Connecticut chapter of Peace Islands Institute promotes peace by bringing people together

(Arnold Gold-New Haven Register) Mehmet Erdogdu, Director of the Connecticut chapter of the Peace Islands Institute, is photographed in the New Haven office on 3/10/2015.
(Arnold Gold-New Haven Register) Mehmet Erdogdu, Director of the Connecticut chapter of the Peace Islands Institute, is photographed in the New Haven office on 3/10/2015.


Date posted: March 16, 2015

ED STANNARD

In his office at Church and Elm streets, Mehmet Erdogdu is working on bringing people of differing background and views closer together.

Erdogdu is director of the Connecticut chapter of Peace Islands Institute, an organization founded “to facilitate a forum of mutual respect and collaboration, both welcoming and accepting varied viewpoints and voices,” according to its mission statement.

But the institute is not just working toward an abstract goal of “having charity for everyone in our heart,” as Erdogdu says. It is bringing together people of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths — and those of no faith at all —to talk about ways to foster understanding and to honor those who do.

Its upcoming fifth annual Friendship Dinner on March 26 will feature Daniel Esty of Yale University, a professor of environmental studies who served as state commissioner of environmental protection, as guest speaker.

“This is our signature event of the year,” said Erdogdu, a Turkish-American Muslim. “We invite community leaders, political leaders … clergy people from different interfaith groups … people from all walks of life.”

“We always look for society’s problems and solutions to that,” said Erdogdu. “So the environment is a very important part for the world and human being and we need to take care of it and be aware how we are behaving” toward our world.

Before that, on March 24, the institute will bring together Mahmoud M. Ayoub of Hartford Seminary and Neset Ulusal of Quinnipiac University to discuss “Muslim Voices Against Extremism” at Quinnipiac. The institute, one of five branches in five states, also plans a law enforcement appreciation dinner on May 28.

Peace Islands Institutes bases its philosophy on the teachings of a Turkish Muslim, Fethullah Gulen, an “education activist and peace advocate,” according to Erdogdu. “After the 9/11 attacks, he was the first Muslim scholar condemning the attacks. He’s a moderate Muslim and he’s known for his dialogue and tolerance.”

The Connecticut chapter, founded 1½ years ago, is based on the ninth floor of the First Niagara Bank building at 195 Church St., where it promotes “peace, understanding and dialogue through society by bringing people together from different backgrounds, different faiths,” Erdogdu said.

The institute does this through its five centers: global affairs, social affairs, interfaith affairs, education and media.

An important part of the Center for Interfaith Affairs is the institute’s “Abraham’s Table,” which has sponsored events such as a discussion of how different faith traditions understand peace.

“We’re seeing a lot of negative things in the news,” Erdogdu said. “We believe that with the Peace Islands Institute’s work we can educate people and raise the culture of living together or coexistence. These are really solutions to the biggest problems of society, so that’s what motivates me.

“We are a nonprofit, small organization but we are doing really important work,” he said.

Much of the work involves breaking down stereotypes, which is why Abraham’s Table is so vital. And the group has established a Global Leaders Forum for high school students. While fewer than 10 students signed up last year, “our aim is 40 to 50 students … to raise our kids as global leaders in the New Haven County schools to give these values to our youth,” Erdogdu said.

But is Peace Islands Institute providing a voice that can be heard above the din of disunity? “I believe that, yes, we are being effective. We had really good turnout at [last year’s] Friendship Dinner.” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and Attorney General George Jepsen have attended.

Misunderstanding is “like a tree with branches,” Erdogdu said. “It’s because of disunity our kids don’t know about others’ culture.”

Rabbi Herbert Brockman of Congregation Mishkan Israel in Hamden Israel is a member of the Connecticut chapter’s board and said his congregation has taken part in Peace Islands Institute’s interfaith efforts.

“They’ve had conversations with Christians, Jews and Muslims … One year, we did fasting in our different traditions,” Brockman said.

“They’re a good symbol of the Muslim community that’s trying to make an impact in terms of interfaith and peace … and helping people to learn about Islam.”

