On Wednesday 7 June 2017, Australian Intercultural Society co-hosted it’s 3rd bi-annual Iftar dinner with Australian Catholic University.
Master of Ceremonies, Professor David Sim, Associate Dean of Research from the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy invited Associate Vice-Chancellor, Dr John Ballard to offer the official welcome to ACU. Dr Ballard stated that the university was privileged to be the venue and participate in this coming together with people of different faiths, diplomatic and civic leaders, gathered at the St. Patrick’s Campus.
The evening began with a recitation from the Qur’an, Grace and call to prayer. To mark this year’s importance as the year of the repatriation of the Mungo Man, acknowledgement of Country by Mr Linc Yow Yeh, Coordinator, Indigenous Higher Education Unit, was followed by a special address and interfaith prayer by Professor James Bowler, the geologist who first discovered the Mungo Man. Professor Bowler spoke about indigenous spirituality and connection to land in the context of the discovery of Mungo Man and the significance of the repatriation to his traditional lands.
This year the dinner included a panel discussion addressing the theme of “Faith and Religiosity in Secular Multicultural Societies”. The star studded speakers on the panel included one of the world’s top scholars in the sociology of religion, Professor José Casanova who is Professor at the Department of Sociology at Georgetown University and head of the Berkley Centre’s Program on Globalization, Religion and the Secular; and Professor Fethi Mansouri, Director of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University Melbourne. Both panel speakers provided valuable insights into some of the c hallenges and issues faced by contemporary secular societies which was expertly moderated by Ms Alex Fein, community activist, writer and businesswoman.
Following the conversation panel, Ms Dilara Ilhan, a year twelve student from Sirius College, presented a spectacularly prepared and moving poem, she wrote for her Melbourne classmate, killed in a terrorist bombing overseas in May.
The evening concluded with Mr Ahmet Keskin, Executive Director of AIS, offering the Vote of Thanks and expressing his appreciation for the strong relationship built between ACU and AIS in pursuit of promoting multiculturalism and fostering intercultural and interfaith dialogue among all.