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Conference endorses Gülen's ideas as guides for Nigerian education system

Conference endorses Gülen's ideas as guides for Nigerian education systemAn international conference organized by the Ufuk Dialogue Foundation and The Fountain magazine under the auspices of the Nigerian federal ministry of education and six Nigerian universities endorsed Fethullah Gülen's ideas on a culture of coexistence and mutual understanding as among guiding principles of the Nigerian education system.

The first day of the conference titled "Establishing a culture of coexistence and mutual understanding: Exploring Fethullah Gülen's thought and action" on Friday attracted to the conference hall of the Transcorp Hilton, Abuja, more than 300 statesmen and intellectuals including Nigerian Federal Minister of Education Ruqayyatu Ahmed Rufa'i and Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria Ali Rıfat Köksal. Professor Kyari Muhammad, a member of the local organizing committee read a special message from Gülen.

In his message Gülen thanked the Nigerian authorities for having welcomed Turkish schools and teachers to their country, which "has a crucial role in Africa with its great population and strategic geographic position, [and is] a country that has enormous potential to be an exemplary land with its rich ethnic, cultural and religious mosaic." Gülen also reiterated his belief in the goodness and beauty in the essence of humanity and that "one day we will attain that high level of humanity this essence calls us to."

Speaking at the opening ceremony of the conference Köksal suggested that in order to overcome the uncertainties created after the Cold War era, we need to move beyond simple tolerance and attain a new definition of mutual understanding and coexistence. "This conference will do this in the Nigerian context," said Köksal. He compared Nigeria to Turkey by means of its ethnic pluralism and suggested that these multiplicities should be seen as richness and not sources of problems. Referring to Turkish schools opened in Nigeria, Köksal underlined that these schools would build bridges not only between Nigeria and Turkey, but between all 120 countries in which they operate.

The first day of the conference featured three sessions where academics discussed the religious and modern backgrounds of Gülen's thoughts. The director of Centre for Regional Integration and Development in Abuja, Hamidu Bobboyi, brought an overview of the relationship between the Ottoman Empire and Central Bilad al-Sudan, which is known as Nigeria today, so as to sketch the historical background of culture of coexistence under the Ottomans. Associate Professor Sakah Saidu Mahmud from Kwara State University presented a paper on the lessons of Gülen's thought for managing communal conflicts in Nigeria.

The conference will continue Saturday with names like Professor Maimul Ahsan Khan of the University of Dhaka, Professor Azmuddin Ibrahim of Universiti Selangor, Professor Gjergj Sinani of the University of Tirana, featuring among others. The conference will be broadcast online through the official websites of the conference, www.nigeriaconference2011.org and www.cultureofcoexistence.org.