News + Blog

18 February 2016

Exploring the Religious Conflicts in Syria and Iraq

A lecture and discussions with Imam Afroz Ali and Dr Julian Droogan with a musical interlude by violinist Anna McDonald.


18 February 2016

Sunday April 3

2 – 4:15 pm

Pitt St Uniting Church

264 Pitt Street, Sydney (Near Town Hall Station)

Register via:

Online advance bookings by 1 April $20

Entry at the door $30

Eremos members pay $5 less.

Student price $10

Includes afternoon tea.

Imam Afroz Ali
Imam Afroz Ali

What ideologies/ religious perspectives are fueling the hostilities?

Is there a faith based perspective that can inform what our response might be?

Eremos is pleased to host this forum to better understand current Middle Eastern conflicts.

With a long history of tackling intricate questions of faith and culture and a desire to better understand this multifaceted issue, Eremos has initiated this event. We have asked two prominent and scholarly speakers to open up the conversation on this difficult and controversial topic. They bring their expertise to help unravel some of the complexities and explore with us possible responses from a faith perspective. We hope that you will join us for this stimulating afternoon and extend the invitation to friends, family and colleagues.

Dr Julian Droogan is a Senior Lecturer at the Centre for Policing, Intelligence and Counter Terrorism (PICT), Macquarie University. He has studied anthropology, Asian history and culture and religious studies as an undergraduate and wrote on religious identity formation for his postgraduate research work. His areas of research expertise include religious radicalisation and violent extremism, the history of religious terrorism and political violence, and South Asian religion, history and culture.

Julian Droogan
Dr Julian Droogan

Julian's research projects include an ongoing program looking at Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in Australia, especially at ways that academics and industry can work together to produce CVE outcomes. Julian also has an interest in the relationship between religions and international security in the Asia Pacific.

Imam Afroz Ali is an esteemed Islamic scholar having received licences to teach from some of the most respected Islamic Scholars of our time. He is the Founder and President of Al-Ghazzali Centre for Islamic Sciences & Human Development based in Sydney.

Imam Afroz is also a founding member of the Australian Religious Response to Climate Change, and the recipient of the International Ambassador for Peace award and is an Australian Ambassador for the Charter for Compassion.  He has dealt extensively on topics of extremism, radicalisation and Middle Eastern politics.

A lovely complement to the words will be a musical interlude by accomplished violinist Anna McDonald. Anna’s music is strongly influenced by many faiths and cultures including Sufism, Armenian and Classical Arabic.

Anna McDonald Violinist

Anna studied modern violin in Canberra and at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.  She then lived in London for many years, playing principally in the early music field, becoming concertmaster of the Gabrieli Consort and the Hanover Band.  On her return to Australia, she lead the ABC recording orchestra in Sydney for 10 years, was the founding concertmaster of Pinchgut Opera, and played in many festivals and concert halls as a baroque violinist.  A growing interest in music of the east lead her to study the music of Turkey, Armenia and Iran, and to form the ensemble "Mythra", which is an intercultural chamber ensemble based in Sydney.  Presently she is studying Iranian music on the kemancheh (an ancient string instrument), and continuing her journey to find and express meeting points between eastern and western cultures in a meaningful conversation. 

The history we can explore of musical development has so many interlinking elements: from Greek theoretical ideas and modes that spread to both the western and eastern/Arab worlds, to the early church music of Armenia which helped to shape musical style in the Christian world and beyond, to the strikingly similar ideals in musical treatises from both European and Arabic sources. The intervals between notes affect the listener in definite, objective ways, and if understood, can be extremely uplifting to the soul. 

In the east, the number of musical intervals are far higher, as the micro-tonal notes found in many modes give very specific emotional and spiritual overtones to the music being expressed.  In her own compositions and in developing new music with players from the Middle East, she finds the ongoing musical conversation leads to ever-more appreciation of cultures which can exist and thrive in harmony, complimenting and deepening each other.

Rev. Dr Margaret Mayman, Minister of Pitt Street Uniting Church will MC the afternoon.

Online advance bookings by 1 April $20 

Entry at the door $30

Eremos members pay $5 less.

Student price $10

Includes afternoon tea



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