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The University of Kentucky Interfaith Dialogue Organization (IDO) and Rumi Forum (Washington, D.C.), with the support of Student Government, Office of Student Affairs, Office of International Affairs, College of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School, sponsored a Jewish–Muslim Dialogue Event: “Problems and Possibilities”, on Tuesday, November 18, 2008 in the William T. Young Library Auditorium.

The panel discussion was led by Mehri Niknam, Executive Director of the Joseph Interfaith Foundation of Britain, and Ibrahim Kalin of the School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.

“As members of the Interfaith Dialogue Organization, we believe that dialogue and respect for everyone in their position are the strongest shelters against any conflicts that arise from dissension, differences or difficulties in agreement,” said Mehmet Saracoglu, President of IDO.

Mehri Niknam was born and raised in Iran. Her academic field is comparative medieval Jewish-Muslim history, and she has been a Jewish-Muslim consultant for over 15 years. She is a member of Imams and Rabbis Committee and Academics & Theologians Roundtable at the Department of Communities and Local Government and a regular contributor to the BBC World Service. In 2005, she was awarded The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II for her contributions to Muslim-Jewish relations in Britain. In the same year she was made an Honorary Fellow at Leo Baeck Centre for Jewish Education for her services to the college’s Jewish-Muslim interfaith relations.

A broadly trained scholar of Islamic studies, Ibrahim Kalin teaches a number of courses on Islamic history and culture at Georgetown University, concentrating in post-Avicennan Islamic philosophy with research interests in Ottoman intellectual history, interfaith relations and comparative philosophy. He has contributed to several encyclopedias and his book, “Islam and the West,” won the 2007 Writers Association of Turkey award for best book. He has also co-authored a major study on the Turkish perceptions of the West. Kalin is the founding-director of the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research based in Ankara, Turkey. Kalin is among the signatories of the Common Word, a major worldwide initiative to improve Muslim-Christian relations.

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