​Speakers Biography


Ovide Bastien:

OVIDE BASTIEN is a professor of philosophy at Cégep de l’Abitibi-Témiscamingue and then later professor of economics at Dawson College where he co-founded North South Studies, which involves a one-month student field trip to Nicaragua every year. Experienced the brutal overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973 and subsequently published the following books, all available here: Chili: le coup divin (1974); Chile: Underside of an Economic Miracle (2014), My 9/11 Awakening to America’s Moral Crisis (2014), Love or Money: What Makes the World Go Round? (20115), and Cry of the Earth—Cry of the Poor (2016). Currently manages, on a volunteer basis, development projects in Nicaragua in collaboration with North South Studies and Casa-Pueblito.

Ashraf Fouad:

ASHARF FOUAD has a master degree in education from université de Montréal. Co-founder and president of ECHO. Co-founder and member of ECCD. Active member of the Arab and Muslim communities in Montreal. 

Joe Stork:

JOE STORK is the Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. In that capacity he supervises the research and reporting of field staff, represents the division in meetings with government officials, and responds to media inquiries and interview requests. His own current work focuses on violations of international human rights and humanitarian law by states and armed groups, particularly in Iraq and in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the rights crisis in Bahrain, and freedom of religion issues in Egypt.

Before joining Human Rights Watch in 1996, he co-founded the Middle East Research & Information Project (MERIP) and from 1971 to 1995 was the chief editor of Middle East Report, its bimonthly magazine. His articles also appeared in The Nation, the Middle East Journal, World Policy Journal, Index on Censorship, Le Monde Diplomatique, and the Oxford Companion to World Politics.

His books include Erased in a Moment: Suicide Bombing Attacks against Israeli Civilians (New York: Human Rights Watch, 2002), Routine Abuse, Routine Denial: Civil Rights and the Political Crisis in Bahrain (New York: Human Rights Watch, 1997), and Middle East Oil and the Energy Crisis(Monthly Review Press, 1974). He co-authored the introductory essay for Political Islam, a book he co-edited and which was published by the University of California Press in 1997.

Joe Stork served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Turkey, and has an MA degree in International Affairs/Middle East Studies from Columbia University. From 1999 to 2006 he served as chair of the Middle East Studies Association’s Committee on Academic Freedom. In 2006-2007, he was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM), in Leiden, the Netherlands.

Yaser Haddara:

YASER HADDARA is a member of the Board of Directors of the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy. Over the last two decades he has served in various capacities with community organizations, interfaith, charitable, and relief work, and activism for peace and support for democracy. He served briefly as a communications advisor in the Egyptian presidency prior to the military coup.

Dr. Mohamed Emlasry:

MOHAMAD ELMASRY is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications at the University of North Alabama. In 2009, Dr. Elmasry received his PhD in Mass Communication from the University of Iowa, where he was a Presidential Fellow. His PhD dissertation examined constraints on news production in Egypt. Dr. Elmasry held assistant professorships at Qatar University from 2009 – 2011, and at the American University in Cairo from 2011 – 2014. His research on Arab press systems and the sociology of news has appeared in reputable refereed publications, including the International Communication Gazette, the International Journal of Communication, the Journal of Middle East Media, the Journal of Arab and Muslim Media Research, and the Global Media Journal. Dr. Elmasry is also a political and media analyst, specializing on Egypt. He writes regularly for Al-Jazeera English and the Middle East Eye, and has also written for Religion Dispatches, Open Democracy, PULSE, The Immanent Frame, Jadaliyya, and Egypt Independent. He has appeared regularly on local and international television, radio, and internet news networks, including CNN, BBC World News, BBC World Service Radio Al-Jazeera English, Al-Jazeera America, Al-Jazeera Live Egypt, Huff Post Live, NTV (Turkey), WMNF Radio (Tampa, FL), ARD (German Public Television & Radio), A9 Television Istanbul, SVT (Swedish TV News), RTTV, CKUT (Montreal, Quebec), KPFA Radio (Berkeley, CA), WBAI Radio (New York, NY), and ABC News Australia Radio. 

Ahmed Abdelkader Elpannann:

AHMED ELPANNANN is a Project Manager, PMP, PhD in Electrical Engineering, Canadian activist, Born in Egypt. He is the vice-chair of Egyptian-Canadian Coalition for Democracy, a federal organization which defends human rights and democracy in Egypt. Member of several federal and provincial advocacy groups for promoting democracy and human rights, visible minorities’ integration, anti-discrimination, anti-radicalization and Islamophobia. A board member of the Canadian Muslim Forum (FMC-CMF) which is a Muslim community organization representing the collective and common interests of the Muslim community in Quebec. Was the president of Egyptian-Canadian Home Organization –ECHO, a Montreal-based organization that works closely with new immigrants and residents to help them integrate in Canada.

