A Regional Project for the Near East and North Africa
Buffalo, NY - Monday, July 24th, 2023: Western New York Muslims had the distinct honor of hosting a delegation as part of the esteemed International Visitor Leadership Program, organized by the U.S. Department of State in conjunction with the International Institute of Buffalo with an objective to focus on Interfaith Dialogue and Religious Freedom - A Regional Project for the Near East and North Africa.
The visit commenced with a tour of Masjid An-Noor, for which the Islamic Society of Niagara Frontier's cooperation was invaluable.
The delegation, consisting of distinguished individuals from various regions, engaged in an open discussion about the moral and philosophical foundations of religious life in the United States. The discourse delved into the historical origins of religious freedom and the impact of immigration on religious practices in America.
The delegates who participated in this enriching experience were as follows:
- Ms. Taghreed Ali Abdulla Hashem ALAWI, Deputy Board Chairman, Al-Marsd for Human Rights Society, Bahrain
- Ms. Sara Ahmed Allam Mohammed Shaltout, Media Advisor, Anglican Church of Egypt
- Mr. Naief Abo Sharkeia, Senior Advisor, Kelman Institute for Conflict Transformation, Israel
- Mr. Ebraheem Almutairi, Islamic Religion Teacher, Ministry of Education, Kuwait
- Mr. Abdel Munam Mansur EL HUR, Jr, General Secretary, Arab Organization for Human Rights in Libya
- Ms. Zohra Rehihil, Director and Curator, Moroccan Jewish Museum, Morocco
- Mr. Ahmed AL MAAMARI, Supervisor over (Islamic) Quran schools, Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs, Oman
- Mr. Loay Ahmed Amin Mahmoud Al Shareef, Strategic Engineer, Siraj Research & Studies, UAE
Following the discussion, the delegates had the opportunity to experience South-Asian cuisine at lunch, generously donated by Apna Dera Restaurant and hosted by Faizan Haq, Founding President, and Farina Mirza, Executive Director of WNYMuslims. The conversation then continued, focusing on the impact of religion on political life in the United States and the rationale behind the separation of religion and state. The visit culminated with an engaging Q&A session, allowing for further exploration of various topics and cultural perspectives.
WNYMuslims expressed their heartfelt appreciation to the International Institute of Buffalo for their collaboration and the opportunity to host this enlightening event. We hope for continued support in future endeavors, fostering greater understanding and friendship between regions and cultures.
The occasion exemplified the essence of the International Visitor Leadership Program, promoting cross-cultural dialogue and laying the groundwork for enduring global connections. The experience left an indelible mark on both hosts and delegates, emphasizing the importance of intercultural exchange in cultivating a harmonious and interconnected world.