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DAC SPEAKERS 

As a central part of its educational work, Darfur Alert sends representatives into the community to present public talks about the crisis. We've already given more than 90 talks. Future presentations can be found under Upcoming Events, while a list of previous talks is available under Accomplishments. DAC fields many requests for speakers. These public presentations can include a DVD chronicling the crisis, educational literature, Darfurian speakers who bear witness to the suffering, and clear recommendations for action by our listeners.We encourage organizations that host our talks to harness the goodwill of their communities by holding benefits and similar events before or after our talk. The results have been wonderful. In 2008 alone, a variety of spirited, often student-run events -- music concerts, a frisbee tournament, a walkathon, an origami-crane sale, and more -- raised over $10,00 for our work. Darfur Alert urges hosting groups to make that extra effort a part of their cooperative relationship with us. Unleash your community's creativity, particularly with your young people! At right, Sahar Dinar and Jim Remsen address an assembly at Strath Haven Middle School outside Philadelphia. The talk launched the school's yearlong awareness campaign.

To request a presentation, please email info@darfuralert.org

Below are biographies of some of our fine speakers:

DR. ALI B. ALI-DINAR is president of the Darfur Alert Coalition and a prominent voice for justice for his suffering homeland. A native of El Fasher in Northern Darfur, he is the grandson of the last king of Darfur, Sultan Ali-Dinar. Dr. Ali-Dinar came to the United States in the 1990s after graduating from the University of Khartoum, and obtained a doctorate in folklore and folklife from the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Ali-Dinar now is the outreach director for Penn’s African Studies Center. During his time here, he has founded the Darfur Information Center, an online resource about the crisis in Sudan, and has given many speeches, interviews and presentations about Darfur at sites such as Georgetown University, Cornell, Swarthmore, the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and the United Nations. In addition to leading the Darfur Alert Coalition, Dr. Ali-Dinar is also president of the Sudan Studies Association in the US, and chair of the Outreach Council of the African Studies Association in the US.


FATIMA HAROUN is vice president of the Darfur Alert Coalition and one of the leaders in speaking out on behalf of the people of Darfur. She is a native of Jebel Marra, a once-gorgeous area in Western Darfur that has been destroyed by the Janjaweed militias in recent years. A graduate of Khartoum University, she has an extensive background in rural development in her homeland. Before the genocide, she helped establish women’s training centers that taught rural women handicrafts and marketing skills, and provided health and literacy education. She is currently working with Southern Sudanese women on reconciliation following the long war in Southern Sudan, and is helping to form an organization that speaks for Sudanese women in general. Ms. Haroun now is a social worker for the city’s Department of Human Services. In her Darfur advocacy, she has testified at U.S. congressional hearings, given many television and newspaper interviews, and been a featured speaker at demonstrations at the White House, the U.S. Holocaust Museum and the national Save Darfur rally in New York City..

 IBRAHIM HAMID, a native of Northern Darfur, is Treasurer of the Darfur Alert Coalition and Chairman of its Finance Committee. He began his activism for Darfur while a student at the University of Khartoum, when he helped organize the first Darfur-Darfur Dialogue for Peace and Solidarity in 1988. Ibrahim graduated with an accounting degree and worked for firms in Sudan and Yemen while continuing his political activism. He became a board member and treasurer of the Darfur Association in Yemen, raising awareness and funds for indigenous tribes in Western Darfur whose rights were being violated by certain government-supported Arab groups. In 1999, the government of Sudan targeted the association and arrested three of its leaders during their visit to Western Darfur, prompting Ibrahim to immigrate to the United States with political asylum status. He went on to serve for two years as an officer of the Western Sudan Association of Greater Philadelphia, in addition to his current leadership in the Darfur Alert Coalition. In 2007, Mr. Hamid also was named to the Darfuri Leaders Network, a U.S.-based alliance of Darfuri diaspora representatives -- and was selected to chair one of its four core committees. In that role, he will work with the U.N. and other international bodies to advance the network's strategies for a durable peace for Darfur.

LOU ANN MERKLE is co-founder and former Executive Director of the Darfur Alert Coalition. She is currently on the board and is an active member of DAC's Projects Committee. University-trained in both international relations and arts education, she has had a rich and varied career as a sculptor, art teacher and passionate political activist. She went to federal prison for a week for opposing the U.S. war in Iraq. Her work is represented in "Reimaging America: The Arts of Social Change," and she curated and exhibited her sculptures in a 2003 exhibition, "Collateral Damage: Echoes in Our Soul" at the Painted Bride Art Center in Philadelphia. In 2006, she led the coalition in organizing the Darfur Speaking Tour, which brought four top Darfurian advocates to the U.S. to address the root causes of the genocide and to present recommendations for action. The tour traveled to over 10 states, reaching more than 60 audiences in six weeks. Ms. Merkle has given many public talks about the Darfur crisis, drawing particular attention to the women and children who are the vast majority of the desperate, dispossessed survivors. 

SAHAR DINAR, 15, a native of Darfur, is founder of the Philadelphia-based Children's Alert Project. She is one of our passionate student representatives who is driven to speak out from personal experience. A descendant of the last ruler of independent Darfur, and the niece of DAC president Dr. Ali-Dinar, Sahar immigrated to Philadelphia with her family at a young age. During a return visit in 2003, while in El Fashir, they were literally caught in the crossfire as the first shots of the current Darfur conflict broke out. They spent a terrifying night huddled under tables and beds, and emerged to find bullet holes everywhere and a neighbor with a bullet in her arm, a wound that remains because the woman can't afford to have it removed. Today, Sahar attends public school in Northeast Philadelphia, devoting her time both to her studies and to following the events in her homeland. In early 2007, she organized the Children’s Alert Project (C.A.P.) as a way to support the children and women of Darfur. Under her leadership, C.A.P. brought together young activists—both Americans and Darfurians—for a conference to discuss projects and strategies. In the summer of 2007, she visited Darfur with her family and delivered school supplies to a local school. Sahar says that “The greatest joy about working with C.A.P. is knowing the fact that you are helping save people’s lives.”

