Zainab Al-Suwaij

Current Position: Executive Director, American Islamic Congress

Zainab Al-Suwaij is the Executive Director of the American Islamic Congress. Part of an established Iraqi religious family, Ms. Al-Suwaij was born in Basra, Iraq. While visiting Kuwait in 1990 she experienced Saddam Hussein's invasion, forcing her to return to Iraq. There, she participated in the failed 1991 Intifadah uprising against Hussein. After the Gulf War, she fled to the United States to complete her studies. She has worked as a refugee case manager and a teaching fellow in Arabic at Yale. Ms. Al-Suwaij has written a memoir of the 1991 uprising and several articles on Muslim-American women, the role of contradictions in the Muslim world, and inclusive American patriotism.

Sample Publications:
  • Al-Suwaij, Zainab. “Memories of a Free Iraq: The Fire Last Time.” The New Republic 3 February 2003. 10 February 2003.
  • Al-Suwaij, Zainab. “Dancing Inside The Circle.” Hartford Courant 5 July 2002.
  • Al-Suwaij, Zainab. “Accepting Contradictions as a means of Survival” Hartford Courant 17 March 2002.
Perspective on Conference Themes: The programs of the American Islamic Congress in Iraq have focused on pursuing human dignity through education and democracy training. Until Iraqi women know and understand their rights, they will never be empowered to fully participate in their society.