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

Amir Hussain on Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet Movement

Dr. Amir Hussain is a professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. He has written numerous scholarly articles, and his area of research is on the study of Islam, specifically contemporary Muslim societies in North America.

Mosque, cemevi to be built in same complex

İLYAS KOÇ, ANKARA In an effort to strengthen the bonds between the Alevi and Sunni communities in Turkey, a mosque and a cemevi — an Alevi house of worship — will be built in the same complex in Ankara, the head of the Alevi CEM Foundation, Professor İzzettin Doğan, said on Saturday. The construction will […]

Sierra Foundation’s Dialog and Friendship Dinner Brings Together Many in Reno

This year’s Dialog and Friendship Dinner by Sierra Foundation repeated its tradition of bringing together many around a dinner table in Northern Nevada. The dinner has become a platform for bringing together diverse set of guests around the table and starting dialog and friendship among different cultures, faiths and communities.

Corruption, Stigmatization, and Innocence

Unfortunately, the Hizmet Movement as one of the leading civilian movements contributing to intercultural dialogue and peace in the world has been labeled as one of the players to destabilize Turkey by the pro-government press too.

John Suthers on Fethullah Gulen and Hizmet (aka the Gulen Movement)

John Suthers is the Attorney General of Colorado since 2005. George W. Bush appointed him as United States Attorney for the District of Colorado in August 2001. He was awarded the Kelley-Wyman Award by the National Association of Attorneys General in 2012. He is also adjunct professor at the University of Denver School of Law. […]

‘The World is one family’: Students from around the world extend peace message at international culture festival

A fusion of cultures was seen at the fourteenth edition of the International Festival of Language and Culture (IFLC) that was held in India for the very first time.

Latest News

This notable Pocono resident has been living here in exile since 1999

Logistics companies seized over Gülen links sold in fast-track auction

That is Why the Turkish Government could Pay 1 Billion Euros

ECtHR rules Bulgaria violated rights of Turkish journalist who was deported despite seeking asylum

Fethullah Gülen’s Message of Condolences in the Wake of the Western European Floods

Pregnant woman kept in prison for 4 months over Gülen links despite regulations

Normalization of Abduction, Torture, and Death in Erdogan’s Turkey

Turkey’s Maarif Foundation illegally seized German-run school in Ethiopia, says manager

Failed 2016 coup was gov’t plot to purge Gülenists from state bodies, journalist claims

In Case You Missed It

Erzurum people call Minister Ala to apologize Gülen for his remarks

Kimse Yok Mu Receives “Outstanding Service Medal” in Somalia

So you say Fethullah Gülen is a terrorist?

Wealthy businessmen spent time with Kurdish poor and Syrian refugees during Eid al-Adha

Gülen: Democracy dealt yet another blow in Egypt

TUSKON says 2 businessmen threatened members with ‘blacklisting’

Rep. Andy Fleischmann named ” Statesman of the year” by Peace Advocacy Group

Copyright 2021 Hizmet News