Turks in US Ditto: Dialogue

Ali Halit Aslan
Ali Halit Aslan

Date posted: November 12, 2005

Ali H. Aslan

The interfaith dialogue symposium organized by the Niagara Foundation, a Turkish community foundation in the United States, began on Thursday.

The Chicago Interfaith Gathering sponsored by several American academic institutions and non-governmental organizations met at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Chicago Archbishop Cardinal Francis George emphasized the importance of interfaith dialogue. The eminent Islamic scholar, Professor John Esposito, said the 9/11 caused the relationships between the Muslim world and the West to go back 20 years and to mend the relations will “take a generation” and it will be difficult. Islamophobia or Muslim enmity has become a threat as big as anti-Semitism in the world, he determined.

Ellen Bernstein from Hebrew College, William Johnson Everett from Newton Theological Seminary’, David Wellman from DePaul University and Safei-Eldin Hamed from Texas Tech University spoke at the panel titled ” Religion, Ecology, and the Quest for a Just Peace” held at DePaul University.

Scott Paeth chaired the session. As a part of the same activity, another session titled “Religious and Cultural Pluralism” was chaired by Jon Nilson at Chicago Loyola University. Richard Bulliet from Columbia University , Paul Knitter from Xavier University, Eileen Barker from London School of Economics, John McCarthy from Loyola University and Ted Peters from Pacific Luther Theological Seminary gave presentations there.

At a dinner organized for the participants at Hilton Palmer House Hotel, Professor Mehmet Saglam was invited to express his thoughts about the symposium. He pointed out the Gulen movement’s pioneering role in inter-religious dialogue and tolerance in Turkey. Professor Saglam told the movement presented dialogue awards in Turkey for the first time and started the tradition of gathering adherents of different religions at iftar dinners during Ramadan. “More than 200 schools and seven universities,” he said, “all over the world are all working with the philosophy of dialogue.”

Esposito, in his speech, pointed out the importance of education at home, school and society, the importance of trying to understand each other, and having empathy while having a dialogue in order to develop a true pluralism in the world. The world-wide known Professor hailed the Gulen movement’s activities in this frame.

Source: Today's Zaman , November 12, 2005

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