For Muslim participants it's an opportunity to break down taboos and challenge orthodox views. And we're going to ask two people from non-Islamic backgrounds and two people from Islamic backgrounds to sit on each table. It's a - faith is - faith comes from a set of principles that you believe in.
The event is called Speed Date a Muslim and Lateline's Tierney Bonini reporter couldn't resist the invitation. Each table is then gonna have one topic of discussion on it. You know, they - immediately they had an opinion and they had already categorised. I'm not a Muslim and I'm a guy and I'm a white dude. But it's like there's obviously some kind of, like, intimidation factor. KAVEH ARYA: So, you know, I have invited so many people.
His events not actually about dating, but more about cultural exchange.
Small groups of Muslims and non-Muslims are invited to sit together, share a meal and start a conversation completely uncensored.
TONY JONES: Well one young Australian's taking a different approach to building bridges between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Sydney man Kaveh Arya is a boxing coach by day and a speed dating host by night.
TONY JONES, PRESENTER: Less than five days after the worst mass shooting in US history, the Prime Minister of Australia hosted an Iftar, which is an evening meal marking the end of the daily fast during Ramadan.
The high-profile Muslim and non-Muslim guests gathered at Kirribilli House in Sydney tonight to share a meal and enter in a dialogue.
PARTICIPANT: Do you know Iran has the highest rate of sex change operations in the world? TIERNEY BONINI, REPORTER: Has anyone here been in a relationship with someone of a different faith? PARTICIPANT VIII: I really want to hear more about your idea of the Koran being, like, poetry. So you can follow one school of thought, but they may interpret a verse in a completely different way to another school of thought.Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull used this rare opportunity to reach out to the local Muslim community and to call for unity.MALCOLM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER: The aim of extremists, including those committing violence through a warped and nihilist interpretation of religion, is to divide us and to turn our citizens against each other.KAVEH ARYA, HOST, SPEED DATE A MUSLIM: The intention obviously, hopefully you know, is not actually dating. We're gonna limit these sorta conversations to about five minutes. It's widely assumed that the Islamic community are represented generally by conservatives or - on one hand and extreme fundamentalists on the other hand. PARTICIPANT III: I mean, I don't know many people who outwardly say that they're gay or lesbian or transsexual, etc. PARTICIPANT IV: I just had this experience recently where I was - I just finished performing and there were a lot of Muslim women performing poetry about feminism. Like, they're - like, they're too different to me or something like that. I have invited a massive array of people within this community who always, I guess, complain about not having enough representation. But what I'm hearing is a lot of people have rejected and boycotted the event because it's non-Islamic, yeah?There is a huge diversity that exists within the Islamic community - or within the community of people who come from Islamic backgrounds. And then this guy, this white guy, like blue cameo jacket, came up to me and said, "Oh, so what's with all these Muslim women talking about feminism in their poetry? PARTICIPANT VI: I guess the reason why I came today, I wanted to know what people were wanting to gauge from a Muslim or what they thought that they - they needed a better understanding of and what a Muslim person - I myself, I'm non-practicing, so I was very interested to know what a practicing Muslim, an orthodox Muslim would want to give up about themselves in terms of their identity. PARTICIPANT VI: I guess there'd be a lot of misconceptions about radical Muslims and for example moderate Muslims.
I personally don't agree with, you know, if you see what's happening with ISIS and people say they follow Wahhabism or - that's not my school of thought.