AUSTRALIAN ISLAMIC LEADER FOSTERS STRONGER LINKS WITH FILIPINO MUSLIMS
Ikebal Mohammed Adam Patel, President of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils (AFIC) is currently visiting Manila for a series of meetings and lectures aimed at fostering stronger interfaith ties between Australia and the Philippines.
“The visit, which coincides with the observance of Ramadan, serves as an opportunity for our countries to share experiences on Islamic community issues and promote interfaith understanding,” Ambassador Rod Smith said.
Patel met with Philippine Government representatives and academe, spearheading discussions on Australia’s commitment to the promotion of tolerance, respect and pluralism through interfaith dialogue.
He discussed the significant role that AFIC plays in representing and articulating the interests of Australian Muslims, including social and religious integration, education and political representation, to the Australian government and other national and international bodies.
“Australia is a highly multicultural society, with 42 per cent of all Australians either born overseas or with a parent born overseas.”
“Islam is Australia’s fourth largest religious grouping. There are over 350,000 Muslim Australians, some forty per cent of whom were born in Australia. Muslim Australians have made important contributions in a wide range of social, economic, cultural, religious and education endeavours,” Ambassador Smith said.
Australia is a strong supporter of interfaith dialogue as a means to bridge differences and divisions between people. Australia and the Philippines, together with Indonesia and New Zealand, are co-sponsors at the Regional Interfaith Dialogue process which has held meetings in Yogyakarta in 2004, Cebu in 2006, New Zealand in 2007, Phnom Penh in 2008 and Perth in 2009.
In the Philippines, the Australian Embassy developed the Strengthening Grassroots Interfaith Dialogue and Understanding – or SGIDU – Program to support peace-building activities by community groups and non-government organisations in Mindanao and Metro Manila.
Since its inception, SGIDU has provided a total of over Php36 million to 61 grassroots projects that focus on strengthening interfaith and intercultural understanding, and promoting peace-building and anti-violence.