"Ending Saudi Extremism"—The Bustany-Kasem Friendship Forum

terence ward and ani zonneveld discuss saudi arabia, wahhabism, yemen and the murder of jamal khashoggi

On December 20th, The Markaz in partnership with the Los Angeles World Affairs Council presents a major public forum on "Ending Saudi Extremism," which will look at several critical factors with respect to the U.S.-Saudi-Iran relationship, among them Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, where 14 million people are on the verge of starvation; the unresolved question of journalist Jamal Khashoggi's assassination; the U.S.-Saudi-Israel triangle calling for war with Iran; and the extremist Wahhabi sect which has changed the way Islam is preached around the world.

Our guest speakers for this forum are author Terence Ward, speaking on his new book, The Wahhabi Code: How the Saudis Spread Extremism Globally (Arcade 2018), and moderator Ani Zonneveld, the founder and president of Muslims for Progressive Values. This forum is the first in a new Markaz series entitled The Bustany-Kasem Freedom Forum, in honor of Arab American luminaries Don Bustany and Casey Kasem, long-time advocates for peace and freedom for the Middle East. The Bustany-Kasem Friendship Forum is dedicated to the progressive search for peace. It will be introduced by the daughter of the late Casey Kasem, Kerri Kasem.

"There is no better primer for understanding the rise of jihadist violence than my friend Terence Ward's The Wahhabi Code: How the Saudis Export Extremism Globally. . . . His impeccable research destroys the prejudices and myths surrounding the distortion of Islam to benefit the Saudi royal family, western oil companies and arms dealers."—Charles Glass, author of the Middle East: Syria Burning and Tribes with Flags

"Ending Saudi Extremism" takes place on Thursday, 12/20 at 7:30 pm (doors open 6:45) at the Harmony Gold Theatre, 7655 Sunset Blvd (corner of north Stanley Ave), Los Angeles CA 90046. There is free parking below and behind the building.

Tickets are $30 general admission/seating, including a copy of The Wahhabi Code (a $24.99 value); or $45 with Preferred Seating, also with a copy of the book. The Markaz invites you to renew your membership with this first Bustany-Kasem Friendship Forum event per the below, or make a year-end contribution here.*

Read Terence Ward's recent article in the LA Times about the slaying of journalist Jamal Khashoggi here.

Future programs of The Bustany-Kasem Friendship Forum will explore Palestinian rights; Islamophobia and the harsh realities for immigrants in the Trump era; the affects of the government's anti-Iran ban on the Iranian people and on their relatives Stateside; and the "Unfinished Revolution" in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia etc. Your support** for this friendship and education series is most welcome.

More on the Speakers

Terence Ward, an American who grew up in and spent over thirty years living in Iran, Saudi Arabia and other countries of the Middle East, argues that it is Saudi Arabia—not Iran—which is funding global terrorism. With international condemnation of Saudi Arabia for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi galvanizing world news, and the UN call for an end to the war in Yemen which has caused this century’s worst humanitarian disaster, this forum will attempt to answer myriad questions about the future of moderate Islam in the face of the extremism represented by Wahhabism.

According to Ward and others he cites in his book (among them Fareed Zakaria and Charles Glass), Saudi Arabia is the largest exporter of Wahhabism, the severe, ultra-conservative sect of Islam that, while being Saudi Arabia's official religion, is the foundation for international terror groups such as ISIS, Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Boko Haram. In hopes of expanding their influence, the KSA’s efforts are now being focused on European cities, spreading the reach of extremism from East to West. Ward and experts he cites suggest that the front lines of the "War on Terror" aren't a world away; they're in our own backyard. 

Ward is a writer, producer, and cross-cultural consultant on the Middle East. For 25 years, he has advised companies, foundations and governments. Born in Boulder, Colorado, he grew up in Saudi Arabia and Iran. He received his BA in political science at the University of California at Berkeley. Continuing his studies in Egypt at the American University of Cairo, he specialized in Near Eastern history and contemporary Islamic political movements. Later, he received his MBA from the International Management Institute (IMI) in Geneva. His latest book is The Wahhabi Code: How the Saudis Spread Extremism Globally.

Ani Zonneveld is a progressive Malaysian-American Muslim and founder and president of Muslims for Progressive Values. MPV is the oldest progressive Muslim human rights organization in the U.S. and advocates for a moderate mainstream practice of Islam, while supporting women, LGBTQ rights, freedom of expression and conscience. Since its inception, Ani has presided over MPV’s expansion to include chapters and affiliates in eight U.S. cities. She also spearheaded the founding of the umbrella organization, Alliance of Inclusive Muslims, with members spanning five continents. She serves as a Faith Advisory Council member to the United Nations which has commissioned her to produce anti-hate curriculum for the Muslim world. She has organized numerous interfaith arts and music festivals, and is the co-editor of MPV’s first book, an anthology titled Progressive Muslim Identities – Personal Stories from the U.S. and Canada, as well as executive producer of a video series “LGBTQI Rights in Islam.” She gave her TEDx talk titled – Islam: As American As Apple Pie, and is the subject of an award winning documentary titled "al-imam" which will be screened at the forthcoming Cannes Film Festival. As a Grammy certified songwriter, she utilizes the power of music and the arts in countering radicalism as she speaks-sings her message of social justice and peace from a progressive Muslim woman’s perspective. 

About Our Partner

the los angeles world affairs councilPublic programs of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council feature major figures from the field of international relations and include top representatives of foreign governments (primarily presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers, and ambassadors), major figures in American politics, business leaders, journalists and authors, public intellectuals and other notable individuals from fields as diverse as religion, arts & entertainment, science and technology.

As a non-partisan organization, the LAWAC does not endorse any point of view or take any institutional stand on issues of public debate but welcomes a wide variety of opinions from speakers and our members.

* Tax-deductible contributions may be sent by check payable to The Markaz/MPV, 1626 Wilcox Avenue, Suite 702, Los Angeles CA 90028-6206.

** Special thanks for forum support from Stephen O. Lesser and Paul Alan Smith.

  • December 20, 2018 at 7:30pm – 9:30pm
  • Harmony Gold Theatre, 7655 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles CA 90046
  • $30.00 USD
  • Jordan Elgrably

Will you come?

$120.00 Markaz Membership for 2019 (members receive free entry and reserved seating to all Bustany-Kasem forum events)
$45.00 Preferred Ticket (reserved seating and copy of "The Wahhabi Code")
$30.00 General Admission (non-served seating and copy of "The Wahhabi Code")

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