UNITING FAITH: CQUniversity staff members Mike Malouf and Rebecca Ballantyne, Interfaith and Cultural Diversity Society's event co-ordinator Daniel Siaw, treasurer Chloe Wieden and vice-president Muhammed Emin Yildirim.
UNITING FAITH: CQUniversity staff members Mike Malouf and Rebecca Ballantyne, Interfaith and Cultural Diversity Society's event co-ordinator Daniel Siaw, treasurer Chloe Wieden and vice-president Muhammed Emin Yildirim. Tahlia Stehbens

Terror attack sparks interfaith conversation

WE ALL exist with varying backgrounds, beliefs and cultures, most being harmonious examples of how multiculturalism can flourish.

Even before the Christchurch attack took place a group of CQUniversity students were working to create a group that enhanced the multicultural experience.

Interfaith and Cultural Diversity Society's vice president Muhammed Emin Yildirim said the group first met in the first week of February to get the ball rolling.

"The idea of our society is to build up awareness without looking at people's race, religion or skin colour, and to have respect," Mr Yildirim said.

"After the attack it is obvious that this society's role is very important.

"We are trying to build up the awareness, we are trying to avoid any sort of hate or anger."

The society's event co-ordinator Daniel Siaw said the group met during the first week of each month, inviting a number of people from around the community to engage in stimulating conversation.

"It's important for other cultures and other faith groups to communicate to create an understanding between all of us," Mr Siaw said.

"It's also to share ideas and learn about each other."

Mr Yildirim said it was all about creating a harmonious environment for all.

"We want to achieve peace, that's the whole idea," he said.

"No hatred, no anger, nothing can come and divide our community.

"We are working on building up that peace, and we will do whatever it takes."

CQUniversity staff member Mike Malouf said the group, now with some 35 members and growing, had been a great student initiative.

"In essence what we want to do is inject principles of love and relationship," he said,

"We want to blossom the spring flower of community relationships instead of what happened in Christchurch were there was just hate. We want to down-cry those.

"We understand there are differences in culture and religion and those differences can actually be strengths, but we need people understand and learn about these differences and respect them and celebrate them.

"What we don't want is any argument or fierce debate about religion.

"But if there are any genuine questions and people who are really searching for answers, they are more than welcome. We just want to keep it on a positive level."

The next interfaith meeting will be on April 3 at 1pm at room 112 at the University, where representatives of the Aboriginal, Hindu and Muslim faiths will discuss their religion.

Those with no religion are also welcome to attend the meetings.

- Tahlia Stehbens



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