By: Karen Shen, intern at Niagara and student at Northwestern University
The ongoing conflict in Syria has been in and out of front page headlines for months now. Much of the information that hits newsstands, while updating readers on continuing developments in the strife-ridden country, tends to focus primarily on the foreign policy plans of Western countries looking to assist Syria in achieving peace. While this information is important to help the general public better understand the situation in Syria, there are still untold sides to this story.
One underreported aspect in Syria is the work of doctors and humanitarian groups attempting to treat the many civilians who have been affected by the fighting. Medical professionals affiliated with groups like Doctors Without Borders and the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS) have dedicated countless months of work to the hidden battle against the abysmal lack of medical care in Syria. According to a recent New York Times article on the subject, some doctors affiliated with SAMS even risked their lives to collect hair and urine samples for evidence that led to the initial discovery and confirmation of the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian conflict. Despite the dangerous conditions for health professionals in the field including the “deliberate targeting of hospitals [and] medical personnel,” these doctors continue to contribute to the ongoing effort to provide medical assistance to as many Syrian people as possible.
With this in mind, the Niagara Foundation is excited to present a Niagara Forum with two prominent local experts on Syria to bring our community their unique perspectives on the situation in the region. On November 14th, Dr. Zaher Sahloul, Founding President of the Syrian American Medical Society and Laith Al-Saud, professor at DePaul University will come together to give you a full view of the issues in Syria from the political front to the medical front to the academic front.
Laith Al-Saud is a former columnist at Al Jazeera and is a regular contributor to NPR, recently reporting on interviews he gathered from the Muslim Brotherhood during his visit to Egypt at the time of the Egyptian Revolution. Having an extensive background in the Middle East, Al-Saud will be able to put events in Syria into a global and historical context. Dr. Zaher Sahloul is a physician and President of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, but is also the founding president of the largest chapter of the Syrian American Medical Society, which does incredible work for the people of Syria, including alerting the international community about chemical weapons use in the country. Sahloul has lobbied with other local American Syrian, Arab and Muslim activists, policy-makers and members of Congress, and the media in support of issues concerning the Syrian community. Sahloul will be able critically analyze Syria through a complex medical and political perspective. His experiences with the Syrian American Medical Society have given him a unique insight on the intersection between health and politics. Reserve your seat here.