Brockman said that recently the Turkish government has become more right wing and that Gulen, the philosophical leader of the PII movement, has come under criticism. In fact, the institute issued a report about freedom of the press in Turkey in 2014, criticizing the government of Erdogdu’s native country for muzzling the media.

The Rev. Anthony Ciorra of Sacred Heart University in Fairfield said he’s been involved with Peace Islands Institute for 10 years, before the Connecticut chapter was founded. He is assistant vice president for mission and Catholic identity at SHU.

“My experience of Peace Islands is they do exactly what they say in terms of who they are,” Ciorra said. “Their work is one in which they create relationships. … What they do is bring together people of various religious traditions … to have conversations with one another to begin to take down walls that might separate us.”

Source: New Haven Register , MArch 14, 2015


Related News

Message to the conservative intellect on the Armenian issue

Even the thought of an Ottoman massacre, lead them to a knee jerk reaction, as it contradicts with everything the conservative intellect is built upon. Although they believe that they’re defending their identity and history, just on contrary they’re defending a minority, which fought with this history and identity. So the conservative intellect better think about the fundamentals of the issue.

Kenneth Hunter on Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet Movement

Kenneth Hunter is the Principal of the Prosser Career Academy High School. He studied theology at Chicago Loyola University and taught world religions in high schools. He served as the chairperson of Illinois State Board of Education Language Arts Assessment Advisory Council (2002-2012). He is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Chicago.

Former US Ambassador David Newton praises Gülen

A former US ambassador has said he wishes Turkish intellectual Fethullah Gülen’s ideas will spread to the Arab world. David Newton, former US ambassador to Iraq and Yemen, said last week at an iftar (fast-breaking dinner) hosted by Maryland Turkish-American Inhabitants (MARTI), a non-profit organization established in December 2003, that “the mother of all values […]

The Gulen Movement: A Paradigm for the Engagement of Faith and Modernity

In the midst of this time of crisis and opportunity, my question tonight is this: What is the future of religion in the new world order that is painfully emerging in our times?  How can religion support—and constructively critique—this new international order? I personally believe, very deeply, that God is raising up leaders in every […]

Terrorist investigation against Kimse Yok Mu draws strong reactions

A shocking investigation being conducted by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office against prominent charity organization Kimse Yok Mu on charges of terrorism has been met with strong reactions from experts, who question how a charity can be accused of terrorism for delivering aid to those in need.

Rumi Forum Fellowship Program 2015

Rumi Forum is inviting PhD candidates and those who have recently completed there doctorates in social sciences for a study fellowship that incorporates a trip to Turkey with the mission of exploring social, economic, cultural, security and political issues in Turkey and the wider region during 2015.

Latest News

Fethullah Gülen’s Condolence Message for South African Human Rights Defender Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Hizmet Movement Declares Core Values with Unified Voice

Ankara systematically tortures supporters of Gülen movement, Kurds, Turkey Tribunal rapporteurs say

Erdogan possessed by Pharaoh, Herod, Hitler spirits?

Devious Use of International Organizations to Persecute Dissidents Abroad: The Erdogan Case

A “Controlled Coup”: Erdogan’s Contribution to the Autocrats’ Playbook

Why is Turkey’s Erdogan persecuting the Gulen movement?

Purge-victim man sent back to prison over Gulen links despite stage 4 cancer diagnosis

University refuses admission to woman jailed over Gülen links

In Case You Missed It

President Museveni supports Turkey’s reaching out to Africa

The Government Response to Turkey’s Coup Is an Affront to Democracy

African queen promises to give support to Turkish schools

Kerry: Turkish President’s Insinuation of US Role in Attempted Coup is ‘Harmful to Our Bilateral Relations’

Lawyer: Gülen will appeal court decision to cancel his green passport

Review of Dogan Koc’s Strategic Defamation of Fethullah Gulen: English vs. Turkish

Public ad budget unfairly allocated to pro-gov’t media

Copyright 2024 Hizmet News