Coexistence in Nigeria and beyond
A two day conference titled “Establishing a Culture of Coexistence and Mutual Understanding: Exploring Fethullah Gülen’s Thought and Action” got underway in Nigeria's capital on Friday. Scholars from thirteen different countries have gathered for the conference at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja.
The event has been organized by Abuja-based Ufuk Dialogue Foundation and The Fountain magazine—a bimonthly magazine of scientific and spiritual thought.
The conference kicked off with the singing of the Nigerian National Anthem followed by a welcome address from Turkish Ambassador to Nigeria, Rifat Koksal.
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.
Due to illness, famed Turkish scholar Fetullah Gulen, who was to be the keynote speaker at the conference, sent his greetings from America. Gulen’s message was read by a member of the conference’s organizing committee, Professor Kyari Mohammed.
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.”
The Nigerian Minister of Education, Professor Ruqayyatu Ahmet Rufa'i emphasized the importance of the conference’s message. He said co-existence and mutual understanding would create a pathway to world peace.
The conference organizers stressed that Nigeria is an important place to hold the conference due to its cultural diversity and the rising Hizmet volunteer movement within the country.
In recent years the Hizmet movement, inspired by scholar Fethullah Gulen’s ideas, have established 16 schools, a university and an hospital in Nigeria.
The movement has been working proactively with the media and in the field of education to combat poverty in Nigeria.
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