Cornelis Hulsman

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Cornelis Hulsman
Cornelis Hulsman.jpg
Born July 27, 1955
Nationality Dutch

Director, Center for Intercultural Dialogue and Translation
Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Arab-West Report
Secretary-General of the Center for Arab-West Understanding

Secretary-General of the Foreign Press Association, Cairo
Spouse(s) Sawsan Gabra Ayoub Khalil

Cornelis Hulsman is a Dutch sociologist who has been living in Egypt since 1994. He is currently the editor in chief of the Arab-West Report. AWR includes a weekly digest of various Egyptian press outlets. Hulsman is further an expert on Egyptian printed media, the Coptic Orthodox Holy Family tradition, interfaith relations in Egyptian society, and inter-cultural understanding in the Arab world. Hulsman has been a correspondent for several Dutch media outlets in Egypt, and has been the Secretary-General of the Cairo Foreign Press Association since 2003.[1]


Hulsman was born in Apeldoorn, the Netherlands, in 1955, and studied development sociology at the State University of Leiden in the Netherlands from 1977-1984. During his studies he specialized during on Islam and Middle Eastern Christianity. From 1979 to 1982, Hulsman was a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Christian Democratic Youth Appeal (CDJA), and was from 1982-1994 a member of the Middle East Committee of the Christian Democratic Appeal (Dutch: Christen Democratisch Apel, CDA). From 1986 until 1994, Hulsman occupied several leading positions in the Dutch emigration service. In 1994, Hulsman became a correspondent for several Dutch media outlets in Egypt, and with his Egyptian wife Sawsan Gabra Ayoub Khalil, founded in 1997 the "Religious News Service from the Arab World". [2][3] From 1999-2001, at the request of the American University Press in Cairo, Hulsman carried out research on the Coptic Orthodox Holy Family tradition and compared this with earlier work carried out by Dr. Otto F.A. Meinardus in the 1950s and 1960s. Hulsman's work resulted in the chapter “Tracing the Route of the Holy Family Today,” in the book “Be Thou There; The Holy Family's Journey in Egypt,” AUC Press, 2001. Following this research and publication, numerous magazine and newspaper publications on aspects of the Holy Family tradition followed. Hulsman also organized tens of visits to locations related to this tradition, built a Web site about this tradition and has become one of the world's foremost experts on this ancient Coptic tradition.[4] In 2000 and 2001, Hulsman was the adjunct affiliate assistant professor in Journalism and Mass Communication at the American University in Cairo, and in 2002 organized a workshop for Egyptian journalists regarding reporting on human rights.[5] Hulsman decided devote his attention to developing an Egyptian institute for inter-cultural understanding, changed the name of the electronic digest RNSAW in 2003 to Arab-West Report. Following this, Hulsman initiated with a group of prominent Egyptians the "Center for Arab-West Understanding (CAWU)".  CAWU then applied for Egyptian Non-Government Organization (NGO) status, which was obtained following a long bureaucratic process in January 2008.[6] In 2004 Hulsman initiated the construction of an electronic library based on the reviews of Egyptian media and his own investigative reporting in the Religious News Service from the Arab World and Arab-West Report since 1997.[6] Because of the delays in forming an Egyptian NGO, in 2005 Hulsman and his wife founded the Center for Intercultural Dialogue and Translation (CIDT). CIDT has become the institute preparing media reviews and translations for Arab-West Report. In May 2006, Hulsman organized the visit of former Dutch Prime Minister Andreas van Agt to Egypt, who lectured at universities and institutions in Cairo about the need for Arab-West understanding and met with prominent government officials in which he expressed strong support for the initiative to create a Center for Arab-West Understanding.[7] Hulsman became in August 2007 the project director of the Electronic Network for Arab-West Understanding (ENAWU). ENAWU links organizations in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon with organizations in several European countries. This network was launched on June 5, 2008, by HRH Prince Hassan bin Talal. In March 2008 Hulsman coordinated efforts of the Center for Arab-West Understanding in a successful attempt to defuse the crises created by Dutch Member of Parliament Geert Wilders' film “Fitna,” through organizing a visit of a delegation of Dutch church representatives and Muslim organizations to Egypt which was widely reported about in the Netherlands, asking Egyptian scholars to write reports explaining the Qur'anic texts Wilders highlighted and discussing the crisis on Egyptian TV and in public meetings at Cairo University.[8]


