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Monday, 24 February 2014
Page: 711

Ms OWENS (Parramatta) (16:24): On Saturday night, ISRA returned to Parramatta for one of its forums. ISRA is the Islamic Sciences & Research Academy of Australia, based at Charles Sturt University, which comes to Parramatta on a regular basis to host forums on aspects of Islam. It is always an interesting event, and it was particularly good to see so many people come on Saturday night.

I acknowledge the speakers, Sheik Haisam Farache, who spoke wonderfully on spirituality and in general, Dr Derya Iner, and Dr Salih Yucel, who both visited from much further afield than Sheik Farache. I also acknowledge Associate Professor Mehmet Ozalp, who has been so involved in ISRA for its entire history.

There were also prizes awarded for a poetry competition. It was great to see the eyes of so many young people light up when they were given prizes. We heard some of those poems read out. There was a poetry competition for under-12s, under-18s and in an open category. Some great work was heard on Saturday night.

I would like to play special tribute to what I will call 'the band'—although I do not think they were that. It was the Al Bashir Inshad Group—a group of five vocalists, who sang the Koran and did a number of other performances with incredible style and commitment. That was, for me, the highlight of the evening.