December 2011, Issue 13

Dear Friend,

I hope you are well and enjoying this festive season. I am writing with good tidings of a wide range of events and developments at the Dialogue Society over the past months.

Firstly, I am delighted to announce that Prof Bülent Gökay, Head of Keele University’s internationally renowned School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy, has joined our board of advisors. We thank him for his invaluable advice and help in recent years and look forward to his continued support. One of the projects on which we have worked with Prof Gökay, the Dialogue Studies MA launched by the Dialogue Society and Keele this year, is now in full swing with its first contingent of eight students. We look forward to welcoming them for their work placement in January.

Across the country, a wide range of Dialogue Society events have taken place. Community engagement events have ranged from Eid Al-Adha celebrations in Hull to a visit to a local care home by families in Bristol. Towards the academic end of the spectrum, our Durham and Birmingham branches have both launched their own “Making Dialogue Effective” series on the model of the panel discussion series held in London last year (highlights of the event can be found on the Dialogue Society Columns page). The initial discussions have brought a range of new insights to the question of how to enhance the effectiveness, or quality, of intercultural and other forms of dialogue.

Meanwhile, until the short days and cold weather intervened, Westminster Community Co-ordinator Amir Sabanovic was conducting regular, day-long intercultural London trips, which have been thoroughly enjoyed by a range of groups. Please see below for further information and get in touch if you would like to arrange a London trip. The trips will be recommencing in earnest in March.

In the New Year we look forward to the launch of the Dialogue Society Success School, which aims to raise the aspirations and increase the confidence of young people at a pivotal stage of their lives. The London Success School will begin in February and the project will also be running in Birmingham. In addition, Media and Communications Director Havva Murat is planning new and exciting forms of dialogue; watch this space!

On behalf of all the Dialogue Society staff and volunteers I wish our Christian friends a very merry Christmas, and wish you all a very happy 2012.

Warmest Regards
Ozcan Keles
Executive Director
Dialogue Society

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New Advisor

Prof Bülent Gökay joins the Dialogue Society

16.12.2011- The Dialogue Society is delighted to welcome Professor Bülent Gökay to the Dialogue Society Board of Advisors where he will continue to support and advise on Dialogue Society projects.

Bülent Gökay is Professor of International Relations and Head of the School of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy at Keele University, Chair of the Editorial Committee of the Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern Studies and Managing Editor of Global Faultlines (for his biography please click here). He has been supporting a number of Dialogue Society projects since 2008, the most recent being the Dialogue Studies Masters collaboratively launched in October 2011 by the Dialogue Society and Keele University.

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Events London

MA in Dialogue Studies Welcomes its First Intake of Students

19.11.2011 - We are very pleased to report that eight students have just completed their first term of the new MA programme in Dialogue Studies launched by Keele University and the Dialogue Society this year. In their first term they have taken two core modules: one giving an introduction to the philosophy of the social sciences and one exploring the UK context for intercultural dialogue and the application of dialogue in conflict situations. They have also chosen additional elective modules. We very much look forward to welcoming them to the Dialogue Society in late January for their 10-week work placement.

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Islington’s Second Annual Inter-faith Event

16.11.2011 - Dialogue Society staff were pleased to be able to attend Islington Council’s second annual interfaith event at the town hall. Following a warm welcome from Councillor Jean-Roger Kaseki and a few words from the Mayor of Islington, Councillor Phil Kelly, Sam Causton of Shoreditch Citizens gave a most interesting presentation about community organising and what can be achieved by persistent grass-roots action. The event continued with a speed dialogue session, allowing participants to quickly meet a range of other guests one-to-one and to discuss issues of faith and community cohesion. Our own Media and Communications Director, Havva Murat, gave a concluding speech exploring a range of inspirational perspectives on tolerance. The event provided an excellent opportunity to meet and speak with a range of local faith leaders and relevant Council staff in a relaxed and friendly environment.

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An Eid Reception with the Armed Forces

11.11.2011 - Dialogue Society staff were honoured to be invited to this year’s Armed Forces Eid-ul-Adha gathering held at RAF Northolt. The event, held in conjunction with the Armed Forces Muslim Association, invited friends and families to celebrate the religious festival and raise awareness of the Muslim faith in the Armed Forces. The principal guests invited included the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS), Head of the British Armed Forces General Sir David Richards KCB CBE DSO ADC Gen, who is the Patron of the Armed Forces Muslim Association, and Mr Alistair Burt MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. The reception and dinner was well attended and provided a great opportunity for the Armed Forces to promote cohesion in a spiritual and educational way.

