Muriel Mirak-Weissbach is an Armenian-American who grew up in New England. She attended local public schools in Massachusetts before studying at Wellesley College, where she took a B.A. in English literature in 1965. At college, she developed an intense interest in Italian language and literature, and won a Fulbright scholarship to Italy in 1966. The scholarship was for one year, but she ended up staying in the country for 15 years, fascinated by its language, its people, and its rich cultural heritage. In 1971, she took a graduate degree in English literature at the University of Milan, and entered a teaching career at that university as well as the Bocconi University in Milan. Working and studying in Italy in the late 1960s and early 1970s brought her into contact with the political ferment that was sweeping the universities. She became active in international efforts towards economic and social reform, and, in 1980, left academic life to concentrate on politics.
As a journalist in the following years, she focused mainly on political, economic, and cultural developments in the Arab and Islamic world. She visited many countries of the region, and has presented papers to conferences and seminars on economic development policy and cultural dialogue, in Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Sudan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Malaysia, Yemen, and the Islamic Republic of Iran. Following the 1991 war against Iraq, she led a humanitarian aid effort (the Committee to Save the Children in Iraq), which involved collaboration with leading political figures in Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, and the United Nations over the subsequent ten years.
She worked with an American weekly for many years and published hundreds of articles
there as well as in other political and cultural journals, on topics related to development policy, the dialogue between Christianity and Islam, and political events in the Arab and Islamic world. Over the recent years, she has written articles on the Iranian nuclear energy program, including interviews with Iranian officials, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the Armenian-Turkish relationship. Since 2007, she has become a regular contributor to the online publication, www.globalresearch.ca
as well as a German magazine, Arab Forum
A life-long fascination with language and literature, especially Italian poetry, combined with her exposure to Arab culture, led her to look into the contribution of Islamic civilization (in Andalusia) to the Italian renaissance, in the works of Dante Alighieri, her favorite poet. Work she completed on the impact of Persian poetry in Germany, especially through the translations of Friedrich Rückert, provided the impetus for cultural activities together with a circle of poetry lovers (Dichterpflänzchen
) aimed at promoting a dialogue of cultures. Other historical-philological studies include work on the decipherment of Ancient Persian cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphics, as well as theoretical studies on the origin and nature of language..
In late 2009, she published a book in Germany, entitled Through the Wall of Fire, Armenia – Iraq – Palestine: From Wrath to Reconciliation,
(edition fischer, ISBN 978-3-89950-498-9), which is a reflection on her family history and how that shaped her humanitarian and political work in Iraq and Palestine. Currently, Mirak-Weissbach is collaborating with several political and cultural organizations in Germany engaged in dialogue aimed at reconciliation among peoples formerly in conflict. Chief among them is the Arab-Israeli dialogue and dialogue among Turks, Armenians, Kurds, and Germans.
She is married and lives in Germany with her husband.