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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Jihad vs. Just War: Understanding Armed Struggle in Islam

Written by Mariam Awaisi  Pick up the latest New York Times, skim through the top entries on The Huffington Post, or tune into the latest headlines on CNN, and you can be sure to read or hear about how various Muslim groups are perpetrating violence in the name of Islam. And it so follows that […]

Diversity is Divine Design

Written by Mariam Awaisi  Difference, plurality, and diversity of opinion were the central themes of the Critical Connections event “Dealing with Difference and Diversity: An Islamic Perspective.” Held at the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts (ISWM) in West Springfield, Massachusetts, the event brought together over forty local Muslims for a community dialogue to discuss intra- […]

Rethinking “Normal”: Challenging Western Narratives of Muslim Women

Written by Justine Berg The second event in the “Bridging the Muslim/non-Muslim Divide” series co-sponsored by Critical Connections and Karuna Center for Peacebuilding, centered on the question “Do Muslim Women Need Saving?” Throughout the evening, around 50 participants engaged this provocative question by examining their own assumptions and biases about Islam, Muslim women, their conceptions […]

The Legacy of 9/11: Domestic and Foreign Policy Trends 12 Years On

Written by Terry James On Sunday, September 25, Critical Connections, along with Hartford 20/20 and the Charter Oaks Cultural Center in Hartford, hosted a panel discussion on the topic of “The Legacy of 9/11.” Speaking were Sandra Staub, legal director of the Connecticut branch of the ACLU; Dr. Falguni Sheth, associate professor of philosophy and […]

Our Conflict Resolution Workshop for Young Adults

Written by Faiza Kaubab Hello all, I hope everyone is having a good summer! Late last month in June, our Executive Director, Mehlaqa Samdani and I went to D.C. to attend the USPAK Foundation’s Annual Youth Conference called ‘Shaping the Future’. There, Mehlaqa held a workshop called ‘From Conflict to Collaboration’. The objective of 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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