Cornelis Hulsman believes that tensions between the Arab world and the West, as well as those between Muslims and Christians, should never be reported about in isolation but efforts must be made to understand tensions in their proper socio-economical and historical contexts. Only this will contribute to a better understanding between peoples of different cultures and will help to address problems various people(s) encountered. Media is able to play a prominent role in working toward intercultural understanding but they also can play a highly destructive role.[6][9] For this reason an effective media watch is greatly needed.[10]


Hulsman lectured on cultural diversity, media, Arab-West relations, Muslim-Christian relations in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Czech Republic, Spain, U.S., Jordan and Egypt.[11]


During his studies Hulsman was deeply influenced by former Dutch Consul-General to Saudi Arabia, Daniel van der Meulen (1894–1989) who stimulated Hulsman's interest in the Arab world and Muslim-Christian relations., Syrian Orthodox Bishop Samuel Aktash of the Tur Abdin in Turkey who showed him in the mid eighties the damage caused by oriental Christians leaving their homelands,[12] a theme repeated by HRH Prince Hassan bin-Talal in an interview with Hulsman for Christianity Today.[13][14] Dr. Otto F.A. Meinardus (1925–2005), Egyptian thinker Dr. William Qilada (1924–1999), and Athanasius, Metropolitan of Beni Suef (1923–2000)[15] influenced Hulsman's outlook on Coptic Christianity and traditions. Hulsman has in turn influenced hundreds of students, many of who have been interns at Arab-West Report and the Center for Intercultural Dialogue in Cairo.[16]

Selected Books & Reports[edit]

Cornelis Hulsman has published on a number of topics dealing with issues throughout the Arab world, Muslim-Christian relations, and Arab-West relations.[17] Below are listed a selection of Hulsman's material.

  • 'The Peace building Prince; One Jordanian leader shares his deep desire to preserve the Arab Christian world' in: Christianity Today, February 2008 [18]
  • 'Christian activists' contributions to Christian migration from the Arab world; can Christianity survive in the Arab world?' "AWR, 2007, week 51, art. 2". 


  1. ^ "Foreign Press Association – FPA". 
  2. ^ "Editor-in-Chief". 
  3. ^ "My own personal involvement with the RNSAW; A personal testimony". RNSAW, 2000, week 45, art. 1. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Mia Ulvgraven, Biography of Cornelis Hulsman". RNSAW, January 2007. 
  6. ^ a b c Mia Ulvgraven, Biography of Cornelis Hulsman, January 2007
  7. ^ "Cultures between Clash and Reconciliation: The Role of the Media and Academia; a lecture and discussion with Prof. Andreas van Agt at Cairo University". AWR, 2006, week 53, art. 2. 
  8. ^ "CAWU petition regarding Wilders". 
  9. ^ "My own personal involvement with the RNSAW; A personal testimony in RNSAW". RNSAW, 2000, week 45, art. 1. 
  10. ^ “To be an effective advocate for peace, media distortions must be addressed,” Quaderns de la Mediterrània, June 2007, translated and published in Arabic in al-Muntada (Jordan), issue no. 234, 2007, AWR, 2007, week 14, art. 2
  11. ^ "Cornelis Hulsman lectures". 
  12. ^ "Personal memories of Dr. William Qilada". RNSAW, 1999, week 38, 19. 
  13. ^ Cornelis Hulsman, “The Peace building Prince; One Jordanian leader shares his deep desire to preserve the Arab Christian world,” in: Christianity Today, February 2008
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Obituary of Dr Otto Meinardus". Arab-West Report, 2005, week 39, art. 38 and 39. 
  16. ^ RNSAW, 1999, week 38, art. 19, RNSAW, 1999, week 37, art. 30 and 31
  17. ^ "Selected reports from Arab-West Report". 
  18. ^ "ENAWU readings".