President Turk Builds Relations in Qatar

Tuesday, August 21, 2012 at 10:37AM

President Turk Builds Relations in Qatar

Jihad Turk, President-Designate of Bayan Claremont, visited Qatar as the U.S. Embassy’s special guest this Ramadan. Turk is a veteran ambassador for the Embassy’s International Information Program (IIP) program that works towards public diplomacy between the United States and the rest of the world. Some of the program’s many goals are to highlight the lives of American Muslims and to support movements of tolerance and compassion.

This visit to Doha, Qatar was unique in that it occurred during the holy month of Ramadan. The country has adjusted work hours during the day, and the evenings are filled with festivities¬–iftars (breaking of the fast dinners) and taraweh prayers (evening community prayers). Much of the social events take place after the community prayers, which end around 11 p.m. Turk had a filled itinerary; each day had engagements from morning through the late evening.

Turk met with a number of academics and dignitaries from local universities, government offices, and non-profit organizations. He spoke with the administration and faculty members of Qatar University, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani University, and of the Qatar Foundation Islamic Studies Dept.; he also met with the administrators of the Doha International Center for Interfaith Dialogue. The main themes of these meetings revolved around the situation of Islam and Muslims in the United States and focused on the need for more education as well as the importance of fostering strong interfaith relationships. Reflecting on his visit, Turk said, “I was impressed not only with the hospitality that I personally received but also with Qatar's greater vision for the future with a focus on education, development, the environment and philanthropy.”

In addition to addressing worshippers at Abu Bakr Al Siddique mosque, he gave the Friday sermon at Fanar, Qatar Islamic Cultural Center’s mosque, where Imams give sermons only in English to cater to the non-Arabic speaking attendees.

His Qatari hosts were also eager to share with Turk, their appreciation for art and cultural diversity. He toured the Museum of Islamic art, which reflected the rich legacy of the Islamic world. Turk also had the honor to open a calligraphy exhibit at the Youth Creative Arts Center with Qatari artist Salman Al Malik.

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