Welcoming Address at the Symposium on Globalisation and Images of the Other
Your Excellencies the Governor of Istanbul, the member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Director General of Education, Culture and Heritage, Youth and Sport, Presidents and members of universities, academicians, experts and participants,
Welcome to IRCICA on the occasion of the Symposium on ?Globalisation and Images of the Other: challenges and new perspectives for History Teaching in Europe?? It is a pleasure for IRCICA to be co-organising this symposium which marks an important stage of the Council of Europe project on the Image of the Other in History Teaching. For our Centre, participation in this project of the Council of Europe has added an important dimension to research programs we have been conducting on themes relating to the images of different nations and cultures of each other, and issues of dialogues and exchanges among them.
IRCICA is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-seven states and has history as one of its main fields of activity. Within the OIC framework IRCICA is assigned the responsibility of making better known and presenting the true image of Islam and Muslim cultures to peoples of the world. Thus IRCICA represents the Muslim countries in forums where zones or regions of common cultures are represented by their international and regional organisations. In this capacity IRCICA coordinated and participated in several collaborative research and interactive cultural development programs jointly with states and with counterpart organisations including UN agencies and regional organisations in all continents. The aim of such IRCICA projects has mainly two aspects. The first is to produce references in world?s major languages for educational and academic purposes and also for wider readership; the second aspect is to contribute to mutual recognition between different cultures by organising multicultural encounters around professional activities such as restoration of cultural and architectural heritage, artistic and architectural competitions. I can cite for example, the ten-year program of annual architectural workshops we organised in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the current ten-year program of architectural studies and workshops concerning Al-Quds/Jerusalem.
Again in this capacity IRCICA has been conducting for some years now a project to examine and if necessary revise the history textbooks used in the OIC-IRCICA member countries with respect to references to each others? histories and cultures. This project is conducted in stages defined on the basis of regions and in cooperation with the concerned countries? governments.
Diversities between peoples became more visible in the process of globalization as interdependencies grew. While long distance relations became everyday practice, togetherness of cultures in common geographical contexts acquired deeper sense for the present and future of societies. In consequence, world community became increasingly conscious of the challenges and prospects brought by this process in educating the coming generations with the appropriate visions.
The project of the Council of Europe towards analyzing and developing understandings of the Other is of extreme importance in this context. Similar purpose efforts undertaken or to be undertaken elsewhere are also much relevant and necessary. Generating a new vision of the Other is a need for all nations with regard to one another. But it is equally needed on a larger scale, between the world?s faiths, between the broad cultural and faith communities or ?civilisations? as is commonly termed. In Europe, Asia and elsewhere 20th century has seen major wars and discords between nations which later reached settlements and reconciliations. It is high time to consider also settling the centuries-long misunderstandings and misinterpretations between Islam and Christianity, Europe and the Muslim world. It is high time to consider modifying the histories of conflict into more realistic histories that would acknowledge the periods of peaceful coexistence and fruitful exchanges between these faiths and civilizations which also lasted centuries. Significant evidence to such times of peaceful coexistence is found in the history of Istanbul as in the history of various regions of Europe. One of the main objectives of IRCICA is to contribute towards this aim and I hope attention will also be directed to this question within the framework of the Council of Europe project.
Indeed in the age of globalization a new ?morality? is now required in approaching the Other, and such morality needs to be established at an intersection of faiths and cultures, so that coexistence in a global context becomes a genuine one and not one necessitated by the conditions. Education, especially history education, is certainly the key towards this aim.
Before concluding I wish to express my gratitude the contributions to the Presidency of Y?ld?z Technical University and Prof. Dr. ?smail Yüksek, President of Y?ld?z Technical University, for kindly providing the halls and facilities for the working sessions to continue in the afternoon. I would like to express my thanks and appreciation to Ms. Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Director General of Education, Culture and Heritage, and Dr. Jean-Pierre Titz, Head of the Division of History Education, Council of Europe, and their colleagues, for the excellent collaboration. IRCICA is ready to continue to contribute to this important project in all the ways within its competence. I welcome you again, and wish you a good meeting.