World Affairs Forum Seeks Discussion Based on Facts

Here is a shout-out to all of those small, lesser-known clubs at BU–you don’t have to be in The Dear Abbeys or BU Central to be awesome. The BU World Affairs Forum embodies one of the many reasons why we all love this school: our students want to learn, be informed, and have discussions about global topics.

On Thursday, October 11, the World Affairs Forum gathered around a conference room table on the third floor of the GSU, a small group with printed articles and notes scattered on the table.

The forum was to discuss the chaos in the Middle East, specifically the man who re-dubbed an amateur movie to turn it into an anti-Islam film, which led to demonstrations in the Middle East and the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens.

Salma Yehia
World Affairs Forum President Salma Yehia participates in discussion about the recent killing of Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya. | Photo by Emily Payne

This discussion took place in preparation for WAF’s larger discussion with International Relations Professor Stephen Kinzer on Wednesday, October 24. Kinzer is an award-winning foreign correspondent who has spent 20 years working for the New York Times, covered more than 50 countries on five continents, and authored seven books.

Salma Yehia, WAF president, began with the facts:

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is the name of the Egyptian-born U.S. resident who produced the controversial anti-Islam video titled The Innocence of Muslims. Nakoula had dubbed over his original film, Desert Warrior, about people preparing for the end of the world, to create The Innocence of Muslims and uploaded it to YouTube in July 2012. In early September, someone translated it into Arabic and uploaded it again to YouTube. On September 9, 2012, Egyptian TV Network Al-Nas broadcasted the video and by September 11 protests broke out across Libya, Egypt, and other Muslim countries.

On September 11, J. Christopher Stevens, U.S. Ambassador to Libya, and three others were killed in an embassy attack. The attack was believed to be a result of the violent protests, but recent evidence suggests a planned terrorist attack, unrelated to the protests.

Yehia had gathered all of this in a handout and explained, “I want people to base their opinions off of facts, not other people’s opinions. I want to clear all misconceptions.”

This reflects the basic idea behind World Affairs. Vice President Dan Carman says that what distinguishes them from other student groups of their kind is that they have discussions, not lectures. They hang out on couches and have informed talks about what is really happening, analyzing facts and listening to others’ opinions.

Culture and religion, two very different concepts, are often mixed together and create misconceptions that blur the lines between fact and opinion. The World Affairs Forum discussions seek to focus on thoughtful analysis of the situation. Some questions brought up were:

-Did the film spark the anti-American protest, or was it more of a reaction against general American foreign policy in the Middle East?

-Should Nakoula have been persecuted for creating the film?

-Should the United States continue to give aid to Libya?

Yehia beamed as she showed the group’s flyer for the upcoming discussion with Kinzer. Remembering past dinners and discussions the group has had with the well-known professor, she has no doubt that this will be a great event.

The World Affairs Forum is just one example of the countless ways to get informed, get involved, and find thoughtful discussion at BU. Whatever may be going on in the world, there is always someone who wants to discuss it, figure out why it happened, and formulate logical conclusions. Join the talk!

Stephen Kinzer: Chaos in the Middle East will be held at on October 24, 2012, 6-7:30 pm in the GSU Academy Room. Email for more information.

Emily Payne

Emily is The Quad's Managing Editor. Hailing from the smallest state, she loves the outdoors, photography, indie rock, biking, and all things Irish or organic. She has an addiction to running and can laugh about basically anything. Follow her @erpayne.

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