Brussels, 19th March 2024 – The halls of the European Parliament echoed with the spirit of unity and diversity as distinguished guests and community leaders gathered for an intercultural iftar dinner aimed at fostering dialogue and understanding among different cultures and faiths.

The event, hosted by MEP Kathleen Van Brempt, unfolded into an evening of insightful speeches and meaningful conversations, all underscoring the vital significance of solidarity and unity in our contemporary world. MEP Kathleen Van Brempt, a prominent advocate for diversity and inclusion, kicked off the evening with a heartfelt welcome, setting the stage for an enriching exchange of ideas and experiences. Against the backdrop of numerous conflicts, such as those in Ukraine and Gaza, MEP Van Brempt stressed the imperative of gatherings like these, serving as poignant reminders of our shared humanity and the urgent need for empathy and understanding. She highlighted the privilege of having access to food, juxtaposing it with the stark reality faced by those torn apart by conflict, where such basic necessities are tragically scarce.

Among the keynote speakers was Fatima Altunbas-Kaya, President of the Intercultural Dialogue Platform (IDP), who highlighted the significance of promoting dialogue and cooperation among diverse communities. Her remarks underscored the crucial role of platforms like the intercultural Iftar dinner in fostering mutual respect and understanding.

Alexandre Thiry, Project Manager at Fedactio, brought his expertise in social cohesion to the forefront, highlighting the pivotal role of cultural exchange in uniting communities. He expressed sincere appreciation for the extensive support from participants and shed light on the transformative power of intercultural dialogue in creating cohesive societies. 

Elisabeth Razesberger, President of the Governing Board at the Chapel for Europe, echoed similar sentiments, stressing the need for peace, justice, and interfaith dialogue in a world plagued by conflicts and divisions.

The evening also included insights from Massimo Ronco, Research & International Policy Analyst at IDP, who delved into the subject of interfaith dialogue, drawing from his experiences with the PROTONE project. He offered invaluable perspectives on the potential of dialogue and collaboration among diverse faith communities to foster greater harmony and understanding in our society.

As the sun set and the call to prayer resonated through the halls, guests gathered to break their fast together, symbolising the spirit of unity and solidarity that defines the iftar tradition.

The ambience was further enriched by the enchanting live music performance by Mevlut Akgungor and Robert Micin from the Makam Duo. Their mesmerising melodies transcended language and cultural barriers, uniting guests in harmony and joy.

Following the dinner, guests had the opportunity to hear from esteemed attendees representing various communities. Dr. Jack McDonald, speaking on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, highlighted the importance of compassion in building bridges between different religious traditions. Tiar Rkia, President of the European Women of Faith Network, emphasised the role of altruism in fostering mutual understanding. Jonathan Krauter from the House of One in Germany shared insights on the significance of humanity and interfaith cooperation in promoting peace and solidarity.

As the evening drew to a close, guests continued their conversations over dessert, exchanging ideas and forging new friendships. The event served as a powerful reminder of the importance of embracing diversity and living together in harmony.

In a world marked by growing polarization and division, the intercultural iftar evening at the European Parliament stood as a beacon of hope and solidarity, reaffirming the timeless values of solidarity, compassion, and mutual respect. As participants departed, they carried with them not only cherished memories but also a renewed commitment to building a more inclusive and harmonious world for future generations.