Peace & Dialogue Iftar Dinner 2015

Peace & Dialogue Dinner 2015


Queensland Intercultural Society (QIS) hosted its 8th Annual Peace & Dialogue Iftar Dinner at the Queensland Parliament House. Like every year the increasing diversity and multiculturalism present in the room brought another level to unity simply over the breaking of the Fast.


The program began with a warm welcome from MC for the evening and Queensland based correspondent for SBS news, Stefan Armbruster who greeted guests with the Islamic salutation ‘As-salamun Alaykum’ (peace be upon you) and the Australian salutation ‘G’day Mate’. Armbruster explained the importance of Ramadan to the Muslim Community which was followed by the call to prayer by Imam Ahmad Abu Ghazelah, inviting guests to begin their iftar (break the fast).


The honorable Shanon Fentiman, co-host, MP, Minister for communities, women, youth, Minister for Child Safety and Minister for Multicultural Affairs was invited to take the stage whom also greeted guests with the Islamic salutation ‘As-Salamun Alaykum’ and expressed her appreciation for having the opportunity to celebrate the month of Ramadan and having iftar together. ‘I’m excited by the opportunity we are afforded tonight, to strengthen our inclusive and harmonious society and to emphasise that a multicultural Queensland is about all Queenslanders.’ Fetiman continued by acknowledging QIS ‘for the work they do, to build bridges through dialogue, education and services and this includes their support for and promotion of multiculturalism to the broader Queensland community. Their dedicated commitment has served our multicultural communities well.’


Armbruster welcomed co-host and MP, Shadow Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Multicultural affairs, Tania Smith. She began by welcoming special guests and thanking QIS for being ‘a valuable organization which has been a large influence on Queensland social landscape. They have advocated for interfaith dialogue, shared education and core values of humanity.’ The MP expressed her wish to ‘ensure that all people of all faiths and cultures come to Queensland and participate in making this state a great place to live and through their skills, education, hard work no matter what their background no matter what their ethnicity is we’re diverse we’re open and we’re tolerant.’ Following Tania Smith’s speech, Executive Director of QIS and Host Abdul Celil Gelim was invited to the stage.


Mr. Gelim extended his thanks to guests for attending and reminded them of the significance they bring to such nights, ‘this is one of the most special dinners in the whole month of Ramadan.’ Mr. Gelim took the opportunity to explain the increasing importance of Ramadan not just to the Muslim community but to those all around the world. ‘It is pleasing to witness that Ramadan is becoming a month for everyone, a month where all friendships are strengthened and also new friendships are made, coming together here at one table is a situation of richness.’ Mr. Gelim also gave an insight on the meaning of iftar, ‘a means to unite across religious, national and ethnic boundaries. Tonight’s union demonstrates that in society people can come together and live together regardless of faith, ethnicity or dissimilar worldviews. Tonight is a celebration of diversity. Mr. Gelim invited other Muslim communities to open their homes to their neighbors and the wider community ‘to understand each other and establish a better society in Australia.’ Following Mr. Gelim’s speech was keynote speaker and Associate Professor Mohamad Abdalla Founding Director of Griffith Islamic Research Unit and Director of National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies.


Professor Abdalla began his keynote presentation ‘in the name of God the most gracious, the most merciful’. He touched on unfortunate world events, ‘the multiple terrorist attacks since September 11 2001 revived the prejudices against Islam as a religion that promotes violence and that Muslims are inherently militant and irrational people’. Professor Abdallah continued to explain the stereotypes and prejudices that come with such destructive events and the imperative need to ‘engage in dialogue and understanding to counter such depictions not only of Islam but indeed the stereotypes and negative depictions about the west.’ He assured guests that they are the people helping diminish marginalization and prejudice in the Australian Community. Following Professor Abdalla’s keynote presentation came the awards ceremony.


The Awards Ceremony was followed by Floor Reflections from Senator Claire Moore, Ross Barnett, Deputy Commissioner of specialist operations for QPS, Nance Haxton ABC radio correspondent and Father Dimitri. The night concluded with a Vote of Thanks from the Honorary John Mickel.


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 […]