Event: ‘Reporting the Middle East: Why the Truth Is Getting Lost’

His Grace Bishop Angaelos
General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom

Nina Shea
Director of the Center for Religious Freedom and Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute

Betsy Hiel
Cairo-based Foreign Correspondent for the Pittsburgh Tribune

Tom Holland
Award-winning Historian

Moderator TBC

Is it good enough for media editors to say, ‘I have no knowledge of history or religion’ – and expect to do justice to the biggest story around, the failing Arab Spring? Can better foreign policy emerge if the story’s told better?

TIME: 7 – 8.30pm, Thursday 19th September 2013

VENUE: David Lloyd George Room, National Liberal Club, Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2HE


To attend please RSVP to: rsvpevents@lapidomedia.com

Within the space of 24 hours, on 14th August in Egypt, fifty-two churches and at least forty church schools, Christian-run orphanages, clergy vehicles, Bible Society bookshops and even a Christian-owned tourist cruise ship had been destroyed following the break-up by Egypt’s interim regime of Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins in  the capital Cairo. Sky News reported this in terms of ‘understandable’ revenge. The Sunday Times did not report it at all the following Sunday. The New York Times said the destruction was ‘unverifiable’. In Syria, countless casual references by journalists to assassinations, abductions and rapes of minorities betray a surprising level of ignorance about an ancient civilization and patterns of persecution in a region where the idea of the nation state is under attack.

Why are journalists missing this catastrophe? Is it possible for western media, imbued with a tit-for-tat adversarial model of political reportage, to cover at all the complexities of the Middle East with its unique history, its pre-Islamic minorities, and its cross-cutting religious solidarities? Is it good enough for editors to say, ‘I have no knowledge of history or religion’ – and expect to do justice to the story? And can better foreign policy emerge if the story’s told better?

The Henry Jackson Society and Lapido Media are pleased to invite you to attend an event with a distinguished panel of journalists, analysts and historians looking at the complexities of reporting the failed Arab ‘Spring’ and the challenges of telling it how it is.


His Grace Bishop Angaelos is General Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Church in the United Kingdom, the ancient church of Egypt that is the largest Christian denomination in the Middle East today. His Grace was born in Cairo, Egypt and emigrated with his family to Australia; he spent his childhood and early life there, obtained his Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Political Science, Philosophy and Sociology, and went on to postgraduate studies in law whilst working in the same field. He returned to Egypt in 1990 to join the monastery of Saint Bishoy in Wadi-El-Natroun where he was subsequently consecrated a monk by His Holiness Pope Shenouda III and served as Papal secretary to His Holiness until 1995, when he was delegated by His Holiness to serve as a parish priest in the United Kingdom. His Grace is a member of a number of consultation groups and think-tanks that directly input into matters related to Christians of the Middle East, and the life of the Christian Church in the United Kingdom.


Nina Shea, an international human-rights lawyer for thirty years, joined the Hudson Institute as a senior fellow in November 2006, where she directs the Center for Religious Freedom. For the ten years prior to joining Hudson, Shea worked at Freedom House, where she directed the Center for Religious Freedom, an entity which she had helped found in 1986. From 1999 to 2012, as an appointee of the US House of Representatives, Shea served as a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. She has been appointed as a U.S. delegate to the United Nation’s main human rights body by both Republican and Democratic administrations.

For seven years ending in 2005, she helped organize and lead a coalition of religious groups that worked to end a religious war in southern Sudan; in 2004 and 2005, she helped advise in the drafting of the Iraqi constitution’s religious freedom provision; and, since 2005, she has authored and edited four widely-acclaimed reports analyzing educational texts of the government of Saudi Arabia that teach intolerance and violence against the religious other.

She regularly presents testimony before Congress, delivers public lectures, organizes briefings and conferences, and writes frequently on religious freedom issues on National Review Online and Huffington Post, and in the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and many other outlets. She is co-author of the book Silenced: How Apostasy& Blasphemy Codes Are Choking Freedom Worldwide whose Foreword was authored by former Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid. She is also the co-author of the new book, Persecuted.


Betsy Hiel has been the Pittsburgh Tribune's foreign correspondent since April 2000. Based in Cairo, she has reported from Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Greece, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Oman, the Palestinian territories, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, and she covered the 2004 Summer Games in Athens and the 2006 Winter Games in Turin.

Ms Hiel extensively covered the 2011 revolutions of the Arab world and their aftermath, particularly in Egypt and in neighbouring Libya. She spent time in Afghanistan on a combat outpost near Pakistan in 2009. She covered the 2003 war in Iraq and continued to report from there in 2003-2010, including a series on mass graves. She covered the war between Israel and Hizbullah in 2006. She also reported on Israeli-Palestinian clashes that became the Intifada in 2000-01. She has written extensively about Arabs and Muslims in America; a series of her articles about Arab-Americans is included in the Smithsonian Institution's Naff Arab-American Collection at the Museum of American History.

She received a bachelor's degree in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Minnesota, a master's in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and has studied at the American University in Cairo and in Jerusalem. She is author of the chapter: Clothes, Camaraderie, and Qat in Encounters with the Middle East, Solas House, 2007. She is co-author of the book, The Islamic Revival Since 1988: A Critical Survey and Annotated Bibliography, and was a contributor to the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. She is fluent in written and spoken Arabic.

Her reporting on the Middle East won the national 2000 Edward Weintal Award for Diplomatic Reporting from Georgetown University, and she has been a Pew Fellow in International Journalism. In 2009, she was a finalist for the Medill Courage Medal for reporting on Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. She also has won awards from the national Clarion Awards, the nation-wide Inland Press Association, Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors; the Pennsylvania Society and Ohio Society of Professional Journalists; the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association-Keystone Press, the Quill awards and the United Muslim Association of Toledo and Toledo Chapter of American Muslim Alliance. 


Tom Holland is the presenter of BBC Radio 4’s Making History. An award-winning historian, his most recent book, In the Shadow of the Sword has received wide critical acclaim, and was the subject of a Channel 4 documentary, The Untold Story. It is set at the time of the collapse of Roman hegemony, and the emergence of Islam as a global force.  He will argue that the Middle East is showing signs of reverting to its ancient pre-Western imperial outlines and that journalists need a longer view to report with any accuracy the fast-moving collapse of the Arab Spring.   He is also the author of three other highly praised works of history. The first, Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic, won the Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History and was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. His book on the Graeco-Persian wars, Persian Fire: The First World Empire and the Battle for the West, won the Anglo-Hellenic League’s Runciman Award in 2006. He served two years as the Chair of the Society of Authors and is currently on the committee of the Classical Association. His translation of Herodotus’ The Histories will be published on the day of this event.


To attend please RSVP to: rsvpevents@lapidomedia.com


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