Peggy Mason:

PEGGY MASON is the President of the Rideau Institute, an independent, think tank focusing on research and advocacy in foreign, defence and national security policy. In that capacity she brings a progressive voice to issues ranging from the imperative of nuclear disarmament to the centrality of UN conflict resolution, appearing regularly in the blogosphere, in print media and on radio and television.

Her career highlights diplomatic and specialist expertise in the field of international peace and security, with a particular emphasis on the United Nations, where she served as Canada’s Ambassador for Disarmament from 1989 to 1995. Since 1996 Ms. Mason has been involved in many aspects of UN peacekeeping training, including the development of ground-breaking principles on the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration of former fighters, the reform of UN arms embargoes and the dramatic evolution of UN peacekeeping in the 21st century.

As a regular trainer and exercise developer (1995 -2014), she brought the UN political/diplomatic perspective to a range of UN, NATO and EU training exercises to help prepare military commanders for complex, multidisciplinary peace and crisis stabilization.

From 2002-2012 Peggy Mason was a Senior Fellow at The Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA) at Carleton University, where she lectured, participated in training for Iraqi and Kuwaiti diplomats and chaired the Advisory Board of the Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance (CCTC). Peggy Mason is active in many NGO’s including the Group of 78, World Federalist Movement – Canada, and the Pugwash Movement-Canada. A graduate and gold medallist of the University Of Ottawa Faculty Of Common Law, Peggy Mason was inducted into its Honour Society in September 2003.

Ehab El-Komy:

EHAB EL-KOMY An architect and city planner turned entrepreneur, Ehab is currently the managing director of a privately owned corporation based in Ottawa.

Born in Egypt, Ehab was exposed to politics at an early age when his father was imprisoned in 1965 for 10 years on a politically motivated charge. Ehab came to Canada in 1991 from London, England, and quickly became active in the Arab and Muslim communities in Winnipeg from 1991 to 2001, and Ottawa from 2001 to present.  He is known in both communities for his sermons and public speeches, as well decades of running unique youth programs.  Ehab is also a founding member of the Muslim Association of Canada and was a member of its first Board of Directors. 

Following the coup of 2013, Ehab dedicated his time to restoring the aspirations of the Egyptian revolution of Jan 25th 2011.  He is currently the Secretary General of the Egyptian Canadian Coalition of Democracy (ECCD), and is a member of its Board of Directors.

Finally, Ehab is a father of three children and currently resides in Ottawa, Canada.

Tarek Chatila:

TAREK CHATILA is a MENA specialist and writer for Amnesty Canada's Isr/OT/PA co-group. After leaving Beirut in the midst of the Lebanese Civil War, he moved to Montreal and gained his Master in Public Policy and Public Administration from Concordia University. Tarek was head researcher for the Social Media Monitoring Project on Syria at the Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies.

Mohamed Salah:

MOHAMED SALAH, obtain his degree in B.Sc. physics and Master of radiation physics from Alexandria University, Egypt, and a Master of physics and technology of nuclear reactors University of Birmingham, UK. Currently he is a researcher and Ph.D. Candidate Nuclear Engineering Royal Military of College of Canada. Mohamed is a Human rights actives, a Board member of Egyptian Revolutionary Council, ERC, and a Member of Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy, ECCD.

Dr. Nadia Abu-Zahra:

NADIA ABU-ZAHRA is Associate Professor of International Development and Global Studies and a member of the Human Rights Research and Education Centre at the University of Ottawa. She serves on the Reconciliation Committee of the Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and was an elected Director on the Federation’s Board from 2011 to 2015. Prior to joining the University of Ottawa, Dr. Abu-Zahra was a Research Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre, and a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of British Columbia. She researches and teaches on social movements, human rights, ethics, international development, and particularly mobility: immigration, refugees, family reunification, and community resilience. 

Samaa Elibyari:

SAMAA ELIBYARI, originally from Egypt, has been living in Montreal since 1973. Through the years she has been involved with the Arab and Muslim communities. She presented Caravan, a community radio program, broadcast on CKUT 90.3 FM in Montreal from 1999 to 2012. She has a genuine interest in international affairs and has been a strong defender of human and civil rights. Samaa is an active member of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women-Montreal Chapter and Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy.

Dr. Maha Azzam:

MAHA AZZAM has been advocating for democracy and human rights in the Middle East for over 25 years and is a leading policy expert on the Middle East and political Islam. She was a Fellow on the Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House (2002-2015), The Royal Institute for International Affairs. Previously, Azzam was Head of Programme on Security and Development in Muslim States, Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies.

