauqua Institute in New York and addressed the Texas Diversity Council state conference, alongside keynote speakers Jeb Bush, Angela Bassett, Julian Castro, and Donna Brazile. Jamal served on Houston mayor Sylvester Turner’s Diversity Task Force to launch the city’s first com-memorative month signaling the embrace and inclusion of its varied populations as the most diverse metroplex in the country. This academic year, she provided religious literacy education to Houston-area high school and AP teachers, the Richmond and Harris County Police Departments, the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce, Texas Diversity Council, and other entities. She also helped develop a Religious Tolerance Study Guide for use by high school and university students, and Guidelines for Respect for use in primary and secondary school classrooms. She worked with Rice University’s Boniuk Council to serve Houston’s homeless, refugee youth, and survivors of human trafficking. She published in Vorgänge, Islamic Horizons, and The Meaning of My Neighbor’s Faith, an edited volume on migration and religion. Her efforts on interfaith understanding and cooperation were highlighted in the Interfaith Youth Core’s volume on best practices in the nation’s universities. Jamal has been featured in Hidden Heroes, a television series showcasing everyday people living values-based lives and teaching youth to do the same. She appears in the mini-documentary I Want to be Free, submitted to the Middle East Leadership Network film competition. Ambassador Suzan Johnson Cook recog-nized Jamal for her efforts on facilitating understanding between Muslim-majority countries and the United States.