On October 16, 2005, the Journalists and Writers Foundation organized a program titled “Towards Universal Peace,” which featured young people of different cultures and faiths. The event took place at the Hilton Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey.
We, Bosnians, Croatians, and Serbs, receive education at the same school, side by side. If Turks opened schools in every country there would be no wars in the world.
Edin, student from Sarajevo
Attendance at the event was higher than expected and included the President of the Turkish Grand National Assembly Bulent Arinc, as well as 1000 other distinguished guests, such as ministers, members of parliament, diplomats, governors, head officials of provincial districts, mayors, journalists, writers and artists.
The program commenced with Ahmet Ozhan giving the evening call to prayer. Following dinner, the guests watched a multimedia show featuring images from the Turkish schools established in various parts of the world.
Then, students who graduated from Turkish schools took the stage, including those from Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, the Philippines, Cambodia, Pakistan, Morocco and Van, Turkey. Particularly meaningful was the attendance of students from schools opened with funds raised during the football match between the Turkish National Team Stars and the World Stars, an event organized by JWF during the Bosnian War.
These graduates represented different nations, faiths and cultures, and they described their educational experiences in their common language of Turkish.
One of the students, Edin from Sarajevo, said, “What did you lose opening schools in our country? We, Bosnians, Croatians, and Serbs, receive education at the same school, side by side. If Turks opened schools in every country there would be no wars in the world.”
An African student emphasized Turkey’s role as an actor of peace, saying, “These schools will illuminate my unfortunate, black continent.”
A Russian student stressed the role of the schools in Turkish-Russian friendship, saying, “These schools are like rose gardens. Those in there smell like roses even if they are not roses.”
A Kirghiz student added, “The [theory of the] clash of civilizations is refuted thanks to the Schools of Peace.”
The evening demonstrated that building bridges “Towards Universal Peace” was not an unattainable dream.
The meeting concluded with songs sung by Zara, Ahmet Ozhan, and Ibrahim Erkal. Each participant was given a book titled Bridges of Peace, prepared under the editorship of Prof. Dr. Toktamis Ates. The book contained the views and observations of famous politicians, writers, and academicians regarding the Turkish schools.
State Officers and Politicians
- Bulent Arinc, President of the Turkish Parliament
- Muammer Guler, Governor of Istanbul
- Kadir Topbas, Metropolitian Mayor of Istanbul
- Kursat Tuzmen, Minister of State
- Nevzat Yalcintas, Parliament Member
- Mehmet Agar, DYP (Political Party) President
- Recai Kutan, SP (Political Party) President
- Yasar Okuyan, HP (Political Party) President
- Husamettin Cindoruk, Former Minister of National Education
- Melih Gokcek, Metropolitian Mayor of Ankara
- Osman Baydemir, Former Mayor of Diyarbakir
- Sinan Aygun, President of Ankara Trade Association
- Ali Mufit Gurtuna, Former Metropolitian Mayor of Istanbul
- Vehbi Dincerler, Former Minister of National Education
- Ishak Haleva, Chief Rabbi
- Luis Pelatre, Latin Catholic Spiritual Representative
- Monsigneor Georges Marovitch, Vatican Embassy Istanbul Representative
- Fermani Altun, President of the World Ehl-i Beyt Foundation
- Ravil Gaynuddin, Mufti of Russian Federation
- Sahak Masalyan, Secretary General/ Armenian Patriarchate of Turkey
- Ihsan Kalkavan
- Ayhan Bermek
- Zeynel Abidin Erdem
- Ahmet Ozhan
- Fatma Belgen
- Cem Kurdoglu
- Ibrahim Erkal
- Bulut Aras
- Tuluyhan Ugurlu
- Aysegul Atik
- Yusuf Sezgin
- Hasan Cihat Orter
- Ismail Turut
- Murat Gogebakan
- Fatih and Sebnem Kisaparmak
- Yasar Alptekin
- Fehmi Koru, Yeni Safak Newspaper
- Ali Bayramoglu, Yeni Safak Newspaper
- Nevval Sevindi, Zaman Newspaper
- Cengiz Candar, Bugun Newspaper
- Cüneyt Ulsever, Hurriyet Newspaper
- Abdurrahman Dilipak, Vakit Newspaper
- Hadi Ozisik, Internet News
- Mahmut Ovur, Sabah Newspaper
- Ahmet Hakan Coskun, Sabah Newspaper
- Avni Ozgurel, Radikal Newspaper
- Amberin Zaman, The Economist