Time for Reflection
Eid al-fitr, a celebration held throughout the world to observe the end of Ramadan, the month-long fasting that takes place annually among followers of Islam, was held last night in the Dunn Conference Center.
"Ramadan is a time for spiritual reflection as well as fasting among Muslims," said Dr. Jabbar Al-Obaidi, professor of communication studies and director of the university's Center for Middle East Studies, in opening the program.
Speaking about the recent outbreak of violence in the Middle East, which led to the death of four Americans, including the ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, Dr. Al-Obaidi said, "We should not view what happened last week in Benghazi, Libya, as anything associated with Muslims, or the Arab world, or the people of the Middle East. Our religion detests such acts. It was a clash of ignorance and we cannot allow this kind of ignorance to prevail."
Welcoming remarks were also delivered by Frederick Clark, executive vice president and vice president for external affairs, who also noted the unrest in the Middle East. "As we gather to celebrate the end of Ramadan, we are reminded that the powerful and disturbing images, which we have seen coming from a number of countries in the Middle East over the past week, underscore and emphasize how urgently important our work is in promoting and sustaining harmony, justice, understanding, cooperation and communication," he said.
Mr. Clark praised the work of Dr. Al-Obaidi, which has had, he said, "an enormous impact in helping Bridgewater establish strong educational and diplomatic ties with nations and universities in the Middle East."
Dr. Al-Obaidi has also done important work in developing partnerships and exchange programs with a host of institutions in that region of the world, from Jordan and Iraq to Israel and Egypt, said Mr. Clark.
Among the speakers was Andrea Garr-Barnes, director of BSU's Center for Multicultural Studies.
"I'm so grateful to Dr. Al-Obaidi because he taught me what Ramadan is and its meaning among Muslims," Ms. Garr-Barnes said. "It changed my life and it changed the life of my students, a number of whom are here this evening for this celebration."
Other speakers for the evening, which included a dinner, were Reverend Pat Miller Fernandes of Bridgewater United Methodist Church and Dr. Khaled Attia of the Islamic Center of New England.
Dr. Mahmoud El-Hashhash of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science provided a reading from the Quran. Student moderators were Zohaa Basra and Ala'a Elshaar.
The event was sponsored by the Center for Middle East Studies and the Center for Multicultural Affairs. (David K. Wilson, '71, Office of University Advancement)