On Tuesday 29 May more than 300 guests gathered at NSW Parliament House to break bread in the spirit of harmony and diversity at Affinity Intercultural Foundation’s tenth annual Friendship and Dialogue Iftar dinner.
The gathering saw guests from diverse backgrounds in attendance, including members of Parliament, police, religious, community and education leaders, business people, members of the judiciary and media as well as representatives from other faiths.
In his keynote address, Chief Justice Tom Bathurst, seventeenth Chief Justice of New South Wales said the dinner contributed to building social cohesion and trust between different people.
“It is a wonderful thing that in this country, everyone is welcome to celebrate their religious traditions and we have the freedom to share those traditions with others. In doing so, we can strengthen the ties between our various communities,” he said.
“This is of particular importance in the current climate of increasing fear and distrust of people who are different to us. These gestures are important at a time when some voices in our society use their position to stoke mistrust rather than quell it.”
In his speech as co-host, Dr Geoff Lee MP, Member for Parramatta, called on everyone to contribute to a diverse society.
“We all have a role to play to ensure that we have a harmonious and peaceful society. We can’t let hate divide us,” he said.
Co-host Jihad Dib MP, Member for Lakemba, touched on how the Australian narrative has evolved to become more inclusive.
“Australia is built on the stories of two groups of people: First Nations and migrants. Individual stories weave to form modern Australia,” he said.
“Our 25 million stories are equally important. Everyone is important. Whoever thought that the Australian narrative isn’t for them – it is. We all contribute to the Australian narrative. That’s why it makes nights like tonight unique. Your story is the Australian story.”
Adhan and Quran recitations were provided by Bilal Kilic and Ibrahim Karaisli from Amity College.
Musical performances were provided by the Amity College Choir and Indigenous Australian didgeridoo player, Walangari Karntawara. Adam Sayadi, Amity College school captain provided a short speech.
The audience was transported to Konya with a special whirling dervishes showcase from the Naqshbandi Sufi and Anatolian Music groups.
Floor reflections were provided by representatives from Multicultural NSW, Royal Australian Navy, ABC and United Nations Association of Australia, NSW.
A vote of thanks was offered by Annabelle Bennett, President of the Anti-Discrimination Board NSW and concluding remarks were provided by Mary Crock, professor of Public Law at Sydney University and Affinity advisory board member.
This event was possible with the generous support from sponsors including: Suttons Homebush Honda, Multicultural NSW, UTS, Claxton Speakers International, Salex Ceilings Pty Ltd, Enex Test Lab, Pronovate, Ashurst, NAB, Trigger Media Productions, Sign Work, Hype Studios, Australasian Muslim Times AMUST, Desi Australia and Zaman Australia.