Eastern Mennonite University

Spring 2007

Demand High for Peace Institute

Iraqi Peace Worker Killed

SPI group photo
An Iraqi-Muslim advocate for peace and reconciliation, who received training at EMU for his work with traumatized people, was assassinated this winter.

(Dr. Alharith Hussan is pictured above center, sitting behind his wife Maysa Jaber, at EMU in 2004.)

Dr. Alharith Abdulhameed Hassan, 56-year-old professor of psychiatry at the University of Baghdad, was shot while traveling to work on Dec. 6, according to an e-mail sent in mid-January by his bereaved widow, Maysa Hussam Jaber, to friends at EMU.

Both Hassan and Jaber attended trainings under EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) in the summer of 2004. They were selected and sponsored by Mennonite Central Committee, with additional support from Church World Service.

Jan Jenner, a member of CJP’s leadership team who knew the couple, said: “Dr. Alharith Hassan was a man who cared pas-sionately about the people of Iraq. His death, among thousands and thousands in this tragic war, is a great loss to Iraq and to the human community as a whole.”

At his death Hassan was director-general of the psychological research center at the University of Baghdad. Hassan’s resume lists degrees for medicine, surgery and psychiatry from universities in Baghdad, London, Dublin, and Edinburgh.

Jaber wrote that she does not know who her husband’s killers were or why they targeted him. He was well-known to be moder-ate, “working for the good of Iraq with no ethnic or religious bias,” she said. Jaber added: “Please, my friends, remember Alharith in your prayers as a man of love,” who continuously called for “love, peace, forgiveness and the power of knowledge.”

About a year earlier, another CJP-taught person, Christian Peacemaker Team member Tom Fox, gave his life for peace in Iraq.

The Summer Peacebuilding Institute (SPI) continues to thrive, despite the hurdles that international students must cross to get to the United States.

“Getting a visa to come to the United States can take up to three months these days,” says SPI director Pat Hostetter Martin.

“And some very qualified applicants are being refused visas for no apparent reason. We have noticed that applicants from certain countries, such as Uganda and Pakistan, have a particularly hard time getting visas, even if they have excellent records as peace workers.”

Despite such difficulties, Martin noted this “invigorating diversity” among the 195 people who attended SPI 2006:

Religions represented included Bahai, Buddhist, Hare Krishna, Hindu, Jewish, Mormon, Muslim, Unitarian-Universalist, and Christians from many streams in addition to Mennonite - Anglican, Apostolic, Catholic, Christian Scientist, Episcopalian, Jehovah's Witness, Lutheran, Orthodox, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Quaker, United Church of Christ.

"We are at capacity," says Martin. "Until EMU has additional classroom space, SPI will not be able to serve many more people.

“Fortunately, other options exist,” she says. “There are a growing number of peacebuilding institutes around the world modeled on SPI, many of them started by our alumni.”

SPI alumni have launched institutes in Ghana, Zambia, Mozambique, and two locations in the Philippines.

Institutes in South Korea and Fiji in the South Pacific are in the planning stage.

“Nevertheless, many people still want to come to SPI at EMU, perhaps because we are able to offer a greater range of courses and more advanced courses for graduate-level credit."

Last year SPI was able to give tuition assistance to 24 students. who would not otherwise have been able to study here.

For more information on SPI, visit www.emu.edu/spi. To make a donation toward scholarships for SPI participants, visit www.emu.edu/giving.

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