ANKARA: Anatolian Tolerance Example To The World

By Abdullah Ozyurt, Osman Balci

Zaman, Turkey
Sept 27 2005

Calls of brotherhood marked the First Hatay Meeting of Civilizations
where the leading representatives from different religions

Ecclesiastics who spoke at the meeting emphasized that Anatolia has
hosted several civilizations and tolerance calls spreading from these
lands can embrace the whole world.

On the first day of the meeting organized by the Society for the
Protection of Universal Values in Hatay and opened by Turkish Prime
Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan the other evening, the dignitaries of
Islam, Christianity and Judaism expressed that dialogue and tolerance
was the only alternative in order to live in peace.

Professor Ali Bardakoglu, head of Religious Affairs Directorate,
said ways of living together in peace should be found.

Bardakoglu, during his speech, in which he pointed out that religions
are based on basic ethic virtues, said the following:

“The first man and Prophet Adam and the light of prophet hood that
started with him have always called the humanity to peace, friendship
and brotherhood. This call has always been refreshed. Therefore,
the meeting of civilizations means the human beings’ are returning
to their essence and recognizing themselves. What we have here is
not the meeting of the religions on a certain basis but it is people
of different religions, cultures and beliefs coming together on the
basis of peace. ”

Fener Greek Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew reminded that a different
tension is currently being experienced in the world, starting from
the last 10 years of the last century.

Bartholomew stressed a healthy dialogue cannot be built on distrust
and hearsay.

“Religions cannot be behind terrorist attacks. We tried to inform
in the correct manner on all platforms the public opinion that has
acted against Muslims at times. We never suspect the rightness of
things we do and continue our efforts in this field.”

Hatay has served as a model to the world

The Armenian Patriarch of Turkey, Mesrob II expressed the pleasure
he had for the Meeting of Civilizations being held in Hatay.

“The stones of Hatay are the silent witnesses of this history. Hatay
is implementing the model of peace and tolerance the world and humanity
strongly needs, thus serving a model to the world.”

Rabbi Izak Haleva, the chief rabbi of Jews in Turkey, said every
individual has the right of freedom.

“It is a fact that those who escaped from oppression to certain
regions cannot be forced to return to their former homes and that
they cannot be sent back there is determined by divine commands.”

In the session entitled “Contributions of Religions in Civilizations”
held in the frame of the first Hatay Meeting of Civilizations
activities, citizens belonging to all religions should be able to
live in peace and have well-intentioned manners, it was emphasized.

Pope Benedict XVI who sent a congratulatory message to the meeting
said important missions await the men of religion to find a solution
to the problems caused by globalization and for peace of all mankind.

The pontiff, who in his message underlined the organization of such
a meeting is important for the history of Christianity, said, people
of different religions have lived in Antakya together in peace for
centuries and that this situation should serve a model to the world.

Meanwhile, the tight security measures that were taken around the
hall where the meeting took place attracted much attention.