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Recent Symposium Brings Muslims, Scholars on Islam and Democracy to Campus

The Regent Journal of International Law (RJIL) recently hosted the 2007 Fall Symposium on campus themed "Islam, Democracy, and Post-9/11 Nation Building." More than 100 people were in attendance at the event held in the Regent University Library Atrium.

According to RJIL's Symposium Director Zack Hofstad , a third year law student, this year's symposium was a historic event bringing three practicing Muslims to campus to debate with other noted scholars on Islam and democracy. The speakers shared their views on reforming Islam in a thought-provoking panel, which also featured spirited debated with a former Muslim who is now a Christian. "We had an overwhelming response from both our attendees and the speakers," said Hofstad. "One of the main goals of this symposium was to get people talking about these issues and I believe we succeeded in doing so." Hofstad also noted that in the days following the event a number of students have remarked about their interest in continuing to study and debate this issue in the future.

One attendee Farnaz Farkish, a 2007 Regent Law alumnus of Persian descent, remarked that the speakers were "refreshingly honest and unafraid of disagreeing with one another." She also noted that from her observation the speaker's views on the compatibility of democracy with Islam seemed to depend on the types and interpretations of sharia law. "In the end, they reframed the issue after their debate with one another," said Farkish.

This year's speakers included Dr. Vali Nasr, internationally recognized expert on Islam and democracy, Stephen Schwartz, author and executive director of the center for Islamic Pluralism, Mehrangiz Kar, author, attorney, and an Iranian political exile, Dr. Radwan Masmoudi, President of the Center for the Study and Democracy, and Dr. Thomas Najjar, author, lecturer and former Muslim, and General John H. Johns, ret., twenty-six year Army veteran. Finally, two professors from Regent's Robertson School of Government took part including Dr. Joe Kickasola, Professor of International Affairs and Professor Jennifer Jefferis.

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