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UC Merced Lecture Series Explores Issues Related to Middle East

April 29, 2002

FRESNO, CA — Deeper understanding of complex issues and topics related to the Middle East, the religion of Islam and the people of the Arab world is the goal of the first lecture series to be presented by the University of California, Merced's Division of Professional Studies at the UC Center in Fresno.

The four-part series, “Demystifying the Middle East: Understanding the Arab World,” begins on Thursday, May 2 with John Hayes, Ph.D., from the Center of Near Eastern Studies at UC Berkeley. In his program, “Demystifying the Middle East,” Hayes will discuss the history, geography and cultures of the Middle East to provide a historical perspective on current conflicts in the region.

Imam Alaadin Bakri of the Islamic Council of Central California will present the second lecture, “The Beliefs and Practices of Islam,” on Thursday, May 9. Included will be discussions on how Islamic beliefs and practices vary from sect to sect and country to country, and how Islam has impacted Middle Eastern life, culture and politics.

Returning for the third lecture on Thursday, May 16, UC Berkeley's Hayes will explore western civilization's connection to the Middle East and the religion of Islam in “The Cultural Heritage of Islam.” He also will explore the achievements of classical Islamic civilization, such as current developments in architecture, calligraphy and other art forms.

To close out the series, President and C.O.O of VisionOne, Inc. Ghassan AbulGhanam will address the topic of “Arab-Americans: Is the Media Being Fair?” in the fourth lecture on Thursday, May 23. AbulGhanam, also president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, will discuss the media's portrayal of Arabs and Muslims, the effect of racial profiling on Arab-Americans, and the roots, immigration patterns and demographics of Arab-Americans before concluding with a discussion of current affairs and civil rights issues.

UC Merced is planning another Middle East-related lecture series focusing on issues and topics related to Israel and Judaism.

All four lectures in the first series are scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. at the UC Center in Fresno, 550 East Shaw Avenue. Admission is $10 per lecture or $30 for the series of four lectures. Registration is required. For more information and to request a registration form, contact the UC Merced Division of Professional Studies at (559) 241-7400 or email Registration forms also can be obtained at the UC Center in Fresno.