Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe
234 Ford House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-6460
Hon. Christopher H. Smith, Chairman
Hon. Benjamin L. Cardin, Co-Chairman
Media Contact: Neil Simon
February 9, 2010


WASHINGTON— U.S. Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Chairman of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission) and Co-Chairman Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) announced today the launch of “Diversity Dialogues” – a discussion series focused on issues of tolerance and anti-discrimination in the OSCE region. Join us for the first conversation:

“Beyond the Burqa: The Politics of Islam in France”
Tuesday, February 9
2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
2456 Rayburn House Office Building

France’s 5 million Muslims are increasingly on the national agenda. Ahead of regional elections in March, members of France’s ruling party have called for banning burqas and preventing veiled Muslim women from becoming citizens. A national dialogue on identity has raised questions of whether Muslims and other minorities are “French.” Speakers will discuss the impact such efforts have on French anti-terrorism and integration initiatives.

Panelists include:
Mr. Mohamed-Ali Adraoui, Lecturer, Institute of Political Studies of Paris, France
Mr. Nabil Hajlaoui, Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Middle East and North Africa, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Dr. Justin Vaïsse, Senior Fellow, Director of Research Center on the US and Europe, Brookings Institution

Mr. Adraoui’s and Mr. Hajlaoui’s visit to the United States is sponsored by the International Visitor Leadership Program of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Full biographies are below.

Mr. Mohamed-Ali Adraoui is a lecturer and researcher at the Institute of Political Studies. A specialist on Islam, and more specifically of Salafism in France and Europe, he recently published a study entitled Global Salafism, Islam's New Religious Movement and has conducted research on the impact of Salafism on the French suburbs for the Research and Forecast Center of the French Ministry of Interior. Mr. Adraoui is active in the field of interfaith dialogue as a member of Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow, an international program managed by the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA). He was also recently elected as Town Adviser for the city of Vernon.

Mr. Nabil Hajlaoui currently works within the French Foreign Ministry in the position of Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for the Middle East and North Africa branch. In this capacity, Mr. Hajlaoui has been responsible for developing and executing French media strategy in the Middle East. His duties involve constant monitoring of Arab and Israeli media and proposing new and creative means to communicate the French perspective to outside audiences.

Dr. Justin Vaïsse is an accomplished French expert on American foreign policy, France and Europe, Vaïsse has held several positions in government and academia. Currently a Senior Fellow and Director of Research of the Center on the US and Europe at Brookings, he served as a special adviser on the United States and transatlantic relations at the Centre d'Analyse et de Prévision (the Policy Planning Staff) of the French Foreign Ministry. He was an adjunct professor at Sciences-Po in Paris from 2003 to 2007, and is currently an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). Vaïsse is the author or co-author of several books, including “Integrating Islam: Political and Religious Challenges in Contemporary France.”