Pluralism; Multiculturalism Highlighted at Deakin University Iftar Dinner

The Deakin University Iftar Dinner took place at Deakin’s Melbourne Burwood Campus on Tuesday; 22 July 2014. Approximately 80 people attended the event; including students from the Australian Union of Jewish Students and the Islamic Society of Deakin University.

The evening’s MC was Professor Gary Smith; Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement) at Deakin University. He introduced every speaker; beginning with Omer Atilla Ergi; author and PhD candidate at the Islamic Sciences and Research Academy. Ergi gave the Muslim call to prayer (adhan) that signalled the end of the day’s fast. Later on; several verses from the Quran were recited by Hakan Coruh; theologian and PhD candidate in Quranic Studies at Australian Catholic University.

As guests enjoyed their meals; Professor Jane den Hollander; Vice-Chancellor of Deakin University; welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming to the iftar. She noted that this dinner was the third such event organised by Deakin University and AIS. “It is heartening to watch our partnership grow;” she said.

Professor den Hollander’s speech was followed by the evening’s keynote address; given by Alfred Deakin Professor Fethi Mansouri. He emphasised the reality of diversity within all groups; including Muslim ones. Citing the Quran (5:48); he said that had God willed; He could have made all people into one nation and one religion; but He chose not to. Instead; according to Mansouri; Islam underscores the contrast between the multiplicty of creation and the oneness of God. “Diversity is an inherent and undeniable part of human nature; so it must be embraced;” Mansouri explained.

The importance of multiculturalism and pluralism was echoed by Ahmet Polat; executive director of AIS; during the evening’s closing remarks. Polat said; “This is the message that we wish to spread: inclusive and peaceful coexistence.” He thanked everyone for attending the event and making an active contribution towards mutual respect; understanding and peace.

All photographs in this collection were taken by Deakin University photographer Simon Fox.

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