April 2012, Issue 15

Dear Friend,

I hope you are well and had a good break over Easter. I am writing to report on what has been a busy and eventful springtime at the Dialogue Society.

I am pleased to say that the Dialogue Society ‘tree’ has acquired three further branches, in Bristol, Leicester and Northampton. All three have already been organising a number of dialogue events tailored to the needs of their local areas.

Meanwhile, the more established Leeds Branch, in partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University and Mevlana University, undertook the organisation of an academic workshop exploring the eminently topical issue of multiculturalism. The workshop was held in Konya in April, and is to be followed by a second workshop on the same theme in May, this time convened by our Birmingham branch and held in Istanbul. Proceedings of both workshops have been printed and published and are already available online.

Closer to home, the Success School has continued to bring young Londoners into contact with inspirational successful individuals in order to boost their confidence and encourage aspiration at a key point in their lives. In the run up to the mayoral election we were delighted to host candidate Siobhan Benita for a HardTALK interview with Krishnan Guru-Murthy. We have also been talking to the public, and to mayoral candidates, about why Londoners should vote, in our latest Street Dialogue.

We have reluctantly said goodbye to our eight Dialogue Studies MA students at the end of their ten-week placement. During their time with us they arranged some excellent local dialogue events in partnership with two community centres, as well as participating in training, visiting external organisations and helping Dialogue Society staff with events. We wish them all the best with the rest of the MA and in their future careers.

I hope that you will be able to join us soon at a Dialogue Society office near you. If you missed the Derby, London and Southampton discussions of our adviser Paul Weller’s new book, ‘European Muslims, Civility and Public Life’, there are still two launch events to come. Do get in touch if you would be interested in arranging a London Trip for any group who would enjoy a multicultural experience of the capital, or if you would like to join a group as an individual (email amir@dialoguesociety.org or fsleap@dialoguesociety.org).

Warmest Regards
Ozcan Keles
Executive Director
Dialogue Society

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Launch of Three New Branches

The Dialogue Society welcomes three new regional branches. In Leicester, Firat Batmaz, a computer science lecturer at Loughborough University and secretary of the Anatolia Cultural and Education Society, is leading a small, committed team of volunteers. The Bristol Branch, which has recently organised two women’s cultural dialogue events, is led by Shirali Kadyrov, a mathematics lecturer at Bristol University. The Director of the Northampton Branch is Selcuk Bassoy, a telecommunications consultant and the founder of an educational charity. Each of these branches already has a track record of organising successful dialogue events. Details of some of the events arranged to date can be found via the Events section of our website.


Manchester Branch Participate in Community Conversation on the Riots

06.03.2012 - The Dialogue Society, Manchester Branch, were pleased to be able to contribute to a community conversation in Manchester exploring the street violence in the city last August. The event was well-attended and a broad range of local people offered their perspectives on the underlying causes of the violence and possible ways forward. The event, organised by the Guardian, LSE and the Social Action and Research Foundation, was part of a series of events across the country trying to understand the riots. Dialogue Society representatives contributed their thoughts. They are engaged in their own ongoing efforts to contribute to understanding of the riots through discussion events and the collation of written reflections.

Other Events


European Muslims and Public Life: Perspectives on and From the Gülen Movement

European Muslims and Public Life: Perspectives on and From the Gülen Movement, 13.03.2012

13.03.2012 - The Birmingham Branch of the Dialogue Society was delighted to arrange the first of a series of launch events for a new book edited by Dialogue Society advisor Professor Paul Weller. The book comprises edited papers from a conference organised by the Dialogue Society in London in 2007. Professor Weller gave an overview of the book, entitled ‘European Muslims, Civility and Public Life: Perspectives on and From the Gülen Movement’. The book balances chapters by people within the movement of volunteers inspired by Fethullah Gülen with perspectives from outside. It explores the teachings which motivate the movement, the varied European contexts in which it operates and its practical and intellectual contributions. Dr Ian Williams of the Markfield Institute of Higher Education and Revd Canon David Wiseman offered their perspectives on the book and a diverse audience raised a range of interesting questions. This launch event was followed by similar events in London and Southampton, with different speakers joining Professor Weller to discuss the book and its subject matter. Further events are planned in Manchester and Birmingham.

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Academic Workshop: Debating Multiculturalism 1

Academic Workshop: Debating Multiculturalism 1, 16.04.2012

16.04.2012 - 22.04.2012 - This workshop, organised by the Dialogue Society Leeds Branch with Leeds Metropolitan University and Mevlana University, saw a group of twenty academics gather in Konya to address a question of acute contemporary relevance: should multiculturalism be jettisoned as a failure or defended as the path to a flourishing diversity? A series of panel discussions probed contemporary debates concerning multiculturalism, explored the meaning of ‘interculturalism’ and its strengths and weaknesses in practice, considered the relationship between multiculturalism and dialogue and examined Turkish perspectives on multiculturalism. The intense intellectual exchanges of the panel discussions were followed by more relaxed dialogue in the context of a series of cultural visits. The group explored the dramatic landscape and fascinating caves of Cappadocia before trying their hands at pottery at a traditional workshop and admiring a display of folk dancing at a primary school in Nigde. The group also spent an enjoyable evening with hosts in Nigde experiencing the fun and ceremony of a Henna night. The final day of the workshop included visits to the Rumi Museum and ancient Alaaddeen Mosque, lunch with the Mayor of Konya and an evening with local whirling dervishes.

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  • 24.03.2012 | Henna Night
  • 28.04.2012 | Kazakhstan Night
  • 27.04.2012 | Malaysia – Affirmative Action for the Majority?

