This is a press release submitted to the Las Vegas Sun. It has not been verified or edited by the Sun.
Local Woman Attends International Gathering of Muslims and Jews in Slovakia
Published on Fri, Jul 13, 2012 (10:45 a.m.)FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA, Jul. 13, 2013 — Over eighty young Jewish and Muslim leaders traveled to Bratislava, Slovakia to meet for the third annual Muslim Jewish Conference (MJC) from July 8 to 13, 2012. Among them included Komal Ahmad, originally of Las Vegas and now residing in Berkeley, California. Ms. Ahmad joined conference participants from more than 35 countries, from as far away as Pakistan, Israel, Palestine, Libya, Morocco, and Mexico.
Ms. Ahmad is a visiting scholar at the College of Life Sciences at the University of California at Berkeley. She also is the founder of two non-profit organizations, Bare Abundance and Feeding Forward, which both focus on improving food delivery to local populations in need. She graduated from UC Berkeley in May 2012 with degrees in International Health and Development and Global Poverty and Practice. Her family still lives in Las Vegas.
Ms. Ahmad is part of a select group of students and young professionals from a wide array of academic, professional, civic and political fields. Each participant at the MJC was encouraged to develop collaborative projects to bring back to their communities. Ms. Ahmad is working with two participants from Israel and England to launch a five-day interfaith Women 2 Women Conference (W2W) next year. W2W will bring together young women from around the world for mentoring, workshops and leadership training led by established women business leaders.
Shawn Landres, co-founder and CEO of Jumpstart, a Los Angeles-based research and design lab for Jewish and interreligious innovation, flew in from Washington, DC, where he had been a featured speaker at the White House Faith-Based Social Innovators Conference, to serve as a respondent to the project presentations. "I was impressed with the participants' commitment to reach beyond their own comfort zones to meet people where they are," he said. "The projects used technology creatively to reduce both social and geographic distance. A notable theme was the use of imagery, emotion, and shared experiences to catalyze intergroup discovery."
This was Ms. Ahmad’s first time at the MJC. “In today’s world of extreme polarization and constant identity politics, it is far too rare to have Jewish and Muslim leaders working together to achieve the goals that they should share in common. I hope to convince some Muslims, even if I cannot change their minds completely, to be open to empathizing with the Jewish perspective, so that they will be more willing to talk in earnest and begin the dialogue that is critical to understanding, respecting and teaching one another.” Ms. Ahmad said.
Young leaders at the MJC received a formal written greeting from former US President Bill Clinton on the opening night of the conference. “A major focus of my Presidency was the pursuit of peaceful resolutions to ethnic and religious conflict in the Middle East and Eastern Europe…so it’s especially wonderful to see a new generation determined to break down the barriers of ethnicity and religion that too often divide us.” Clinton wrote.
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