On Monday 3rd May the Australian Intercultural Society (AIS) and the Deakin University partnered for the 10th Iftar Dinner at Deakin University’s Downtown Campus. The evening was well attended by the university staff, the student body, Muslim community representatives and friends from the AIS.
AIS Advisory Board member and Director of the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation, Professor Fethi Mansouri, MC’ed the event. Professor Mansouri opened the program by highlighting the valued partnership between AIS & Deakin and sharing a few words about Ramadan.
Next to speak was Deakin University’s Vice Chancellor Professor Iain Martin, who began by praising AIS in “establishing and promoting intercultural dialogue, social harmony and cohesion in Australia’s exceedingly diverse multicultural communities”. Professor Martin was drawn to reflect on the word ‘Intercultural’ and how the intersections of different cultures can be society’s greatest strength and also result in some of the greatest human failures.
The highlight of the evening was a panel discussion on the ‘notion of giving’ across the different Abrahamic perspectives featuring panelists Rabbi Gabi Kaltmann of the Ark Center, Former CEO of World Vision Rev Tim Costello and Moroccan Soup Bar founder & co-founder of Humanisims at Engenda Inc, Ms Hana Assafiri OAM. The panelist reflected from a personal and interfaith perceptive on how they saw and experienced some of the structural inequalities and challenges exposed by Covid-19 and shared how they responded. Rabbi Gabbi shared an inspiration story of how during the first lockdown his community with great enthusiasm came together to provide free restaurant quality meals not just for the Jewish community but for all Victorians. While Hana emphasised that it’s just not material things but the importance of compassion and support to those who are struggling. The key message of the panel reminded us that we are interdependent and we have ability and duty to help one another.
The evening concluded with powerful spoken word poetry from Ms Zaynab Farah and vote of thanks by Australian Intercultural Society’s Executive Director Ahmet Keskin.