Seminar: Extremism, Trauma, and Therapy: Addressing the Rise of ISIS in the Middle East


This seminar explores notions of trauma and associated therapy in order to reflect upon the devastating rise of ISIS in the Middle East, and how it can be addressed. Reflecting on the traumatizing conditions of modern Middle East, and their role in the production of traumatizing ideologies, the seminar looks at extremists tendencies, such as ISIS, that actually weaponize trauma. The seminar will also consider therapies that can be developed in order to address trauma, both as a phenomenon, and as a deliberate methodology. The seminar concludes with pedagogical considerations on how to integrate extremism-prevention therapies into national educational programmes, with view to peaceful and compassionate co-living.


Aref Ali Nayed is the Ambassador of Libya to the United Arab Emirates and is the Founder and Director of Kalam Research & Media (KRM) and Chairman of the Libya Institute for Advanced Studies (LIAS). During the Libyan revolution he was also the Chief Operations Manager of the Libya Stabilization Team. Dr Aref has taught and lectured Islamic Theology, Logic, and Spirituality at the restored Uthman Pasha Madrasa in Tripoli, Libya. He is Senior Advisor to the Cambridge Inter-Faith Programme; Fellow of the Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute in Jordan; Visiting Professor at Fatih Sultan Mehmet University in Istanbul; and a member of the Board of Advisors of the Templeton Foundation. He was Professor at the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies (Rome), and the International Institute for Islamic Thought and Civilization (Malaysia). He previously headed an Information Technology company based in the UAE and Libya. He received his BSc in Engineering, MA in the Philosophy of Science, and a PhD in Hermeneutics from the University of Guelph (Canada). He also studied at the University of Toronto and the Pontifical Gregorian University. He has been involved in various Inter-Faith initiatives since 1987, including the seminal “A Common Word” process, which was one of the most important inter-faith initiated by Muslims.

His published works include Vatican Engagements: A Muslim Theologian’s Journey in Muslim-Catholic Dialogue (KRM, 2016); Operational Hermeneutics: Interpretation as the Engagement of Operational Artifacts (KRM, 2011); co-authored with Jeff Mitscherling and Tanya Ditommaso, The Author’s Intention (Lexington Books, 2004); ISIS in Libya: Winning the Propaganda War (KRM, 2015); Overcoming ISIS Libya: A Disaster Recovery Plan (KRM, 2015); Libya: From Revolutionary Legitimacy to Constitutional Legitimacy (KRM, 2014); Beyond Fascism (KRM, 2013); Growing Ecologies of Peace, Compassion and Blessing: A Muslim Response to ‘A Muscat Manifesto’ (KRM, 2010); and Duties of Proximity: Towards a Theology of Neighborliness (KRM, 2010).

For registration, please fill in this form and email to by 27 March 2016.


Mar 28 2016


10:00 am - 11:30 am


ISEAS Seminar Room 2