    Making Dialogue Effective 2: Skills in Dialogue – Cultivating Effective Listening and Empathy

    Making Dialogue Effective 2: Skills in Dialogue – Cultivating Effective Listening and Empathy, 15.03.2012


  • 25.04.2012 | European Muslims and Public Life: Perspectives on and From the Gülen Movement
  • Community Co-ordinator Highlights

    International Women’s Day

    International Women’s Day, 10.04.2012

    10.04.2012 - During the weekend following International Women’s Day, East London Community Co-ordinator Tamer Yigit recruited a team of local women who made cakes and Noah’s Pudding for a celebration organised by Stella Creasy MP. The next day, local women volunteers from East London gathered in Islington to meet with Jennette Arnold, the chair of the GLA. She delivered an inspirational address on the importance of women’s roles in the community. The volunteers, who represented a number of cultural backgrounds, provided delicious refreshments and cakes.


    Roundtable with James Harrington: Wrestling with Free Speech, Religious Freedom, and Democracy in Turkey: The Political Trials and Times of Fethullah Gülen

    Roundtable with James Harrington: Wrestling with Free Speech, Religious Freedom, and Democracy in Turkey: The Political Trials and Times of Fethullah Gülen , 24.04.2012

    24.04.2012 - Professor James C Harrington visited the Dialogue Society to discuss his recent book with a select group of interested academics, journalists and representatives of NGOs. Professor Harrington, a human rights lawyer and director of the Texas Civil Rights Project, explained that he came to write the book after participating in an intercultural trip to Turkey and hearing about the trial of Fethullah Gülen, the Turkish religious teacher who has inspired an international movement of volunteers. The book considers how and why Gülen came to be prosecuted in a series of proceedings lasting from 2000 until a 2008 appeals court ruling in his favour. Professor Harrington commented on the range of disparate charges brought against Gülen, apparently to appeal to the support of different groups, and introduced the political context of the trial and the political changes contributing to the outcome. Roundtable guests posed a range of searching questions.

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    HardTALK – London Mayoral Elections: People or Politics?

    HardTALK – London Mayoral Elections: People or Politics?, 10.04.2012

    10.04.2012 - The Dialogue Society was delighted to host independent mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita for a HardTALK interview conducted by Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who joined us as soon as he had finished presenting the Channel 4 news. Siobhan, who has worked at the heart of Government as a civil servant for fifteen years, responded to searching questions on her experience of leadership and budget management, her priorities for London and her views on foreign affairs. A large and diverse audience then had the opportunity to ask their own questions, with topics including education and free schools and ‘the Big Society’. To hear what Siobhan and others have to say on why Londoners should vote in the mayoral elections, see our Street Dialogue on the topic.

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    Dialogue Studies MA Students Complete Their Placement at the Dialogue Society

    Dialogue Studies MA Students Complete Their Placement at the Dialogue Society, 30.03.2012

    30.03.2012 - Dialogue Society staff at the Head Office in London were sad to say goodbye to the first students of the Dialogue Studies MA at the end of their ten-week placement. March saw the students organise and run two highly successful community dialogue events. The four students working with the Rumi Mosque and Dialogue Centre in Edmonton arranged a knife crime awareness event, which brought together diverse local people and featured speeches from campaigner Hazel Nelson Williams, Nick de Bois MP and representatives of the local police. Meanwhile the other four students were busy organising a truly festive opening ceremony for the new Amity Educational Foundation community centre in Redbridge. They also managed to fit in a Mothers’ Day visit to a local care home with families from the community centre. The students also completed their programme of weekly training sessions with the Dialogue School, visited a range of external organisations and assisted Dialogue Society staff with events. The placement ended with a celebratory dinner at the Dialogue Society.

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    Success School – Week 5: with Serena Bradshaw, Performance Coach

    Success School – Week 5: with Serena Bradshaw, Performance Coach, 27.03.2012

    27.03.2012 - Serena Bradshaw of Goddard Consultants provided the second of our two skills-focused Success School sessions. In this highly interactive session participants were invited to consider their own skills and gifts and examine and challenge negative ways of thinking which can prevent people fulfilling their potential. Group discussion and activities formed the basis of this motivational crash course in positive thinking.

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    Success School – Week 4: with Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty

    Success School – Week 4: with Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty, 22.03.2012

    22.03.2012 - The Dialogue Society was delighted to welcome Shami Chakrabarti to share her story of success with the young participants of the Success School. She gave a lively and engaging account of the development of a career in which she has been able to make a difference on civil rights issues that matter deeply to her. She noted the influence of her thoughtful and supportive parents and explained how motherhood had given her the confidence to aim higher in her career. She emphasised the importance of obtaining a good education. Participants actively engaged with Shami’s story, asking a range of questions.

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    Success School, Week 3: with John Bird, Founder of The Big Issue

    Success School, Week 3: with John Bird, Founder of The Big Issue, 06.03.2012

    06.03.2012 - The Dialogue Society Success School, which aims to raise the aspirations of young Londoners, continued with a most inspiring and entertaining session with John Bird. The founder of the Big Issue, which is probably the world’s biggest social business, spoke with great energy and openness about the extreme poverty and instability of his early life, his involvement in crime in his youth and the time he spent in prison, and his pioneering work as a social entrepreneur. The Big Issue gives homeless people the means to help themselves through selling a magazine covering current affairs and entertainment. Success School participants very much enjoyed hearing John’s inspirational story and asking him questions.

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    Other Events

    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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