For the first time; AIS worked with the Rotary Club of Central Melbourne-Sunrise to organise an iftar dinner on Tuesday; 15 July 2014. About 100 guests attended the dinner; which took place at the AIS head office on St Kilda Road.
The evening’s master of ceremonies was Andrew Crisp; assistant commissioner of the North West Metro Region. Welcome speeches were given by Roy Garrett; president of the Rotary Club of Central Melbourne-Sunrise; and Ahmet Polat; executive director of AIS.
Ali Gurdag; Victoria Police sergeant at Melbourne East Police Station; then gave the Muslim call to prayer (adhan); which signaled the end of the day’s fast. Assistant Commissioner Crisp also broke his fast at that time; having fasted during the day in solidarity with his Muslim colleagues.
After the dinner; Mustafa Kadioglu; a religion and values teacher at Sirius College; recited verses from ‘The Lord of Mercy’; the 55th chapter of the Quran. Omer Atilla Ergi; author and doctoral candidate at the Islamic Sciences and Research Academy; gave a speech explaining the significance of Ramadan. He used several stories to highlight how Muslims are able to cultivate their spirituality and sense of empathy by fasting and controlling their carnal impulses (nafs). “Hunger is the best way to tame the ego;” Ergi explained.
Between speeches; the Istanbul Culture and Arts Centre gave a traditional performance that included music and a sema ritual with a whirling dervish.
Dr Murray Verso; district governor of the Rotary Club; then gave a speech explaining the history of Rotary Club; emphasising its roots in service and friendship; as well as its significant contributions to the near-eradication of polio. He also revealed that contrary to popular belief; Rotarians do not have a secret handshake; rather; they are open to everyone and would like to continue to diversify their clubs.
Frank McGuire; MP for Broadmeadows; shared his reactions to the evening and also opened the door to future Ramadan iftar dinner collaborations. Several other guests also shared their reflections on the dinner; highlighting the spirit of fellowship at each table.
At the end of the evening; Dr Teresa De Fazio; commissioner at the Victorian Multicultural Commission; gave the vote of thanks. She had taken notes during each speaker’s remarks; allowing her to draw attention to the most important details of each one. Her speech was followed by concluding remarks from AIS President Ergun Kirmaci.
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