Mideast scholar Fouad Ajami dead at 68

Mon Jun 23, 2014 1:36am EDT

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(Reuters) - Fouad Ajami, a prolific writer who became one of the world's most prominent Middle East historians, died on Sunday aged 68, Stanford University said.

Ajami, a Shiite Muslim who was born in Lebanon and emigrated to the United States in 1963, died after battling cancer, said the university's Hoover Institution, where he was a senior fellow.

The author of some 400 essays on Arab and Islamic politics, U.S. foreign policy and contemporary international history, Ajami was credited with research that charted the road to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on U.S. targets, the Iraq war and the U.S. presence in the Arab-Islamic world, the statement said.

Ajami taught at Princeton and American University, and served as director of Middle East studies at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University for more than three decades.

A contributing editor for U.S. News and World Report and a board member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Ajami was also a familiar face on television news, including CNN, where he frequently discussed Middle East issues.

"He was a great intellect and was full of grace and compassion," said CNN anchor Anderson Cooper on Twitter. "He was a wonderful scholar and a lovely human being."

Among honors Ajami secured over the decades were the National Humanities Medal in 2006 and the MacArthur Fellows Award, which we won in 1982.

His books included "The Arab Predicament," "Beirut: City of Regrets," "The Dream Palace of the Arabs" and "The Foreigner's Gift."

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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Comments (3)
REnninga wrote:
For many years I have enjoyed Professor Ajami’s keen insights and perspectives about the socio-politics of the Middle East, as well as appreciated his kindness and always courteous approach with which he treated other guests whom he appeared with on the PBS News Hour and other national news programs.

Professor Ajami never allowed strong differences of opinion to affect his genteel demeanor. That goes beyond practiced skill, and speaks to a gentle character and a good heart.

Your contributions to our national dialog will be missed, Sir. Thank you, and rest in peace.

Jun 23, 2014 2:33am EDT  --  Report as abuse
R.I.P Mr Ajami. I have had the pleasure to have known you and have listened to you all these years, our conversations have always been nothing but a challenge to the mind. You were a wonderful man, you were proud of who you were, lebanese, american, human.
I am sure in a better place now.

Jun 23, 2014 7:24pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
adp3d wrote:
RIP Dr. Ajami…

Jun 24, 2014 1:08am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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