One of the most diverse cities in the world, Los Angeles is a unique base that will facilitate close collaboration with many varied community and faith-based organizations. “Los Angeles’ unique character is defined by a diversity of cultures and beliefs from around the world — and that diversity is our greatest source of strength," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. "UCLA’s Initiative on Security and Religious Freedom reflects those values with a commitment to religious freedom in its approach to overcoming our most difficult security challenges. I’m proud to welcome this innovative initiative to our city.”
Haroon Azar, a UCLA School of Law alumnus (2008), has accepted an academic appointment to lead the ISRF as program director and will join retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark as senior fellow at the Burkle Center. An internationally recognized national security expert who has worked for multiple administrations, Azar previously served at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security as deputy director for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia and regional director in Los Angeles. “This initiative will engage with nontraditional actors to help move the security conversation away from infringement and towards innovation,” Azar said.
“Haroon Azar is the perfect person to spearhead this new initiative,” Burkle Center Director Kal Raustiala said. “I could not think of a more opportune or important policy question for California and the nation than how to ensure that our communities remain secure while our citizens’ rights remain respected and protected.”
The ISRF is being met with enthusiastic support not only at UCLA but also within the UC system. The School of Law at UC Irvine will join the UCLA School of Law and offer seminars on national security and civil liberties taught by Mr. Azar. News about the initiative and its activities will be forthcoming in the next several months.