The Canterbury Bankstown Harmony Group 11th Interfaith Dinner drew a crowd of more than 200 community and religious leaders and people of diverse faith and cultural backgrounds, all with a message of religious tolerance, unity and respect.

The Interfaith Dinner was held on Tuesday 18 July 2017 at Punchbowl Community Center with special guests, Hon Tony Burke MP and Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, Grand Mufti of Australia.

Muslims, Christian and others responded to the current atmosphere of heightened bigotry and pledged to work hand in hand together for respect and tolerance.

The speakers emphasised the role that religious leaders, politicians and community leaders can play in promoting unity and dialogue, stressing the importance of confronting intolerance and extremism in society, working to transfer facts, remove misconceptions about religious beliefs, enhance opportunities for cooperation between different cultures and respect for diverse cultures.

Pauline Gallagher, OAM and Ambassador of CB Harmony Group, opened the event by saying, “In every single one of us there is God, there is something holy and we must honour that in each other.”

The Hon Tony Burke, MP with Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed: The Grand Mufti of Australia.

During his keynote speech at the symposium, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed emphasised that cultural and religious values are an avenue for greater understanding among society and that Australia remains a pioneer in cultural harmony.

He further added, “Together we will overcome all calls for intolerance, racism, hatred and unity. We can also build a bright future for our generations and make Australia a leader in the industry of love and peace.”

Federal Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism, Hon Tony Burke emphasised Australia’s enjoyment of the benefits of reconciliation and tolerance on race and religion, and respect for freedom of expression and belief are most important features of the multicultural Australian society.

The President of the CB Harmony Group, Karl Saleh closed the event, invoking the Australian value that guarantees rights for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

He stressed that tolerance, is a virtue and a supreme value, that helps to spread the culture of peace while rejecting hatred in our society and this is the most important aspects of all civilizations, cultures and religions.

He further added, “I believe that Australia’s values of diversity and multiculturalism give hope to Australian multicultural community, and makes them more resilient in dealing with the pressures of racism.”

Guests at the Interfaith Dinner includes:

  1. The Hon Tony Burke, MP. Shadow Federal Minister for Multicultural
  2. The Hon Jihad Dib, MP. Shadow NSW Minister for Education
  3. The Hon Sophie Cotsis, MP. Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism
  4. The Superintendent Dave Johnson, Campsie Local Commander
  5. Pauline Gallagher OAM. Ambassador of CB Harmony Group
  6. Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed: The Grand Mufti of Australia
  7. Rev. Graeme Watkins: Lakemba Uniting Church
  8. Rev. Heather Joyce Topp: Buddhist Council of NSW
  9. Rev Fr Louis Ferkh, Superior of St Charbel’s Mission in Sydney
  10. Sheikh Youssef Nabha:  Imam of the Al Rahman Mosque Kingsgrove.
  11. Rev. Dr Patric Mclnerney: Columban Mission Institute.
  12. Sheikh Shady Suleiman Imam & President of IMAM council and United Muslims of Australia (UMA)
  13. Mr Khaled Alameddine:  General Manager of LMA Lebanese Muslim Ass.
  14. Dr Zachariah Matthews:  Imam of Punchbowl Mosque.
  15. Sheikh Hassan Elsetohy:  Muslim Aid Australia
  16. Ashfaq Ahmad Chaudhary: IQRA Islamic Welfare Centre, Lakemba
  17. Sheikh Abdul Goni Chowdhury: Islamic Practice and Dawah Circle (IPDC) Lakemba
  18. Representative of United Muslim Women Association Inc.
  19. Representative of Islamic Women’s Welfare Association
  20. Principals and representatives from local schools