ADL Launches Task Force to Protect Minority Communities of Middle East

New York, NY, November 8, 2018 … ADL today announced the launch of a new task force focused on promoting the protection of minority communities in the Middle East.

The ADL Task Force on Middle East Minorities will educate, advocate and elevate the issues challenging these important and all-too-often overlooked communities across the region, including religious, ethnic, sexual and gender minorities, and other groups who face governmental and societal repression and discrimination. 

“Governments across the Middle East, use mechanism of control and suppression to single out their minority communities, depriving them of basic freedoms and rights,” said ADL Senior Vice President for International Affairs, Sharon Nazarian, who serves as the task force chair and who as a child fled Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  “It is a sad reality that these ongoing, daily violations are often not heard of nor known about among the general public in the US, Europe or around the globe.  This task force, comprised of leading scholars, activists and experts, will elevate awareness and promote sound policies and approaches to make life better for these minorities.” 

“Democracy and rule of law are not about the rule of the majority in a country. Governments should respect the rights of minorities in order to be a legitimate member of the world community,” said Maziar Bahari, journalist, activist and member of the task force. “Unfortunately, in many countries around the world, in the Middle East and beyond, minorities are under attack by various groups with different ideological affiliations. It is the responsibility of governments to recognize the right of these minorities as citizens of their countries and protect them from hate speech and hate crimes, which are, unfortunately, on the rise in many parts of the world.”

Members of the Task Force are:

Sharon Nazarian, Chair

Dr. Sharon S. Nazarian is Senior Vice President of International Affairs at ADL. Sharon heads ADL’s work fighting anti-Semitism and hatred globally.  Prior to ADL, Sharon was active in three worlds: academia, philanthropy and foreign policy. She is the President of the Y&S Nazarian Family Foundation, with a regional office in Israel named the Ima Foundation and the founder of the Y&S Nazarian Center for Israel Studies at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and Chair of its Advisory Board.  She studied at the University of Southern California (USC), double majoring in Journalism and International Relations, and went on to receive her Master’s and Ph.D. in Political Science from USC.

Maziar Bahari, Filmmaker & Editor of IranWire

Maziar Bahari is an Iranian Canadian journalist and filmmaker. He was a reporter for Newsweek from 1998 to 2011.  Bahari graduated with a degree in communications from Concordia University in Montreal in 1993. Soon after, he made his first film The Voyage of the Saint Louis (1994). He has produced a number of documentaries and news reports for broadcasters around the world including, BBC, Channel4, HBO, Discovery, Canal+ and NHK.  A retrospective of Bahari’s films was organized by the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in November 2007. During the 2009 Iranian Election Protests he was arrested without charge, and detained for 118 days. In September 2009, Bahari was nominated for the Prince of Asturias Award for Concord. Bahari’s family memoir, Then They Came for Me (re-released as Rosewater), was published by Random House in June 2011.

Dr. Aykan Erdemir, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies | Religious Freedom and Minority Rights Scholar and Advocate

Dr. Aykan Erdemir is a former member of the Turkish Parliament (2011-2015) who served in the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, EU Harmonization Committee, and the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee on the IT Sector and the Internet. As an outspoken defender of pluralism, minority rights, and religious freedoms in the Middle East, Dr. Erdemir has been at the forefront of the struggle against religious persecution, hate crimes, and hate speech in Turkey. He is a founding member of the International Panel of Parliamentarians for Freedom of Religion or Belief, and a drafter of and signatory to the Oslo Charter for Freedom of Religion or Belief (2014) as well as a signatory legislator to the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism.

Marjan Keypour Greenblatt, Jewish Iranian Religious Minorities Activist

Marjan Keypour Greenblatt is the Founder and Director of the Alliance for Rights of All Minorities (ARAM), a non-profit organization which promotes human rights in Iran. As a former refugee who escaped discrimination in the Middle East and Europe, her career has focused on advocacy for human rights and advancement of democratic ideals. She has led advocacy and educational efforts on behalf of women, LGBT groups, religious and ethnic minorities in the US and Iran. She has collaborated with law enforcement, religious and grassroots leaders to prevent and respond to hate crimes and bias-motivated incidents. She holds a degree in sociology from UCLA and a Master’s in Education from Harvard University.

Johnnie Moore, Evangelical Leader & Religious Minorities Activist

Rev. Johnnie Moore is an author and Founder and CEO of The KAIROS Company, an elite public relations firm. In 2015 his novel, Defying Isis: Preserving Christianity in the Place of Its Birth and in Your Own Backyard was published to wide acclaim.   Johnnie is the recipient of the Simon Wiesenthal’s Medal of Valor in 2017 for his work in rescuing 149 Christian from persecution in the Middle East. In January 2018, Johnnie organized a meeting and press conference on the Hill with Nancy Pelosi and a handful of top Christian leaders in advocacy for Dreamers. In February 2018, he did a tour of the Middle East meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and US Ambassador David Friedman.

Alireza Nader, Iran Human Rights Activist & Independent Researcher

Alireza Nader is the founder and CEO of New Iran, a nonprofit and nonpartisan research and advocacy organization focusing on Iran. He is an internationally recognized expert on Iran who has spent his career researching Iran and providing recommendations to U.S. policymakers. A former RAND senior researcher, Alireza has published numerous studies on Iranian internal politics, decision-making, and foreign policy. He has testified before Congress and is regularly interviewed by the U.S. and international media on Iran and the Middle East.

Jomana Qaddour, Iraq/Syria/Turkey Minorities Researcher & Activist

Jomana Qaddour is a doctoral student at Georgetown University Law Center focusing on ethno-sectarian identities and their impact on legal and constitutional frameworks. She is also the co-founder of Syria Relief & Development, a humanitarian organization that has implemented over $50 million worth of humanitarian and emergency relief to Syrians in Syria and the region.   Previously, she worked as a senior policy analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, covering Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Egypt. Prior to that, she served as a senior research assistant for the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World in the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, where she focused on Syria, Egypt, Palestinian politics, and Islamist movements. Jomana holds a J.D. from the University of Kansas School of Law and an LLM from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Samuel Tadros, Scholar, Researcher & Activist

Samuel Tadros is a Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom. He is a Contributor to the Hoover Institution’s Herbert and Jane Dwight Working Group on Islamism and the International Order and was previously a Professorial Lecturer at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University. His current research focuses on Egyptian politics, Islamist movements, and the fate of religious minorities. He is the author of Motherland Lost: The Egyptian and Coptic Quest for Modernity and most recently Reflections on the Revolution in Egypt both published by Hoover Press. Born and raised in Egypt, he received an M.A. in Democracy and Governance from Georgetown University and a B.A. in Political Science from the American University in Cairo. He has studied at the Coptic Theological Seminary in Cairo. In 2007 he was chosen by the State Department for its first Leaders for Democracy Fellowship Program in collaboration with Syracuse University.

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.

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