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ISC seeks cross-cultural aid

Concert will raise funds for earthquake victims

Omar Faruk Tekbilek plays a benefit concert for earthquake victims on Friday, April 21. Photo by Jodie Myers

When the members of BU’s International Students Consortium (ISC) wanted to raise money for earthquake victims in Pakistan, they took an international approach.

“More than three million people are homeless,” says Bilal Bilici (CAS’06), the ISC president. “People feel united, and they want to do something about it.”

To raise awareness and inspire generosity, Bilici recruited the acclaimed musician Omar Faruk Tekbilek — who is Turkish and Egyptian and has played with Armenian, Greek, Palestinian, Peruvian, and Trinidadian musicians. After an earthquake devastated Istanbul in 1999, Faruk’s ensemble performed at a fundraiser organized by New York’s Turkish Consulate and raised more than $150,000.

For this relief effort, Faruk will appear as part of the annual Boston Turkish Film and Music Festival, performing at the School of Law Auditorium on Friday, April 21, at 8 p.m. More than 200 tickets to the concert have already been sold, and Bilici says all proceeds from the ticket sales will go to aid earthquake victims.

Bilici, who is from Turkey, has been working with the Turkish Consulate of Boston to organize the event, and as a result the concert is expected to attract diplomats representing Egypt, France, Israel, Pakistan, Poland, Taipei, and Turkey. The concert has proven to be a big draw, Bilici explains, because “it’s not a political debate. It’s for a good cause.”

Originally from Adana, Turkey, Faruk was trained as a Sufi priest and performed in New York’s belly-dancing clubs throughout the 1980s before he was asked to contribute to the soundtrack of the 1990 documentary Suleyman the Magnificent. Since then, he has recorded more than a dozen albums and performed with musicians including Ginger Baker and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

The ISC has raised $14,000 in donations so far and expects to raise several thousand more through new gifts and ticket sales. Tickets with assigned seats are $30; general admission tickets are $15 for students and $10 for BU students.

Members of the ISC will be selling concert tickets every day this week at the Student Activities Office and in the GSU Link.