Anthropologist, author, and filmmaker Akbar Ahmed, a former Pakistani diplomat, has been exploring the world of Islam and its interactions with the non-Muslim world through a series of books and films. The latest in the series, “Journey Into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity,” comes at a vital time for the EU as it grapples with a migration crisis with no end in sight. A discussion of the film and the issues it explores provides the focus for this edition of  Wilson Center NOW.


Akbar Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies in the School of International Service at American University in Washington, D.C. He has served as a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and was the First Distinguished Chair of Middle East and Islamic Studies at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. Ahmed belonged to the senior Civil Service of Pakistan and was the Pakistan High Commissioner to the U.K. and Ireland. Previously, Ahmed was the Iqbal Fellow (Chair of Pakistan Studies) and Fellow of Selwyn College at the University of Cambridge. Ahmed was the Diane Middlebrook and Carl Djerassi Visiting Professor and Visiting Fellow of Jesus College for the Fall term of 2012 at Cambridge University. He has also taught at Harvard and Princeton Universities. He holds a Ph.D in Anthropology from the University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies (where he is placed in the “notable alumnus” category) and a Diploma in Education (“double distinctions”) and M.A. from the University of Cambridge. Ahmed is the author of over a dozen award-winning books, including “Discovering Islam,” which was the basis of a six-part BBC TV series called “Living Islam.” Ahmed conceived and completed “The Jinnah Quartet” based on the life of M.A. Jinnah to illustrate the compatibility of Islam and democracy within the context of a modern state —“Jinnah,” a feature film starring Sir Christopher Lee; the documentary film “Mr. Jinnah: The Making of Pakistan;” the academic study “Jinnah, Pakistan, and Islamic Identity: The Search for Saladin;” and a graphic novel, “The Quaid: Jinnah and the Story of Pakistan.” He is the author of a quartet of books with Brookings Institution Press examining relations between the West and the world of Islam after 9/11—“Journey into Islam: The Crisis of Globalization (2007);” “Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam” (2010; winner of the 2011 American Book Award and the subject of a documentary film Journey into America); “The Thistle and the Drone: How America’s War on Terror Became a Global War on Tribal Islam” (2013); and the forthcoming “Journey into Europe: Islam, Immigration, and Identity.”

John Milewski is the executive producer and managing editor of Wilson Center NOW and also serves as director of Wilson Center ON DEMAND digital programming. Previously he served as host and producer of Dialogue at the Wilson Center and Close Up on C-SPAN. He also teaches a course on politics and media for Penn State’s Washington Program.