The recent development in Aleppo sparked polarized responses from various commentators. Videos and tweets recording ‘last messages’ from Syrian activists flooded the media, warning that the ‘fall’ of Aleppo to Assad-led Syrian forces meant an imminent massacre to the Sunni-majority civilians. On the opposite spectrum, those ‘last messages’ were dismissed as concerted lies concocted by pro-jihadist extremists to elicit sympathy and spread misinformation. To them, this is the ‘liberation’ that Syrians have long awaited, freeing Aleppo from the terror of radical fighters and their reductionist vision of Islamic state. Beyond the media frenzy, how can we better understand the wider Syrian conflict? Who are the local and international stakeholders? What are their key driving factors? Are there leverage points of de-escalation and roadmaps towards peace?
1. Dr Chandra Muzaffar, President, International Movement for a Just World (JUST)
Chandra Muzaffar is a Malaysian Muslim political scientist, and an Islamic reformist and activist. He has written on civilization dialogue, human rights, Malaysian politics and international relations. Muzaffar was the first Director of the Centre for Civilisational Dialogue at the University of Malaya. He then became the Noordin Sopiee Professor of Global Studies at the University of Science (USM) in Penang. In 1977 he founded a multi-ethnic social reform group, Aliran Kesedaran Negara, which he led for 14 years. He later became president of the International Movement for a Just World, which seeks to raise public consciousness on the moral and intellectual basis of global justice.
2. Prof. Dr. Abdullah Al-Ahsan, International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM)
Abdullah al-Ahsan is a renowned Muslim academic and professor of Comparative History in the Department of History and Civilization, International Islamic University Malaysia. He is known for his academic work documenting the Organization of Islamic Conference and addressing crises in the post-colonial Muslim world through study of the relationship between the contemporary Western and Islamic civilizations. Abdullah al-Ahsan completed his Bachelors and Masters in Pakistan from University of Punjab in General Studies and Quaid-i-Azam University in History respectively. He then proceeded to study in McGill University, Montreal, Canada, doing a Masters in Islamic Studies and finally gained his Ph.D in History from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, in the USA.
3. Mr Ahmad El-Muhammady, International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM)
Mr Ahmad El-Muhammady received his B.A. (2004) and M.A. (2010) in Political Science from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). Currently, he is a lecturer in political science and Islamic studies at the Department of Human Sciences, IIUM while working on a doctorate at the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization, Kuala Lumpur. His research is on extremist ideology and terrorism in Malaysia. In 2011, Mr Ahmad was appointed a panelist in the Royal Malaysia Police’s Special Rehabilitation Programme for militant detainees. He has been a regular public speaker on the issue of militancy and terrorism in Malaysia, to government agencies, civil society groups and the law enforcement and intelligence community.
4. Assoc. Prof. Dr Hafidzi Mohd Noor, Chairman, Humanitarian Care Malaysia (MyCARE)
Dr Hafidzi is a lecturer at the Faculty of Agriculture in Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). He is an avid reader of history who has written many books and articles, appeared in various media interviews (television, radios and newspapers) and delivered numerous lectures on the subject of Palestine and the ummah in general. He has been to Gaza twice – first during the Board of Trustee to Gaza (BOT2Gaza) mission (22nd-29th Jan 2012) and second during Aqsa2Gaza10 mission (29 Nov-3 Dec 2012) almost immediately after the 2012 war ended. He is also recipient of the National Maulidur Rasul Award 1436H/2014 in honor of his excellent services in humanitarian cause.
02:30pm: Arrival & Registration
03:00pm: Opening Remarks by the Moderator, Assoc. Prof. Dr. Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil, Deputy CEO, IAIS Malaysia
03:05pm: Welcoming Remarks by Prof. Dr Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Founding CEO, IAIS Malaysia
03:10pm: Presentation by Dr Chandra Muzaffar, President
03:30pm: Presentation by Prof. Dr. Abdullah Al-Ahsan
03:50pm: Presentation by Mr Ahmad El-Muhammady
04:10pm: Presentation by Assoc. Prof. Dr Hafidzi Mohd Noor
04:30pm: Interactive Session
04:55pm: Concluding Remarks by the Moderator
05:00pm: Adjournment and Refreshment
Download PowerPoint Presentations (in PDF format)
Beyond the media frenzy covering the Syrian conflict—recently highlighted by the Aleppo situation—how can we better understand its dynamics and make better informed comments or decisions? What are the latest developments? Who are the local and international stakeholders? What are their key driving factors? Are there leverage points of de-escalation and roadmaps towards peace?
With the above questions in mind, IAIS Malaysia and JUST co-organized an intellectual forum under the banner “Understanding the Aleppo Crisis”. The forum which began at 3pm and ended at 530pm witnessed an almost full-seat attendance in the IAIS boardroom, with around 60 participants from various backgrounds including academicians, scholars, students, activists as well as Syrian students studying in Malaysia.
Prof Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali, CEO of IAIS, delivered the opening remarks, followed by a brief introduction by forum moderator, Assoc. Prof. Mohamed Azam Mohamed Adil, Deputy CEO of IAIS. Featured speakers were notable Malaysian scholar Dr Chandra Muzaffar from JUST, terrorism expert Ahmad El-Muhammady from IIUM, and political science professor Dr. Abdullah al-Ahsan from IIUM (also featured a brief presentation by his Syrian student). One of the invited speakers, Assoc. Prof. Hafidzi Mohd Noor which represents the humanitarian aspect, unfortunately did not make it to the event due to a traffic accident. Overall, the diverse backgrounds of the speakers contributed towards an interactive and multi-spectrum discussion on the Syrian conflict: from the macro-level perspectives of geopolitics and super power hegemonic theory, to the micro-level perspectives of terrorism and radicalism, and local Syrian politics.
Owing to the complexity and sensitive nature of the Syrian conflict, the moderator concluded the forum by imploring the attendants to make their own intellectual judgement on the matter based on the deliberations and facts presented in the discussion. The forum ended in a positive manner, despite polarizing views and dynamic exchange of ideas.
[Wan Naim Wan Mansor]