She is an advisor on the MENA panel at the British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Azzam is a Patron of Social Change Through Education in the Middle East (SCEME). She is a board member of the Council For Arab British Understanding (CAABU- an NGO working on the Middle East in the British Parliament).
She was an advisor on the Transnational Threats Project, The Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Washington D.C. 

Azzam was Thought Leader for the World Economic Forum: Gulf 2025 project. She has given evidence on the Gulf at the Foreign Affairs Select Committee in the British Parliament. 

As an expert on Egypt and the Middle East she speaks on a regular basis at policy and academic fora and the media, for example, the annual meeting of NATO Parliamentarians, the Royal College of Defence Studies, the Weatherhead Center, Harvard University, The Center on Law and Security, NYU, The Aspen institute Congressional programme.

Azzam is 'Head of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council', a broad platform that promotes a civil and democratic state in Egypt. She is Chair of 'Egyptians for Democracy U.K'. 

Azzam was on the first Egyptian Delegation for Public Diplomacy in 2013 following the military coup in Egypt. She has been a leading proponent of bringing to international justice at the ICC, General Sisi and those responsible for the massacres in Egypt following the coup.

Azzam has actively campaigned publicly and behind the scenes, meeting with government officials, parliamentarians and policy makers over the last three years in order to explain to them the situation in Egypt and to try to bring pressure to bear on the current Egyptian regime. During 2015, Azzam met with officials in Congress, the White House, the House Appropriations Committee, and leading think tanks . In June 2014, she addressed the 28 Member States at the EU and met with leading officials. She has met with United Nations agencies and permanent missions in Geneva as well as with policy makers and parliamentarians in Brussels, Berlin, Vienna, Bern, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Madrid and Paris. She has engaged with officials and civil society in South Africa, Malaysia and Indonesia. 

Media: BBC, NPR, CNN, France 24 and Al-Jazeera English.

Azzam received her BA from the University of London and her Ph. D. from the University of Oxford.
Selected Writings: The Arab Spring and the Middle East Peace Process in 'After the Arab Spring': Prospects for the Arab World, UNA-UK, 2013; Egypt’s Military Council and the Transition to Democracy, Chatham House Briefing Paper, May 2012; Islamism: Extremists or Democrats in The Arab Spring: Implications for British Policy, Conservative Middle East Council (2011); The Centrality of Ideology in Counter-Terrorism Strategies in the Middle East, Praeger (2007); Some Local and Global Dimensions in the Radicalisation of Muslim Communities in Europe, Brown Journal (2007); Al-Qaeda-Five Years On, Chatham House (2006); Islamism Revisited, International Affairs (2006); Political Islam and the Ideology of Violence, Praeger (2006).

Haroon Siddiqui:

HAROON SIDDIQUI is Editorial Page Editor Emeritus of the Toronto Star, Canada's largest newspaper.

He has reported or supervised coverage of Canada for 48 years, and has intimate knowledge of the evolution of our public policy. He has written extensively on the Canadian model of pluralism and spoken about it in Canada and around the world.

He has also reported from nearly 50 countries, including covering the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the Iran-Iraq War, and the emergence of India as a global power, Turkey as a regional power and the United Arab Emirates and Qatar as soft powers.

Winner of numerous journalistic awards, he was awarded the Order of Canada “for advocating fairness and equality of opportunity” and also the Order of Ontario for “crafting a broader definition of the Canadian identity.”

In conferring an honorary doctorate, York University said he has helped in “the creation and sustaining of a contemporary Canada, in which individuals can truly recognize and speak to each other across their differences of religion, race and cultures.”

He is the author, among others, of Being Muslim (2008), a bestseller about post-9/11 politics, based on his travels across the U.S., Europe, Middle East, South Asia and the Far East.

He describes himself as “an incurably optimistic Canadian.”

Ehab Lotayef:

EHAB LOTAYEF is a founding member and the chairman of the Egyptian Canadian Coalition for Democracy.
He is a writer and a poet. An Electrical Engineer by profession, he moved to Montreal from Egypt in 1989.
Ehab has been a defender for human rights for decades.  A past VP of the Canadian Arab Federation and a founding member of the Canadian Boat to Gaza. Over the years Ehab was also active in various capacities in Voices of Conscience, opposing the sanctions and war against Iraq, the Canadian Muslim Forum, the Muslim Council of Montreal, the Muslim Community of Montreal and the Coalition for Justice and Peace in Palestine.
Ehab is an organizer with the International Freedom Flotilla Coalition and has been abroad boats which sailed to challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza in 2011 and 2015.
Ehab's poetry collection in Arabic and English, To Love a Palestinian Woman, was published by TSAR in 2010.