Niagara Foundation Peace and Dialogue Awards

By Adil James, TMO

Jennifer White, MC from the Niagara Peace and Dialogue Awards.

The Niagara Foundation held an awards ceremony Thursday October 27th, 2011 at the Westin Southfield, which celebrated several prominent people, including Graham W.J. Beal of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Janice M. Brown of the Kalamazoo Promise, Stephen Schram, Director of Broadcasting for Michigan Public Radio, and Victor Ghalib Begg, Community Activist.

About 100 people attended the awards ceremony and dinner.

The Niagara Foundation’s mission is to serve “societal peace, love, and friendship wisely and compassionately in support of human dignity and the common good by striving to bring forth the common values of humanity; values such as understanding, tolerance, respect, and compassion.”

The organization has branches in eight states.  Its founders, honorary president, and advisory board, are from Turkey.  The honorary president is Mr. Fethullah Gulen.  The Executive Director of the Michigan branch is Mr. Yasir Bilgin.

The Niagara Foundation has maintained a connection with and has celebrated the accomplishments of numerous journalists, educators, and leaders, the prestige of whom was well-reflected by the Michigan award winners in 2011.

The event featured professional videos of all the past and current award recipients, and recipient thank you speeches.

Graham Beal, of the DIA, spoke of his efforts in the direction of diversity, speaking of the African, Native American, and Islamic Art portion of the DIA, which last he had supported “because of the things done in the last ten years,” and he spoke of the Christian art in the Islamic section, which proved the coexistence of Muslims with Christians inside their nations.

Janice Brown of the Kalamazoo Promise program, spoke of the cooperative nature of the KPS program and how it was focused only on educating the Kalamazoo children.

Steve Schram of Michigan Public Radio spoke of his program’s series on the Muslims of Michigan. 

The evening was defined by its class and organization, and by the respect it gave to the prominent award recipients; focusing more on quality than quantity.


25th Unity Dinner Bigger, Better

By Adil James, TMO

P9180121Detroit–September 18–The CIOM’s annual unity dinner happened again for the 25th time, this time in a new venue, the Detroit Institute of Arts.  Hundreds of Muslims attended, representing the majority of the Southeast Michigan mosques. 

A full program welcomed the visitors, with a screening of “On a Wing and a Prayer,” tours of Detroit’s art gallery, a children’s program, and speeches by many prominent people including the Muslim filmmaker Alex Kronemer, Archbishop Allen A. Vigneron, Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly, and Craig Fahle of WDET.  CIOM speakers included Dr. Muzammil Ahmed, Victor Ghalib Begg, and Dr. Abdalmajid Katranji.

Alex Kronemer spoke on the importance of communicating across boundaries of race and religion, and of the importance of being a positive force in the world while negative forces hold so much sway over the human mind.

Archbishop Vigneron spoke eloquently on the importance of cooperation across religious lines on issues where there is mutual agreement, and he emphasized those areas, namely that God is One, that He created the universe,  that He created the human race, giving them reason and freedom, that He spoke to His creatures, teaching them, that all men and women will be held to account. He offered powerful arguments to show that despite popular wisdom to the contrary, faith and religion have always been powerful forces behind scientific inquiry.