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At Ramadan Dinner, Turkish Cultural Society Members Share Thoughts On Istanbul Airport Attack

Tuesday marks the final day of fasting for Ramadan, which is ending at an especially reflective time given the bombings that killed over 40 people at an airport in Istanbul last week. At Thursday night's annual sunset Iftar dinner held by the State College Turkish Cultural Center, volunteers and attendees shared their thoughts on the tragedy.

“I’m not going to call tables so feel free to get in line for the meal," said volunteer Turan Balik into a microphone, sending more than 150 people to a buffet of baklava, gyros and other Turkish foods. "That way we won’t have to wait too long. Enjoy the evening. Yes, please form the line now."

Ali Demirci is the Turkish Cultural Center's Volunteer Director. He was pleased with this year’s turnout, but also said he had a heavy heart for the civilians and international travelers killed by suicide bombers in Istanbul last Tuesday.

“I’m from that country. I was in the same airport three weeks ago. It could’ve been me," Demirci said. "Especially on Ramadan, it’s not all about being hungry. You have to treat others very gently. You cannot even say bad words to each other. How one can at this time of the year go and kill others, I don’t think they have a place in the religion.”

Thursday's Iftar was Centre County Commissioner Michael Pipe’s third during this year’s Ramadan. He also personally worried about the bombing given its timing.

“Somebody who I became friends with recently, he introduced me to another friend who actually flew over to Turkey the day before this attack occurred," Pipe said. "There was a sense of worry about dodging that tragedy and the fragility of life. He said ‘We just have to enjoy it.’"

Demirci said there’s only one way to stop cycles of cultural misunderstanding, and it starts with inviting others to his table events such as this one.

“In order to know each other, we have to have this kind of event to know each other better," Demirci said. "That’s the only way we can bring peace to the world. At least at the local level, we do our job of telling who we actually are. Then people will open their minds and hearts.”