Thursday, November 18, 2010

Deported Palestinian student to speak at Saint Mary’s Dec. 1

WINONA, Minn. — A Palestinian woman, who made world headlines in 2009 after she was arrested at an Israeli military checkpoint and forbidden to continue her studies at Bethlehem University, will share her story with Winona audiences Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

In October 2009, on her way back to Bethlehem from a job interview, Berlanty Azzam was arrested at a checkpoint and forcibly deported. A Palestinian student from Gaza, Azzam was blindfolded, handcuffed and forbidden by the Israeli military to return to Bethlehem University — just two months shy of completing her bachelor’s degree. The Israeli state never told her why she was denied permission to complete her studies, only that her presence in Bethlehem was illegal. In December 2009, the Israeli High Court upheld the government’s position.

In January 2010, despite not being able to return to school, Azzam completed her degree long-distance from Bethlehem University.

Her story drew international attention from human rights groups and CNN, MSNBC, BBC and the Washington Post.

Since July, Azzam has been sharing her story across the United States. Her presentation in Winona is being hosted through a collaboration between Saint Mary’s University and Bethlehem University, both run by the Brothers of the Christian Schools. The group sponsoring her trip to the U.S. is Project Engage of the Telos Group, a non-profit educational initiative that seeks to educate America’s mainstream faith leaders and their communities about the causes of — and solutions to — the modern conflict that currently ravages the Holy Land.

Winona State University students are being invited to hear Azzam’s story Tuesday, Nov. 30. On Wednesday, Dec. 1, she will speak to Saint Mary’s students.

The public is invited to hear her story at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, at Saint Mary’s University’s Figliulo Recital Hall, located in the Performance Center.

For more information, contact Dorothy Diehl, chair of the Modern/Classical Languages Department at Saint Mary’s University, at (507) 457-1531.

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