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Civil Service Equality and Diversity Awards

04.11.2011 - Members of the Dialogue Society staff were delighted to be able to attend the Civil Service Equality and Diversity awards, celebrating the achievements of individuals and teams who have made notable contributions to equality and diversity in the Civil Service. Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, presented the awards. We were pleased to note that one of the short listed nominees for the “Understanding and Engaging with Communities” award was the 2011 Census Team; working with their Islington representatives to put on a local Census Awareness event last year we appreciated their dedication and sensitivity. We would like to congratulate them, as well as the winners of that category from the UK Border Agency’s New Asylum Model+ Quality and Learning Team and all the winners and nominees.

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London Community Co-ordinators

Dialogue Society London Trips: Intercultural Explorations of the Capital

20.11.2011 - Since the early Autumn, Dialogue Society Westminster Community Co-ordinator Amir Sabanovic has accompanied seven groups on intercultural explorations of London. Groups have visited from Leeds, Oxford and Brighton. London-based groups have included a group of South-London community leaders and a group of children. All the groups have very much enjoyed exploring the cultural and religious diversity and rich heritage of London together. Sites visited have included St Paul’s Cathedral, St Martin in the Fields Church, the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha, the Millenium Bridge and Tate Modern.
The London Trips programme will recommence in March. Future trips will incorporate further opportunities for interaction with hosts at a range of places of worship. The trips will continue to be tailored to the needs of each group. Please contact Amir Sabanovic ( for further information and to arrange trips. If you belong to a faith group and would like to visit London with a group of a different faith we can arrange this for you.

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Events - Durham

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Events - Leeds


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Events - Manchester

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Events - Birmingham


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Visit to the National Holocaust Centre

26.11.2011 - Dialogue Society Northampton Branch paid a visit to the National Holocaust Centre and home of the Aegis Trust, which campaigns against crimes against humanity and genocide. During the visit, participants had a chance to remember and condemn all sorts of genocidal atrocities, and to listen to survivors’ own experiences. While travelling back from the centre, the group enjoyed the opportunity to consider what they can do together to make Northamptonshire a better place in which to work, live and play.

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Multiculturalism Failure or Multiculturalism Backlash: Global Discourses, Local Realities?

25.11.2011 - In this panel discussion, a panel of insightful speakers from the University of Warwick and the Dialogue Society examined the various components of multiculturalism and discussed a selection of case studies from Britain and Continental Europe. The policies of political parties towards multiculturalism were discussed and were criticised for not achieving a sustainable pace during certain periods of the recent history. Finally, the panel drew the attention of the audience to the indispensability of inter-cultural dialogue, particularly in multicultural societies. The event was well-attended and the audience enjoyed the opportunity to ask questions and engage with the panel.

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Events - Southampton


Past Events:

Bristol Care Home Visit

23.11.2011 - As a part of their community service events, Dialogue Society staff and volunteers at Bristol, together with the Kazakh Society at the University of Bristol, organised a visit to one of the residential care homes in Clifton, Bristol on 23rd November. The group found the visit a very interesting experience and the residents of the care home were very happy to be visited by families with children.

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Noah’s Pudding for Bristol City Council

22.11.2011 - Bristol-based Dialogue Society representatives distributed Ashurah, also known as Noah's Pudding, to the councillors of Bristol City Council during the tea party at the Council meeting on 22nd November. The pudding, traditionally made by Anatolian Muslims at the festival of Ashurah and distributed among neighbours, represents the meal made by Prophet Noah for the inhabitants of the Ark from their last supplies when they reached dry land. The Dialogue Society has long promoted the sharing of the pudding as a means of promoting neighbourhood and community cohesion (see our new manual). More than seventy councillors, including the Right Honourable Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Geoffrey Gollop, enjoyed the Noah’s Pudding and thanked the Dialogue Society for its contribution to promoting harmonious diversity in Bristol.

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Muslim Inspired Social Activism: Some Snapshots from Britain

01.11.2011 - Marta Bolognani, a Senior Lecturer at Bristol University, addressed a diverse audience on the fascinating topic of the Muslim-inspired social activism. Her presentation explored the variety of local groups and national networks founded by Muslims in Britain and the wide range of missions and ideologies which they represent. She explained how Muslim-inspired social activism has evolved from the purely welfare-based activities of migrants associations to much more wide-ranging work undertaken by diverse groups.

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In this issue





Other news

Past & Forthcoming Events

Visit our Events page to see the number and range of work carried out by the Dialogue Society. Users can view the events in categorical or chronological order.

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Internship at the Dialogue Society

The Dialogue Society is currently offering volunteering placement opportunities for candidates from all backgrounds and interests. We provide a unique, dynamic and stimulating work experience where volunteers are encouraged to plan, build and deliver their own projects whilst contributing to other ongoing projects and tasks.

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Support the Dialogue Society

Regardless of your means and time, there are a number of ways you can support the Dialogue Society. Click below for some practical suggestions.

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Dialogue Society
402 Holloway Road,
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T   + 44 (0) 20 7619 0361

Dialogue Society - 402 Holloway Road, London, N7 6PZ. Ph: +(44) 20 7619 0361