CALL FOR TOLERANCE AT JOURNALISTS AND WRITERS FOUNDATION IFTAR

Today's Zaman
Sept 15 2009
Turkey

The traditional iftar (fast-breaking meal) of the Journalists and
Writers Foundation (JWF) was held at Istanbul's Grand Cevahir Hotel
on Sunday, and representatives of the Abrahamic religions were among
the guests.

"Children of This Land" was the slogan of the dinner, referring to
the importance of solidarity and tolerance between different religions.

Starting with a concert by a musical group, the program continued with
a speech by Mustafa YeÅ~_il, the head of the GYV. YeÅ~_il complained
about the lack of dialogue between religions, despite the effects of
globalization and said: "We have had great progress in our dialogue
efforts. The prejudices have been replaced by understanding and
knowing the 'other' and the meaning of 'other' is changed to the
'children of this land'."

Georges Marovitch, the Vatican's representative in Istanbul
and spokesman for the leaders of Turkey's Catholics, attended the
iftar. Commenting on the influence of Ramadan, he stated that it brings
the different religions closer together and extended his gratitude to
Fethullah Gulen, the honorary head of the foundation, for putting great
effort into establishing a dialogue platform for the various religions.

Depicting the iftar, in which representatives of different religious
leaders gathered on the same table, as paramount, Turkey's chief rabbi,
Ä°shak Haleva, said understanding between people would be possible if
only people listened to each other. He added, "The children of this
land were raised in this land, but they will transcend the oceans
and reach out to every corner of the world."

Gulen sent a message to the iftar, saying despite being far from
Turkey, he felt the atmosphere of Ramadan and hoped that Turkey would
overcome its problems as soon as possible.

Along with many journalists, representatives of the Greek Orthodox,
Syrian Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Armenian Orthodox and Roman
Catholic communities attended the iftar.