Where: House of Lords, London
Under the auspices of Lord Ahmed, the Dialogue Society organised an award ceremony at the House of Lords. The Dialogue Society took a major step in London last week to promote dialogue and understanding between different cultures. Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, the first Muslim peer of the House of Lords, hosted a dinner on behalf of the Dialogue Society in the Cholmondeley Room in the House of Lords last Thursday which was attended by many peers and the ministers of education and health.
Representatives of the society stated that their meeting with the peers was very important in terms of its timing as the head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, Mehmet Nuri Yilmaz, had just met Pope John Paul II in the Vatican in a bid to accelerate interfaith dialogue.
Speaking at the dinner, Minister of State for Education and Employment Baroness Blackstone underlined that she greatly appreciated the work of the Dialogue Society and supported its activities, as demonstrated by her presence at the occasion. Baroness Blackstone said intercultural dialogue was very important in a world which is integrating at an unprecedented speed. For peaceful co-existence and mutual understanding, the baroness stressed that such occasions were very significant. She then gave out prizes to successful students from Turkish colleges all over the world. Students from Romania, Georgia and Kazakhstan were present at the dinner.
The chairman of the Dialogue Society, told journalists that through such a meeting with peers they hoped to give a new impetus to their efforts in Britain which they see as a country that can be the hub of international efforts for improving intercultural dialogue. The chairman explains that they attached the utmost importance to creating occasions at which people of different cultures can meet and build lasting relations.
"We believe that dialogue, collaboration with all believers and the attempt to transcend doctrinal differences and live in peace is demanded of us by our faith and is the only means by which we may build a true civilization in which human dignity, justice and fellowship will be the norm. To this end, the Dialogue Society is a regular and active participant in the meetings of the Three Faiths Forum in Durham and Newcastle. Last March the Dialogue Society held discussions with the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, about our objectives and prospective joint activities. In Britain, the Dialogue Society, as an established organization, has met with Sidney L.Shipton, the Coordinator of the Three Faiths Forum, Professor Zaki Badawi, the Chief Rabbi of Brighton and the Bishop of Jarrow.''explained the chairman of the Dialogue Society.
We have to refute Huntington
Referring to Huntington's controversial article, "The Clash of Civilizations," in which he argued that different civilizations would clash in the post-Cold War era, the chairman said they did not believe in the validity of Huntington's arguments and invested a lot in the understanding of different religions and cultures rather than fighting or assimilating them. "For a peaceful and prosperous future for our children, we have to prove that Professor Huntington was wrong and peace and tolerance will prevail"stated the chairman.
Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, who hosted the dinner, said he was impressed by the schools opened all over the world by people who followed in the footsteps of Fethullah Gulen. "I really appreciate what these people do. It is a great contribution to world peace by paving the way for more understanding between different cultures. I think we should all support these sort of activities," said Lord Ahmed.