Thursday, May 22, 2008

Aga Khan Film announces Presidential Bid in DC

Okay, not really, but you did open this blog!

Notes from the Capitol Hill Screening (May 20, '08):

Whenever I watch my film at a screening, I always have this fear that the DVD is going to skip or the player is going to malfunction in a meltdown! Then what am I going to do??! Do I apologize? Blame the organizer? The DVD manufacturer? Sit there shrinking in my seat? I decided that if it happened at the DC screening, I would just blame Bush as that seems to be going down well these days with everything.

Thankfully the film played smoothly and the screening went wonderfully! Thank you to Congresswoman Johnson and the Congressional Muslim Staffers Association for hosting the film. Big thanks to Illy for organizing, the panellists for participating, and the audiences for their support.

The panel discussion was with Dr Paul Heck, Professor at Georgetown in Islamic Studies, Dr Zahid Bukhari, Director of the America Muslim Studies Program at Georgetown, and myself. We got some interesting questions and one of them was:
How can businesses help with bridging these divides?

As we say in the film, the AKDN aspires to set an example that for-profit businesses can work in developing countries. For example, right now it is working with private equity firm Blackstone to build a dam in Uganda to increase the country’s electricity capacity. Interested businesses should consider working with the AKDN or similar organizations in what can be very fruitful private/NGO relationships. Making money is not bad. It is what one does with that extra money that can be good or bad. It is possible to make money and still benefit the country and its citizens. I think Grameen Bank has been a wonderful pioneer in this area of a for-profit which is positively impacting the society in which it is based.

At the end of the panel discussion, Congresswoman Johnson gave a heart-warming speech and Congressman Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress, spoke energetically at the end for a few minutes. I will blog a follow-up to this in the next few days with more details of their speeches…

Congresswoman Johnson speaking on ignorance in our current world
R to L: Congresswoman Johnson, Dr Bukhari, Dr Heck, and Shamir

Shamir thinking what he is going to say today...(especially if the DVD player konks out)

In town from Alberta, my friend Jamie (aka designated paparazzi for the day)

Yes, yes: I am totally posing!

"Yes we can!"

Congressman Ellison, the first Muslim member of Congress giving a funny and thoughtful speech

“In the past 50 years, the Aga Khan has been recognized as a global figure who has worked to represent the social conscience of Islam. I deeply respect the philanthropic efforts of his Aga Khan Development Network,” Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson said. “’An Islamic Conscience: The Aga Khan and the Ismailis’ is an impressive documentary.”

Thank you to Ilhaam "Illy" Jaffer, Congresswoman Johnson's assistant for all her hard work in pulling off the screening.

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