QLD Parliament House Iftar Dinner 2014


This year, Queensland Intercultural Society hosted its 7th Annual Parliament House Peace & Dialogue (QISP&D) Iftar Dinner with parliamentarian regular co-hosts The Hon Glen Elmes MP, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting the Premier, from the government and the Hon Desley Scott MP from the opposition. Held at the QLD Parliament House, the Iftar welcomed a diverse cross-section of Brisbane society.

The flagship program commenced with the traditional Islamic call to prayer (Adhan), followed by a recitation from the Holy Qur’an by Imam Ghazaleh. This paved the way for the breaking of the fast.

The co-hosts then gave their official welcomes. The Hon Glen Elmes MP, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural Affairs and Minister Assisting the Premier started the welcome proceedings by describing the meaning of Ramadan and underlining the importance of the month. He said “  “

The Hon Scott Desley highlighted the significance of having events like the QISP&D Iftar Dinner in the QLD Parliament, the epicenter of the state’s democracy.  He pointed out that such events show the tranquility of Australia’s cultural diversity and as a community “…how much more accepting of diversity we have become…”.  Scott added that just a simple invitation for an Iftar dinner to a Member of Parliament “reflects the cultural diversity of the state.” and concluded by accentuating the fact that we Australians “don’t celebrate our Multiculturalism as much as we should.”

Abdul Celil Gelim gave the final welcome of the night. He highlighted how Ramadan has become a month for everyone “now we have other Muslim and non-Muslim organisations hosting Iftar dinners throughout Australia”.  Touching upon the notion that the month of Ramadan is about sharing, he said “Ramadan is a time of sharing, a time when we gather around the table and share not only food but also good company, friendship and basic human values. We come together to share and we share already what brings us together.” He stressed we should “work together to remove prejudice, racism and bigotry & should sow the seeds of peace, compassion and respect. This is the path that QIS has taken and through its endeavor is inviting others around them to join them on this journey”. He concluded by reminding everyone that “we know people of good-will, will always unite for a common cause. They will rally to uphold the common values that bind us all together. The future well-being of our society is up to those of us in this room and beyond to promote the values of mutual respect, understanding and acceptance.”

Keynote Speaker Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane truly captivated the audience with an eloquent and thought-provoking keynote address. His address titled “The role of Human Rights in Combating Racism and Building Social Inclusion” explored some of the factors that unite us as Australians, the beauty of our diversity, the need to foster social cohesion and our duty to build the courage to face racism and other issues that still exist on our path to become a better and complete multicultural country. He remarked “If we are to understand human rights as being concerned with international law or with abstract philosophical principles, they may seem remote from everyday experience. Yet, for me, the work of human rights is simple. Indeed, even as they are embodied by law or philosophy, human rights have fundamental simplicity.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights gives us some guidance. To respect human rights is to believe: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.


Dr. Tom emphasized the concept of social cohesion and its relationship to human rights, particularly racial discrimination by saying “Differences are not intended to separate, to alienate. We are different precisely in order to realise our need of one another”. He added underlined the role of the Australian Human Rights Commission by stating “These notions of equality, participation and empowerment are values that underpin our work at the Australian Human Rights Commission, including anti-discrimination laws in respect of disability, age, social justice, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, race and gender.” Dr Tom said “Leadership matters when it concerns race and human rights. But we shouldn’t leave it to civil society alone. It is important that our commitment to harmony and tolerance is also expressed through our law.”

Dr. Tom concluded his speech “The task of fostering cultural dialogue and understanding is not easy. It requires humility, patience, and a humane spirit of cooperation. It is hard work, but it is important work, and I commend the leadership of organisations like the Queensland Intercultural Society. We should be grateful for the opportunity that you present us: to learn from the traditions of others, to reflect on how we understand our own traditions.”

(Keynote Speaker Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane full address published on Australian Human Right’s website: https://www.humanrights.gov.au/news/speeches/human-rights-and-cultural-learning )


Following the keynote, Istanbul Grove entertained Musical Performance on the stage.

Floor reflections were provided by Senator Mark Furner, (Senator for Queensland) Mr. Ian Stewart, (Commissioner of Queensland Police Service) Mr. Kevin Cocks, (Queensland Anti – Discrimination Commissioner) Ms. Yasmin Khan, (President of EIDFEST) and Mr. Steve Armitage, (Commissioner for Children and Young People and Child Guardian).

Program concluded by the Hon John Mickel, Retired Speaker of QLD Parliament House to giving the vote of thanks.

You could watch the QIS Peace and Dialogue Iftar Dinner 16/07/2014 program on our YouTube channel by clicking



This program was sponsored by; the UAE Red Crescent (Platinum) Supreme Islamic Council of Halal Meat in Australia Inc. (SICHMA) (Gold sponsor) Coca-Cola, Schweppes Australia and Sunshine Kebabs (Silver Sponsor)   Queensland Education & Cultural Foundation, Zaza Kebabs, Sunshine Kebabs Franchisee – Enoggera, Active Young Merchant Association, Arabesque Bazaar and Gold Coast Turkish Bread (Bronze)


Iftar Message from Hon Glen Elmes, Multicultural Minister

“I would like to extend, on this special special occasion, my greetings to all Muslims during the holy month of Ramadan. I was honoured to have been invited by the Queensland Intercultural Society to sponsor the first Newman Government’s Iftar Dinner at Parliament House and grateful for the opportunity to participate in the breaking of the daily fast. Queensland […]