ATFA & Rumi Forum Annual Dialogue & Friendship Dinner 2011

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Annual Friendship Dinner brought into prominence “The Act of Living Together”

The American Turkish Friendship Association (ATFA) along with the Rumi Forum – Fairfax organized the Annual Dialogue & Friendship Dinner. The event held at Marriot Hotel at Tysons Corner in Washington D.C. hosted so many distingueshed names from different walks of life. Elected state and city officials, community leaders, representatives of different faith communities, bussines, media and academia were at the program. This year’s event, like others, has a significant subject: ‘The Act of Living Together’

“Dialogue is one of the most effective means” said the Ahmet Tarık İlhan, President of American Turkish Friendship Association. He continued his remarks as “Dialogue is effective to overcome bigotry, prejudice, and fanaticism, and this is only possible when we respect one another’s humanity and individuality. Thus, knowledge of the other in their cultural setting is essential. By recognizing and respecting social, cultural, and religious diversity, an exchange of mutual values and union in collaboration, humanity ultimately will be led to unity.” İlhan also mentioned the goal and importance of the night by saying “The main purpose of this annual event is to promote inter-cultural dialogue and friendship by bringing people from different cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds together, and to celebrate our diversity in our community.”

At his opening remark speech Senior Political Scientist Angel Rabasa, talked about the Gülen Movement and its contribution to mutual understanding and respect among different entities.

The President of the Rumi Forum Emre Çelik also gave a speech at the dinner. Çelik quoted President Abraham Lincoln and said: “I destroy my enemies when I make them my friends.”

Dr. Pim Valkenberg, Ordinary Professor of Religion and Culture at the Catholic University of America was the keynote speaker at the program.

Chief Rick Rappopoprt of City of Fairfax Police Department made the closing remarks at the dinner. Chief Rappaport recently attended an intercultural trip to Turkey organized by American Turkish Friendship Association. He stated in his remarks, the trip was a wonderful and unforgettable experience and the Turkish people are the most gracious and generous hosts. “In every corner of the country we were met with such traditional hospitality.”

Guests of the event had a chance to taste the world-famous Turkish baklava and homemade, authentic Turkish appetizers prepared by ATFA volunteers.

A master calligrapher was on hand and he offered a performance of his calligraphy and gave a gift of his artwork to each guest. Calligrapher Aydin Cayir, traveled all the way from Istanbul, Turkey, where the art was originated and perfected.

Guests also witnessed an Ottoman Exhibition of archived laws and treatise demonstrating the respect and tolerance of the Ottoman Empire.