Rumi Forum honored recipients of the 8th Annual RUMI Peace and Dialogue Awards at the National Press Club on October 30, 2014.

This year Rumi Forum recognized the extraordinary accomplishments of David Beckmann, Azizah al-Hibri and Rebbecca Winthrop in community service, human rights and education respectively. Many distinguished guests joined the Rumi Forum at the National Press Club in honoring the works of the award recepients.

Emre Celik, president of the Rumi Forum and Myron Belkind, president of the National Press Club welcomed the guests by giving opening remarks while Carol Bellamy of the International Baccalaureate gave the keynote speeck. Zeki Saritoprak, founder of the Rumi Forum gave the closing remarks. The speakers emphasized importance of human rights, education, community service and dialogue towards building peaceful societies.


EDavid_Beckmann_2014_rumi_awardsxtraordinary Commitment of Service to the Community Award

David Beckmann


Bread for the World





Extraordinary Commitment of Service to Women and Human Rights Award

Azizah al-Hibri

Founder and Chair




Rebecca-Winthrop-2014Extraordinary Commitment of Service to Education Award

Rebecca Winthrop


Center for Universal Education, The Brookings Institution









Azizah al-Hibri, Founder and Chair of KARAMAH (Muslim Woman Lawyers for Human Rights) won the award for Extraordinary Commitment of Service to Women and Human Rights at the 8th annual Rumi Peace & Dialogue Awards held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C on October 30th, 2014. She was honored at the ceremony for her outstanding perseverance in fighting for human rights and woman’s right both here in the United States and abroad.

Her articulation of Islam and the fundamental principles of the religion were presented in a clear and cohesive manner in her acceptance speech, where she went beyond her organization’s  neutrality to denounce ISIL and their claim of perpetrating acts in the name of Islam. Christian and Muslim, Arab and Kurd are being sold, kidnapped, raped and killed by ISIL in the name of the religion, and this has caused segway to distorting the fundamental principles of Islam by others unfamiliar with the teachings. Their recent violations of human rights and destruction of mosques and churches is “hurtful and repulsive” al-Hibri exclaimed and a clear “sin against God himself.” “Let there be no doubt that ISIS is violating fundamental Islamic principles, and we need to say this loudly because to quote (?) ‘to be silent in the face of evil is to be a mute devil.’”

The road ahead will be full of challenges however, it is in her belief that “evil cannot be defeated without the good” and the “good” in this context  is understanding the value of human life. Her work in this effort is by placing emphasis on the importance of education that, “while slow, it is the most stable and productive approach.” In her organization, she draws woman across the world to the U.S revolving around the value of human life, the importance of understanding human rights (through teachings of those embedded in the American Constitution), and the various commonalities between the faiths. By fostering this cross-cultural dialogue she hopes that there can be collective action in the future to unify and build bridges among all faiths and people.

For more information about her work visit:



“Thank you to the Rumi Forum for this award and for bringing us together, because we are all interconnected and the issues that we are talking about are all interconnected.” David Beckmann stated, as he was awarded the Extraordinary Commitment of Service to the Community Award at the 8th annual Rumi Peace & Dialogue Awards held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C on October 30th, 2014.

Through his commitment of overcoming poverty and hunger Beckmann is active on both the domestic and international level. On the domestic end, he serves as President of Bread for the World, an organization that brings together both Christians and Catholics from across the U.S to put pressure on their members of Congress as a means to enact change both here and abroad. In addition, he is the Founder/President of the Alliance to End Hunger, a forum that brings together citizens from around the world to work towards a common goal of hunger and poverty reduction.

Change isn’t just an idea, it’s a reality as Beckmann points out in his acceptance speech.  He enforces this point by drawing upon the example of the spring of 2011, when there was a debate in the nation’s capital between the House Republicans and Democrats. The Republicans were pushing for cuts in government spending–particularly in programs that benefit the poor, and the Democrats were pushing for the protection of the middle class. Two thirds of the proposed spending cuts represented programs that go to the poor, and without these programs many would starve and be further pushed into chronic poverty. Through efforts of protest, pressure and education of Congress, the proposed cuts were reduced to only 2% of programs that go out to the poor.“This is an example that a very small number of people who care can make a big difference.”

Although this change has happened in the past today hunger is still “not a national priority” for the United States, and “since 1990 the poverty rate ironically went up”. Beckmann calls for the need of continued mobilization to get hunger and poverty on the agenda of the U.S government so that the public can see the end of hunger by 2030.

For more information about him and his work on hunger and poverty reduction: Bread for the World Alliance to End Hunger

“It is a real honor to be rewarded in such company…I am very grateful and humbled and inspired by the mission of the Rumi Forum around dialogue across many different divides that I think is incredibly important in our world” Rebecca Winthrop said as she stepped up to accept her award in Extraordinary Commitment of Service to Education Award at the 8th annual Rumi Peace & Dialogue Awards held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C on October 30th, 2014.

Winthrop’s speech was centered around her work and research in global education, particularly in the subject of woman’s education. Winthrop is the Director at the Center for Universal Education and the Brookings Institute and has spent the last 15 years working in the field of education for displaced and migrant communities. However, she wasn’t always interested in education. Growing up she was focused on the environment and was an activist in her community. It wasn’t until her trip to Latin America that “opened [her] eyes in an incredible way.”

During her internship with a banana plantation she was exposed to the harsh differentials in opportunity and well being that poor communities in the developing world had in contrast to the poor communities in the United States. The plantation workers were risking their health every day by not wearing the required protective gear when they sprayed pesticides on the crop, simply because they couldn’t read the warning labels.

At that point in her life she realized that basic literacy is such an important foundation in people’s daily lives. Without the ability to read or even to write it is easy to get lost, miss opportunities and even to get hurt. On her second trip back to Latin America to work with refugees and women who were victims of gender violence on policy reform, the woman she was working with came to her and asked for a literacy program. To give these women the power to read, would give them the power to be free from their daily lives.

Winthrop emphasized global cooperation in order to break down barriers that limit people from obtaining an education. Though there is a long way to go in providing education to every citizen on this planet, she believes that there’s alot that can be accomplished within little time through empowering and supporting local leaders to finding solutions to overcome the barriers in accessing education.

You can find more about her research here: