Newman University History Department Speaker Series welcomes author, blogger of ‘Making Sense of Jihad’ Nov. 3

Oct 25, 2011

Most Americans are aware of the uprisings against governments in the Middle East over the past year. Few, however, may understand the scenes they see in the media, some quite violent, as they depict extraordinary acts by ordinary citizens taking place in the streets of foreign cities. Newman University is offering the public the opportunity to gain a valuable insight into these revolutions – revolutions now coined The Arab Spring.

The Newman University History Department will present a lecture by author and blogger of Making Sense of Jihad Marisa Shaalan, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 3, in the Dugan-Gorges Conference Center located within the Dugan Library and Campus Center. The lecture is part of the Newman History Department Speaker Series. Shaalan will focus her lecture on her book, Faces of the Arab Spring: True Stories of the Men, Women and Children Who Have Inspired the Revolution. Shaalan believes the Arab Spring inspires many doubts and questions about the future of the Middle East and she will share true stories of pure human drama and sublime humor, and about average people risking everything for a new vision of a better life.

Marisa ShaalanShaalan was born and raised in Long Island, N.Y. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, College Park, and later a Master’s degree from Catholic University. She has worked in government and policy for 20 years, 10 of those as an intelligence analyst supporting the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense.

In addition to her book and blog, which she launched in 2004, she has also co-authored articles for the Combating Terrorism Center’s Sentinel (May 2008), and other publications. Her blog, Making Sense of Jihad, found at, has served as a gateway to primary source information produced and distributed by violent Salafist-jihadist groups, like al-Qaeda.

“The extraordinary events enveloping the Middle East in the past year have great historical importance for the region and the world,” said Cheryl Golden, Newman University associate professor of History and History Speaker Series organizer. “Making sense of the Arab Spring in its own right and in light of current events in Egypt and Syria should help us to better understand the issues of the region and the role democracy may or may not play in its future. Ms. Shaalan’s expertise regarding the intelligence community, and Muslim history and culture should help us to explore these issues.”

In America, we talk of grass roots movements. The Arab Spring gives much greater definition to this term. Those attending this History Series presentation will hear of the experiences found on social media websites, foreign news channels, and in the music, poetry, and art of the people in the middle of it. Newman’s History Speaker Series is free and open to the public. For more information, contact Golden at 316-942-4291, ext. 2178 or e-mail [email protected].