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University of Iowa News Release


March 22, 2007

Souaiaia Speaks On Reforms In Northern Africa Region Of Maghreb March 29

Spirits are being lifted in the North African "Maghreb" region as it turns away from its history of non-democratic rule to a more democratic and free government for the people. That subject is the topic of the next Iowa City Foreign Relations Council luncheon from noon to 1 pm. Thursday, March 29, at the Congregational Church, 30 N. Clinton St. in Iowa City.

Ahmed E. Souaiaia, an assistant professor in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Department of Religious Studies, will present the lecture "Politics of Appearances: Religion, Governance and the Press in the Maghreb."

"Using Morocco as a case study, I focus on the prospects of seeing a free press emerging in the Maghreb given the pressures exerted by official and non-official authorities," Souaiaia said. "I argue that government intervention as well as U.S. foreign policy in the region stifle freedom of expression and weaken civil society."

Maghreb means "place of sunset" or "western" in Arabic, and includes the region of Africa north of the Sahara Desert and west of the Nile -- specifically, coinciding with the Atlas Mountains. Geopolitically, the area includes Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya, Western Sahara and sometimes Mauritania.

According to Souaiaia, governance in the Maghreb region is slowly moving to a second generation of rulers after a series of non-democratic practices. Evidence of political and economic reform includes religious and secular groups forming political parties, Islamic parties gaining seats in the Moroccan parliament, the presence of human rights and non-governmental organizations in the region and new independent and party-affiliated newspapers and media outlets, he said.

Souaiaia teaches a variety of courses at the UI, including Human Rights and Islam, Modern Islamic Thought and Political Movements, Comparative Islamic Law, Islamic Ethics and Moral Philosophy and Women in Islam and the Middle East. He earned his doctorate from the University of Washington.

This program is presented in part with the support of Prairie Lights Books and Iowa State Bank & Trust Co. It will be catered by Aladdin Restaurant. For those unable to attend, this lecture will be broadcast on WSUI-AM 910 at 8 p.m. Sunday, April 1, on the News/Talk Iowa Public Radio network.

Reservation forms with a check can be sent to: Iowa City Foreign Relations Council, 1111 University Capitol Centre, Iowa City, IA, 52242-5500. Reservations are $7.50 for members and $8.50 for non-members. The deadline to register is noon Monday, March 26.

For more information on this program, the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council or special accommodations to attend this lecture, contact Thomas Baldridge at 319-384-2260 or Marianne Weiss at 319-335-0351.

The Iowa City Foreign Relations Council is a non-profit association of community and university people interested in learning more about U.S. foreign policy, world affairs and current global issues impacting world societies. The group provides members with the opportunity to hear more than 35 experts per year who visit the UI campus and the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area.

The council is a part of International Programs, which enables University of Iowa students, faculty, staff and the public to learn from and about the world. Its offices, degree programs and events provide life-changing opportunities on campus and abroad, heighten intellectual and cultural diversity, and give all University constituents access to vital international knowledge. For more information, visit or call 319-353-2700. International Programs is part of the Office of the Provost.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Joe Nugent at 319-335-2026 or; Program: Marianne Weiss at 319-335-0351 or; Writer: Erin Vaughn.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Joe Nugent, 319-335-2026,