The Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar – Critical Questions

 By Leif Maynard   Who are the Rohingya? The Rohingya are an ethnic Muslim minority residing in Myanmar, one of the 135 ethnic groups of the South Asian country. The majority of the estimated one million Rohingya are concentrated in the Rakhine State on Myanmar’s western border with Bangladesh, where they make up one third […]

How do we heal?

  By Leif Maynard There is a certain kind of shock that follows an act of violence by an extremist group. In the case of Charlottesville, this shock stems from the realization of the widespread prevalence of these extremists. Through the attacks in Barcelona, we see how effective radicalization has become, and how it has […]

The Orlando Massacre and a Note to American-Muslims

  Critical Connections stands in solidarity with the LGBTQ community and extends heartfelt condolences to all those affected by the deadliest mass shooting in American history. A note to American-Muslims: Fellow American-Muslims, please don’t let the Orlando shooter’s religious identity consume and paralyze you. He never claimed to, nor does he, represent you so please […]

Honest Conversations with Muslim Neighbors

By Katherine Bruns (Guest Blogger) The CT Council for Interreligious Understanding (CCIU), the Muslim Coalition of CT, and Hartford Seminary presented the seventh in a series called “Honest Conversations with Muslim Neighbors” on January 28th, at the First Church in Middletown, CT, hosted by the Middletown Refugee Resettlement Coalition, of which First Church is a member. […]

Righting our Narrative

by Bernie Pelletier     On December 20th, 2015, Mr. John Larson, U.S. Representative for Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District convened an interfaith panel of 4 muslim representatives (2 imams and 2 heads of Islamic centers), a rabbi, and a priest for a roundtable discussion on tolerance and inclusion. The event took place at the Hartford […]

Muslim Guilt and San Bernardino

By Mehlaqa Samdani When three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic were brutally gunned down by a white, American extremist last week, as an American, I did not condemn the atrocity. Nor did I condemn every instance of a mass shooting that occurred over the past year in the United States by my fellow Americans. […]

Collaborating Against Sectarian Intolerance in Pakistan

  On November 19-22, the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding and Critical Connections, in partnership with the Peace and Education Foundation, convened a multi-day workshop, ‘Collaborating Against Violent Sectarianism’ in Islamabad, Pakistan. The workshop brought together an ideologically diverse group of 24 participants representing four sectors: human rights, education, religious clergy and the media. These included […]

Combatants for Peace–Event Blog

by Justine Berg     “The occupation will have to end, maybe not soon, but sometime. At Combatants for Peace we are both working to make that end sooner, and also demonstrating how we will live after that happens. We have to dismantle one society while building a new one at the same time.” – […]

Exploring Collaborative Approaches to Preventing Violent Extremism

By Mariam Awaisi Countering Violent Extremism – popularly termed CVE – was the subject of Critical Connections’ event on Sunday, October 4, “Exploring Collaborative Approaches to Preventing Violent Extremism.” Held in partnership with and the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts (ISWM) in West Springfield, MA, the event convened three speakers with distinct viewpoints on what […]

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): A Backgrounder

  Who is a violent extremist?  The U.S. Government defines violent extremists as individuals “who support or commit ideologically motivated violence to advance political goals”. While there are a range of violent extremist groups operating in the United States, including right-wing neo-Nazi groups, Sovereign Citizens, and other anti-government outfits, the U.S. government has currently prioritized […]

The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Addressing Political and Humanitarian Dimensions

By Mariam Awaisi   On Monday, September 28, Critical Connections’ latest event – “The Syrian Refugee Crisis: Addressing Political and Humanitarian Dimensions” – brought the ongoing plight of Syrian refugees into sharp relief and close to home. Held at the Jones Library in Amherst and co-sponsored by the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, the panel discussion […]

Syria Backgrounder: Diplomatic and Humanitarian Dimensions of U.S. Policy in Syria

  What is the current U.S. strategy in Syria? As it currently stands, U.S. policy towards Syria includes ratcheted up air strikes against ISIS targets in both Syria and Iraq, a $500 million program to equip and train the moderate opposition, and a $5 billion Counterterrorism Partnership Fund that aims to strengthen Syria’s neighbors’ capacity […]

Critical Review: “The Two-State Delusion, Israel and Palestine, A Tale of Two Narratives” by Padraig O’Malley

By Bernard Pelletier (Program Director, Critical Connections)  Padraig O’Malley, the author of “The Two State Delusion”, is no stranger to intractable conflicts. He was a key participant in ending the centuries long strife between Catholic and Protestant Ireland. From there he turned his attention to South Africa documenting the transition from apartheid to freedom. In […]

A Taste of Ramadan

By Bernard Pelletier   “Can a man who is warm understand one who is freezing?” – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn That was the question posed by Muslim Chaplin Iskandar Atajanow as he spoke on the importance of Ramadan fasting. Chaplain Iskandar who grew up in Tajikistan used this quote from Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn to illustrate how […]

Between ISIS and Islamophobia: The American-Muslim Dilemma

By Mehlaqa Samdani Many people around the U.S. heaved a collective sigh of relief when the protest organized by armed bikers outside a mosque in Phoenix, Arizona ended without incident last week. And yet the anti-Muslim rally and the events that led up to it shed light on critical gaps, which if left unattended will […]

Building Inclusive Communities: Engaging with our Muslim-American Neighbors

By Mariam Awaisi  “All of us share more similarities than differences – the obstacles we have to overcome are ignorance, fear and alienation. Our job is to become more energetic and more convinced that we can in fact make change.” (Dr. Kamal Ali, speaker on the law enforcement panel) On Friday, April 10, Critical Connections […]

They died, but not in vain

Deah Barakah, 23, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, Razan Abu-Salha, 19 The American-Muslim community is still reeling from the cold-blooded murders of three young American-Muslim students killed in their Chapel Hill, N.C. home on February 10.  And yet, just as in their short lives these beautiful souls mobilized their communities to help the homeless, the hungry and […]

Analysis of the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar (KQED)

“At least 132 children were killed on Tuesday when Taliban militants attacked a school in Peshawar in northwest Pakistan. The Pakistani Taliban targeted the army-run school because it wanted the government to “feel the pain” in retaliation for an ongoing military offensive. We discuss the attack and its repercussions.” Host: Michael Krasny Guests: Mehlaqa Samdani, […]

Diaspora Communities and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Jewish, Muslim, and Christian activism in the U.S. plays a critical role in shaping public opinion and U.S. policy with respect to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Israel’s military campaign in Gaza this past summer highlighted the increasingly important role of diaspora communities in influencing the narrative and hence the trajectory of the conflict. To analyze the […]



Dr. Peter Coleman

THURS, OCT. 19, 7-9 PM


Bangs Community Center       70 Boltwood Walk        Amherst, MA


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These events are part of our Transforming this Moment series and are organized in partnership with the Karuna Center for Peacebuilding. For more details, please click here. Our events are made possible by Mass Humanities, whose grants inspire considered thoughts, conversations, and action


Friday, December 8, 2017        9-4pm                               Holyoke Community College Holyoke, MA

A daylong event with  educators, religious clergy, law-enforcement personnel, social workers, and Muslim community leaders committed to building inclusive communities.


Prof. Sudha Setty on the future of American-Muslims under the Trump administration


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Mr. Daryl Johnson on homegrown extremism


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