Women and Islam Topic of March 3 University of Puget Sound Lecture

January 24, 2005

Yvonne Ridley Riffat HassanTACOMA, Wash.— Former BBC reporter Yvonne Ridley and University of Louisville Professor Riffat Hassan will speak on the subject of “Women and Islam” at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 3, at the University of Puget Sound Schneebeck Concert Hall. The lecture, which is free and open to the public, is the latest in the university’s series of Swope Lectures on Ethics, Religion, Faith, and Values.

A reception and book signing will follow the lecture in Wyatt Hall Atrium. The events also are free and open to the public.

Veteran journalist Ridley was working for Britain’s Sunday Express in September 2001, when she was captured by the Taliban for illegally entering Afghanistan; she was held captive for 10 days. Upon her release, Ridley turned to the Koran in an attempt to understand her experience. She has since converted to Islam, a religion she calls the “biggest and best family in the world.” Ridley wrote about her experience in In the Hand of the Taliban: Her Extraordinary Story (Robson Books, 2003). She also penned the mystery thriller Ticket to Paradise (Dandelion Books, 2003), which tells the story of a British reporter searching for truth in the Middle East before and after 9/11.

Riffat Hassan, chair of the department of religion at the University of Louisville and founder of the International Network for the Rights of Female Victims of Violence in Pakistan, will join Ridley at the podium. Born into a Saiyyad Muslim family living in Lahore, Pakistan, Hassan is part of a 30-member delegation of Americans of Indian and Pakistani origin currently traveling through India and Pakistan to generate goodwill for the peace and reconciliation process now underway in the two countries. Hassan has written a number of books, including: Selected Writings of Riffat Hassan (International Coordination Office, 1993), Women’s Rights and Islam: From the I.C.P.D. to Beijing (NISA Publications), 1995), and Woman and the Qur’an (Forum, Instituut Voor Multiculturele, 2001). She also co-edited Women’s and Men’s Liberation: Testimonies of Spirit (Greenwood Press, 1991). Hassan frequently lectures and writes about women in Islam, human rights in Islam, and peace education.

The Swope Endowed Lectureship was established at Puget Sound through a gift from Major Ianthe Swope in honor of her mother, Jane Hammer Swope. The lectureship is intended to promote broad discussions, critical thinking, and ethical inquiry about matters of religion, such as its role in public life, issues in contemporary spirituality, ethics, and world religions. Past speakers in the series have included the Rev. Peter Gomes of Harvard, the Rev. Burchell Taylor of Jamaica, civil rights leader the Rev. James Lawson, author and professor Michael Barnett, Nobel Peace Laureate Dr. Oscar Arias, author James Carroll, Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, and Morris Dees of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Schneebeck Concert Hall is located in the center of campus to the east of Thompson Hall, which fronts Union Avenue. Wyatt Hall is located a short walk from Schneebeck Concert Hall, on the west side of campus near Union Ave. and N. 13th.

Recommended parking for both venues is in the Thompson Parking Lot, located on the east side of North 14th and Union Avenue, or along the east side of Union Avenue. Schneebeck Concert Hall and Wyatt Hall Atrium are wheelchair accessible.

Print quality photos of Yvonne Ridley and Riffat Hassan are available on the University of Puget Sound website at www.pugetsound.edu/pressphotos.

Margaret Thorndill, 253.879.3582
Mary Boone, 253.879.2611