Comedian, artist and activist Azhar Usman will address the “Ways of Peace II: Non-Violence in the Islamic Traditions” conference on Saturday, in place of Minnesota U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison, who was forced to cancel as a result of Congressional duties.

Friends for a Non-Violent World and University of St. Thomas are presenting the conference in the auditorium of the university’s O’Shaugnessy Educational Center, 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.  Usman’s keynote is 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. It is co-sponsored by over 20 Twin Cities organizations and dozens of individuals.

Usman is the co-founder of the “Allah Made Me Funny—Official Muslim Comedy Tour.” He produced a documentary-concert film based on the tour, which was released in select U.S. movie theaters in late 2008.  Formally trained as an attorney, Azhar has been touring as a full-time standup comedian since 2004 and has performed in over 20 countries.
“Ways of Peace II: Non-Violence in the Islamic Traditions” will bring together Muslim scholars and activists, who will address misconceptions and increase understanding about Islam and Muslims. 

The keynote address, “The Political Climate Today,” will examine the role nonviolence is playing in the current uprisings in Middle East and Arab nations, and how it hooks up with geopolitical policies of the last 60 years.   

The morning panel addresses “Theology, philosophy and history of non-violence in Islam.”  After the keynote, the afternoon panel of activists address “Non-violence in action:  Muslim peacemaking on the ground.” 

The conference — the second in a series that is exploring nonviolence in various faith and secular traditions — is open to the public. Details about the conference and how to register can be found at  or (651) 917-0383.