Established in 1993 and based at Georgetown University, the Prince Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (PACMCU) is “dedicated to fostering a better understanding of Islam and Muslim-Christian Relations” by means of “teaching, symposia, international conferences, and briefings.”
PACMCU was named after a member of the Saudi Royal Family, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, a Wahhabist who donated $20 million for the Center’s construction. Lamenting that “since the 9/11 events the image of Islam has been tarnished in the West,” bin Talal sought to establish an educational institution “to teach about the Islamic world to the United States.”
Prince Alaweed made headlines in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, when then-New York City mayor Rudolph Giuliani rejected his $10 million gift to the Twin Towers Fund for disaster relief because the Prince suggested that: (a) the attacks had occurred because “our Palestinian brethren continue to be slaughtered at the hands of Israelis while the world turns the other cheek”; and (b) future attacks could be avoided if only the U.S. would “re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stand toward the Palestinian cause.”
PACMCU’s Founding Director, Professor John Esposito, states that the Center seeks to build “bridges of understanding between the Muslim world and the West, addressing stereotypes of Islam and Muslims and issues and questions such as the clash of civilizations, and the compatibility of Islam and modern life — from democratization and pluralism to the status of women, minorities and human rights — and American foreign policy in the Muslim world.”
PACMCU offers a course of study that can lead to the attainment of an Undergraduate Certificate in “Muslim-Christian Relations.” This program’s objective is “to promote peaceful and productive Muslim-Christian relations through educating students who will be international leaders of the future.” To obtain the certificate, students must complete a total of 6 classes (18 or more credit hours).
The Center also offers a Master of Arts in “Liberal Studies: Islam and Muslim-Christian Relations.” This MA program was initiated in 1998. Candidates are required to complete 10 courses (a total of 30 credits) and a thesis.
In both the undergraduate and Master’s programs, the instruction reflects the worldview of Professor Esposito.
From 1999-2004, PACMCU hosted a five-year initiative known as Muslims in American Public Square.