Friday, September 9, 2011, 300 people of all faiths came together for a night of remembrance. Pete Dominick, host of SiriusXM radio show, hosted the ceremony with a mix of humor and emotion.
Daisy Khan highlighted bridge-building projects between Muslims and Christians in the wake of the September 11 tragedy and paid tribute to all victims of terror, including the innocent lives lost in Norway. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, Chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, spoke on our collective need for healing and love. Geoff Tunnicliffe of the World Evangelical Association spoke on the importance of a strengthened interfaith dialogue. Paula Mayo of the Interchurch Center spoke about the Interchurch Center as a location for interreligious growth and communication for the past fifty years.
Media mogul, philanthropist, and Chairman of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, Russell Simmons, presided over the heart of the evening; honoring and remembering 9/11 victims by presenting each family with uniquely commissioned artwork hand-drawn by Chinese master Arabic calligrapher Haji Noor Deen. Each scroll featured, in Arabic, the name of each victim and the Quranic verse "Peace be upon you for what you have patiently endured."The Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr. concluded with a healing prayer.
Four survivors - Gerry Bogacz of Common Cause, Mamdouh Fekkak, author of Accidental American, Sekou Siby and Shailesh Shreshta describe how the experience of 9/11 prompted them to start their own initiatives to help others in need. See Stories of Hope and Resilience video below.
Bobby Ghosh, World Editor of TIME Magazine described the special 9/11 edition- Portraits of Resilience profiling politicians (George Bush), firefighters (Jim Richie), activists (Cindy Sheehan) and Muslim activists (James Yee and Daisy Khan).
Fahad Khan and Matt Gallagher of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) spoke about the importance of intercultural understanding. Ranya Idliby, co-author of The Faith Club discussed the importance of interfaith dialogue for children.
Todd Fine of Project Khalid traced the neighborhood's Arab roots as Little Syria through a poem entitled An Ode to America, written by Syrian poet Ameen Rihani. Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union talked about the dangers of curtailing religious freedoms in the US.
Rashid Ghazi, the director and executive producer of Fordson: Faith. Fasting, Football, screened a trailer for his film, which follows a predominantly Arab-American high school football team in post-9/11 America as they prepare for a cross-town rivalry during the month of Ramadan. The film has received rave reviews.
The event also featured a presentation by Prepare New York, an organization that collected over 50,000 ribbons and signatures in remembrance of the tenth anniversary of 9/11.
The evening concluded with an interfaith benediction, led by The Rev. T.K. Nakagaki of the New York Buddhist Church and a musical message of hope, sent by Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary.
At the closing, Children of Enjoy Islam read messages of Hope for the future and they sent a special message to the Norwegian people. Daisy Khan acknowledged the hand knotted rug that the Oslo Cathedral had sent in friendship to ASMA. Ms. Khan sent a specially commissioned Calligraphy for the people of Norway and presented it to their special representative.