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Director Joe Kelley in Lyon, France

December 19, 2013
“Les Journees de l’Emir et des Quartiers Populaires” celebrated the life of humanitarian Emir Abd el-Kader, forgotten Muslim leader of the 19th century.

Center director Joe Kelley accompanied board member John Kiser to Lyon, France, where they participated in a festival celebrating the life of Emir Abd el-Kader from December 12-14, 2013.

Joe writes, “So… who is this person and why am I in Lyon? He is the Algerian Emir Abd el-Kader who lived in the 19th century. He led the Algerian resistance against French colonization. In the late 1850’s his resistance, remarkably successful for many years (and cheered on by other European countries and the United States—due to anti-French sentiment), ultimately failed. Rather than sacrifice more Algerian lives, he surrendered to the French.

He was taken prisoner and deported to France, to prevent him from being a rallying point for Algerian independence. He handled his imprisonment with dignity and soon became an international statesman. Everyone from the Pope Pius IX to President Lincoln sang his praises as a humanitarian and a force for good. From France he was allowed to relocate in Damascus, Syria. There he personally intervened and, at some risk to himself and his family, sheltered a thousand Christians from mob violence incited against them in the streets of Damascus by the Ottomans.”

If you are intrigued and wish to read more about the festival, click here.  Joe gave a talk about the importance of interfaith dialogue and crossing borders which you can read here, or if you wish to read it in French, click here.

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