Public Speaker Zainab Al-Suwaij with Speaking Matters, a speakers bureau

our speakers:

Zainab Al-Suwaij


  • Interfaith Dialogue Post-September 11
  • The Challenge for Women's Equality in the Muslim World
  • Good News From Basra: A Changemaker's View from Iraq

Travels from: Washington, DC

Zainab Al-Suwaij is the co-founder of the American Islamic Congress. A native of Iraq, her grandfather is the leading cleric in Basra and she is a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad. She participated in the failed internal uprising against Saddam Hussein in 1991 and then fled to the United States. After the September 11 attacks, Al-Suwaij left her job as a refugee resettlement advisor to co-found a progressive Muslim organization dedicated to promoting interfaith tolerance and individual rights, at home and throughout the Muslim world.

She has published editorials in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and the Los Angeles Times. She appears regularly on CNN, Fox, and Aljazeera, and has been interviewed by Katie Couric, Barbara Walters, and Harry Smith. She has testified to Congress, met with the President, and organized State Department briefings.

As a Muslim-American woman of traditional background yet progressive orientation, she serves as a bridge across cultures, religious divides, and political differences. She has also spent several years on the ground in southern Iraq leading a women's civil society empowerment initiative; led conferences for young activists in Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt; and participated in interfaith workshops on Muslim integration in Europe.

Having previously worked resettling Sudanese refugees in the US, Al-Suwaij is also outspoken on genocide in Sudan. In April of 2006, she spoke at a national rally for Darfur alongside George Clooney and other interfaith activists.

Al-Suwaij has spoken at mosques, churches, synagogues, and at various interfaith conferences. She has lectured at Harvard's Kennedy School, Yale Law School, and at many other universities, day schools, and civic centers. She also collaborates with the genocide education project Facing History and Ourselves.