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University of Iowa News Release

March 16, 2005

'Muslim Refusenik' To Deliver Levitt Lecture

Irshad Manji, a self-styled Muslim Refusenik and author of the book "What's the Matter with Islam Today?" will discuss how moderates can reclaim the soul of Islam in a lecture at the University of Iowa on Thursday, April 21 at 4 p.m. in the Main Lounge in the Iowa Memorial Union.

Admission to the lecture, the 2005 Richard S. Levitt Lecture presented by the UI College of Law, is free and open to the public.

Toronto-native Manji says the lecture, like her book, is an open letter from a Muslim voice of reform to concerned citizens worldwide about why Islam needs to come to terms with the diversity of ideas, beliefs and people, and why non-Muslims have a pivotal role in achieving that goal. The themes the book explores most particularly are the inferior treatment of women in Islam, the Jew-bashing that so many Muslims persistently engage in and the continuing scourge of slavery in countries ruled by Islamic regimes.

Manji acknowledges that every faith has its share of fundamentalists, but only in Islam is fundamentalism mainstream. As a result, when abuse happens under the banner of Islam, most Muslims have no clue how to dissent, debate, revise or reform.

The Trouble with Islam Today shows Muslims how to re-discover Islam's lost tradition of independent thinking -- a tradition known as "ijtihad" -- and re-discover it precisely to update Islam for the 21st century.

The book has been praised by moderate Muslims around the world and other critics as a thought-provoking analysis. Oprah Winfrey recently honored Manji with her first annual Chutzpah Award for "audacity, nerve, boldness and conviction."  Ms. magazine has selected her as a "Feminist for the 21st Century." Maclean's, Canada's national news magazine, named her one of 10 "Canadians Who Make a Difference," and in June, Manji received the Simon Wiesenthal Award of Valor. Most recently, OUT magazine has included Manji in its list of "top success stories of 2004."

The Richard S. Levitt Family Distinguished Lectureship was created in 1995 through a generous endowment gift from the Levitt family to the Iowa Law School Foundation. The purpose of the Levitt Lectures is to bring to the Iowa campus distinguished national and international figures in law and government to present timely lectures to students, faculty and alumni of the College of Law. Prior Levitt Lecturers include U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, former U.S. general Wesley Clark, former Republic of Ireland President Mary Robinson, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, and four Nobel Peace Prize winners: Elie Wiesel, Abba Eban, Bishop Desmond Tutu and John Hume.

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

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010, tom-snee@uiowa.edu.