Naomi Bloch represented Councilmember Trachtenberg yesterday afternoon at the event: Giving Peace a Voice: Enriching Minds, Engaging Hearts, Transforming Communities, the kick-off ceremony for Arab American Heritage Month that took place from 12:00 to 2:00 in the Theatre Arts Arena –Rockville Campus of Montgomery College.
After welcoming everyone, Enas Elhanifi, Arab American Heritage Month Coordinator, introduced Dr. Hercules Pinkney, Interim President, Montgomery College who made the opening remarks.
The Keynote Speaker, The Honorable Donna Edwards, Maryland Representative, U.S. Congress, was introduced by Dr. Sonya Chiles. who talked about how important it is for everyone to listen to people unlike themselves from other cultures and points of view and not to just talk “at” one another and that she has found, through her travels to the countries in the Middle East, that no matter what country, religion or culture they are from, that the “people on the ground” all what their children to grow up in peace; in a world without violence.
She took questions from the audience after her remarks. Several questions focused on the challenges of the peace process particularly as it pertains to Israel and the Palestinian people; the Settlements and Iran to which Rep. Edwards responded that there is much work to be done, that peace is difficult work and that all stakeholders have work to do and a role to play and that these negotiations need to be taking place behind the scenes and not in front of the cameras or in the newspapers. And she told everyone of the repeated desire expressed by the people in all the countries in the Middle East for more leadership from the United States on these issues.
The Special Guest Speaker was Ms. Dalia Mogahed, Senior Analyst and Executive Director, Gallup Center for Muslim Studies and Member of President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Ms. Mogahed referenced U.S. History and the writings of the Founders to remind everyone how this country was build on the idea that people were free to worship in whatever way they wanted to without prejudice. She referred to a book that told the story about the contributions of Arabs and Muslims made as soldiers in Americans wars all the way back The Revolutionary War. She wrapped up her remarks by stating that Arab Americans do not want to be merely tolerated but embraced for their continuing contributions to life in America.
Entertainment by jazz musicians Lena Seikaly and Samir Moulay Elmehdaoui and food were provided to cap off the program.
For more information about the Community Dialogue Series Celebrating Arab American Heritage Month at Montgomery College – April 2010, please contact: Enas Elhanafi at: 240.567.1759 or email: mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org.