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The Mardin Rendezvous

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  • Thomas P
    The Mardin Rendezvous Ali Bulac Zaman Newspaper 15 May 2004 Turkey The second of the inter-religions dialogue meetings, after the first one held in Harran,
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      The Mardin Rendezvous

      Ali Bulac
      Zaman Newspaper
      15 May 2004
      Turkey

      The second of the 'inter-religions dialogue' meetings, after the
      first one held in Harran, Urfa four years ago, took place in Mardin.
      The opening of the second meeting, entitled, "Inter-Cultural
      Dialogue/Mardin Meeting," was held in Kasimiyye Madrasah, Mardin and
      ended with a tour of Mardin city center, Midyat and Nusaybin. The
      symposium session of the meeting continues today and tomorrow in
      Istanbul.


      Holding the first two meetings in Harran and Mardin has a meaning. In
      the first meeting, the religious and historical framework under which
      the three celestial religions should come together around was taken
      up. Prophet Abraham was determined as the common ancestor, and a
      general consensus was reached by the followers of the three religions
      on the common standard. Therefore, the first meeting was a
      theoretical search in a sense. But of course, it is a 'practical
      issue' how the followers of different religions will come together,
      how they will view the serious crises that our world, and
      particularly our region, have passed through, and on what effective
      level they will convey messages of peace and cooperation. If a
      targeted thought had not been implemented at first, concrete
      possibilities are being sought for the realization of this theory. A
      concrete possibility is directly related to time and experience.
      Whereas, we had a concrete living example of this issue, and that is
      the crucial experience of the different ethnic and religious groups
      that lived together in Mardin for hundreds of years.

      Mardin has come to agenda in recent years for various reasons. Mardin
      is a concrete example of how to live together without clashes in our
      world, where the clashes are growing more violent, and gradually
      moving towards destructive dimensions; it is an epitome of a living
      tradition. Even though the Jewish population emigrated to other
      places from the beginning of the first quarter of this century, there
      is still a 'Jewish neighborhood' in people's minds. Assyrians still
      maintain their existence with various sects. Besides, it is possible
      to see the influence of the different cultures in the architectures
      and stone carvings in the city. From this angle, it was very
      appropriate to choose Mardin to host this year's meeting. In
      addition, local and international guests touring the city could not
      hide their astonishment and admiration. Some said, "We did not think
      that there could be a such city keeping these cultures alive."

      The organization was perfect. However, both in Mardin and Midyat as
      well as Nusaybin, Assyrian churches and historical sites were somehow
      brought to the fore. It is certain that there are very many important
      Assyrian sites in Mardin; everybody is proud of protecting and
      carrying them to this day. However, there are also as many Islamic
      historical sites, even more than the others. Mardin came under the
      rule of Islam in the early ages. Muslims embarked on tracing history
      during the era stretching from the Emevis to the Ottomans. From
      mosques to madrasahs, from bazaars to hamams... The Mardin Ulu
      Mosque, Sehidiye Mosque, Latifiye Mosque, Zinciriye Madrasah and many
      other important masterpieces. Somehow, none of them were put in the
      program and some Muslim participants, for example Istanbul Mufti
      Mustaf Cagrici, said that they could not see the Islamic traces even
      though they had wished to, and thus they were saddened. Some conveyed
      their complaints to me personally. They said, "It was as if we walked
      around an Assyrian church. We couldn't see anything except the
      Christian motifs." If the concrete examples of the fact that
      religions can live peacefully together were to be shown, the sites of
      the two religions should have been put in the program and we should
      have been shown the traditions of both religions.
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