EMTITHAL MAHMOUD is a 14-year-old Darfur native whose beautiful poems about the suffering in her homeland have moved audiences to tears and action. The daughter of Darfurian expatriates now living in Philadelphia, Emi traveled in 2005 to Darfur, where she experienced a soldiers' raid of a home in which she was staying. She saw orphans her own age scrounging for food in filthy refugee camps and witnessed a soldier's brutality meted out against a crippled vendor in a village market. She returned to her home in the U.S. blazing to speak out for the voiceless. Emtithal has addressed rallies in Washington D.C. and New York City, and is a sought-after speaker for educational programs. The precocious Emi is a sophomore at the Julia Masterman Middle School in Philadelphia.
 BURT SIEGEL, Darfur Alert's Communications Director, is former executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Philadelphia, having retired in October 2008 after a distinguished tenure. A veteran professional in community affairs, he was appointed by three mayors to be a member of the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations, and until recently was its vice chairman. He has served on numerous boards and commissions, including the Philadelphia Bar Association Commission on Judicial Selection and Retention, several community advisory committees to the Philadelphia Board of Education, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, and the Advisory Committee of Black Clergy of Philadelphia and Vicinity. He also has been an instructor at the Philadelphia Police Academy. An authority on interfaith and intergroup affairs, Mr. Siegel regularly provides his expertise in published essays, government testimony, guest lectures, and media interviews.

 MUHDY BAHRADIN, a member of the Darfur Alert Coalition's Education Committee, is a native of Western Darfur who has first-hand experience with the conflict and continuing crisis. Mr. Bahradin was born in Nertity, in Darfur, and went on to achieve a bachelor’s degree in economics and rural development from the University of Gazira and a master’s degree in development economics. From there, he taught at primary schools and high schools in his hometown, became active in community-empowerment groups, and worked as an executive member of an environmental protection organization. He was a lecturer in economics and development economics at the University of Bakht el Ruda in 2002 before immigrating to the U.S., where he is now a permanent resident. Mr. Bahradin works with Northwestern Human Services and is an independent contractor with Staffing Plus as therapeutic staffing support. In his Darfur activism, he is particularly concerned with issues of development, peace, poverty-eradication, and education for women in his homeland.

 SUAD MANSOUR, a native of North Darfur, spent 9 years as a pioneering leader in women's development in Sudan before fleeing to the US, where she now is a permanent resident. After graduating from universities in Sudan and Ireland, Suad joined the staff of several NGOs, including Oxfam, which focuses on rural women's development in Sudan. In 1995, she helped form a Community Development Committee serving women displaced by the civil war in southern Sudan, as well as by drought and in western Sudan. The CDC became a model for involving displaced women in shaping their own economic and political future through leadership training. Suad Mansour became president of the organization and helped to build its programs. However, when the CDC received funds from a Canadian source without government permission, she was targeted by Sudanese security forces. She decided to leave the organization—and then to leave Sudan for her own safety. Her CDC continued to work effectively because the women had been empowered to work by themselves. In February 2005, Suad returned to spend four months in refugee camps in Chad, where she met countless survivors who witnessed the bombing and burning of their villages, the loss of family members, and brutal rapes. She brings her passion to the Darfur Alert Coalition, where she chairs the Projects Committee and is a founding board member. In 2007, she also was named to the Darfuri Leaders Network, a U.S.-based alliance of Darfuri diaspora representatives -- and was selected to head one of its four core committees. In that role, she is coordinating Darfuri outreach to other advocacy organizations here and abroad.


 MUHGA ELTIGANI of Northeast Philadelphia is an emerging poet and speaker representing the Darfur Alert Coalition. Muhga (pronounced MOO-hah-jah) is 17 and a junior at Julia Masterman High School, where she is a member of the Arts & Crafts Club, the African Culture Club and the basketball team. Muhga was born in Darfur and moved here ten years ago with her family from Nyala, the capital of Southern Darfur. They returned to visit relatives in that turbulent city in the summer of 2005. Muhga recalls seeing many families who had escaped the fighting in the countryside for the relative safety of Nyala. Among the displaced people were some young cousins of hers, aged 5 or 6, who had to leave school to find work as porters in Nyala to help buy water and other necessities for their family because their own parents could not find employment. DR. MAHDI IBN ZIYAD is corresponding secretary of the Darfur Alert Coalition, and a longtime educator and social activist. He currently teaches at Rutgers-Camden and in the Camden public schools. An Air Force veteran from the Vietnam era, he went on to obtain advanced degrees in political science, sociological theory and theoretical criminology, topped by a doctorate in religio-ethical theory and educational philosophy from the Union Institute Graduate School in Cincinnati. Prior to becoming a Muslim, Dr. Ibn-Ziyad was an ordained Christian minister with the Church of the Living God. He also has been a conflict-management specialist for the National Conference of Christians and Jews; national chaplain of Vietnam Veterans Against War; national disarmament and social-justice coordinator at Clergy and Laity Concerned; and non-governmental liaison to United Nations committees on Southern Africa and Namibia. His research and writings have extensively explored the role of Islam in its American context, especially the social fortunes of indigenous African American Muslims