70 Students from 23 Universities on 5 Continents Gather in Turkey to Reject Extremism, Embrace Intercultural Rapprochement

Egyptian, Tunisian, Moroccan, Emirati, Iraqi, Turkish, Israeli, Palestinian and Senegalese institutions join Western European and North and South American universities in third International University for Intercultural Leadership

Class of 2015 - Cappadocia
Class of 2015 – Cappadocia
Together against Extremism, for Peace: Istanbul opening of the International Summer University: from left to right: Abe Radkin, Enver Yucel, Habib Kazdaghli, Menachem Ben-Sossan, Mansour Alnogaidan, Ahmed Dizaei.
The city of Istanbul witnessed on Monday, July 20, the opening ceremony of the third year of the International Summer University for Intercultural Leadership, organized by the Paris-based Aladdin Project in partnership with Bahcesehir University, Mohammed V University of Rabat, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS, London University) within the framework of the European Commission’s Erasmus+ program.

Under the high patronage of UNESCO, 70 students from 23 universities in Europe, the Middle East, North and South America and Africa participate in a two-week program of lectures, workshops, group research and field studies on the topic of “The Power of Images: Truth, Manipulation and Intolerance.” The program takes place in the village of Sinasos in the heart of ancient Cappadocia in Turkey. The region has been a crossing point of cultures and faiths for millennia, with Judaism, Christianity and Islam all having strong historical connections to this ancient land that lies on the Silk Road and the Roman highway that connected Constantinople to Jerusalem.

High-level emissaries of the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Mayor of Istanbul joined the presidents and deans of several partner universities to address the students at a special ceremony at Bahcesehir University in Istanbul.

The opening ceremony began with words of welcome from Prof. Senay Yalcin, President of Bahcesehir University and Prof. Nilufer Gole, Chair of the Academic Committee. Abe Radkin, Executive Director of the Aladdin Project, outlined the program’s objectives and thanked the program’s partners, sponsors and the Municipality of Metropolitan Istanbul for its cooperation.
Enver Yucel, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Bahcesehir University, talked about the strategic importance of bringing young leaders from different countries and cultural horizons together.

In her message on the occasion of the opening of the third International University for Intercultural Leadership, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova emphasized the values that lie at the heart of this initiative at these turbulent times: tolerance, youth empowerment, and intercultural dialogue for peace and reconciliation.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu’s envoy Ambassador Kenan Ipek addressed the students on the topic of “Where is the 21st century headed: cooperation or clash of civilizations?”, while Prof. Ermen Tuncer, representing Istanbul Mayor Kadir Topbas, and Ambassador Gurcan Turkoglu, Chairman of the World Heritage Committee and Vice-President of the UNESCO National Commission in Turkey, spoke about the need to build bridges between cultures to overcome extremism, prejudice and hate.

Former Turkish Minister of Education Nimet Bas; Prof. Menachen Ben-Sasson, President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Mansour Alnogaidan, Director General of Al-Mesbar Center for Studies and Research in the United Arab Emirates; Prof. Ahmed Dizaei, President of the University of Salahaddin in Erbil (Iraqi Kurdistan); Prof. Habib Kazdaghli, Dean of the University of Tunis Manouba; Prof. Lucy Nusseibeh, Director of the Center for Media Studies at Al-Quds University and Prof. Khalid Bensrhir representing Prof. Saaïd Amzazi, President of Mohammed V University of Rabat were among the speakers at the opening ceremony.

The inaugural lecture, “Power of Images: A 21st Century Revolution,” was delivered by Prof. Nilufer Gole, Director of Studies at the Paris-based EHESS and Chair of the Academic Committee.
For two weeks, students will attend lectures by 15 distinguished scholars, filmmakers, photographers and curators and visit some of the historic sites in Cappadocia. They will also conduct research in teams that are made up of students from different countries and will submit their final project papers for evaluation by an international jury. The top three groups will receive their awards at a special ceremony in Paris.

Partners in the program are University of Sao Paulo (Brazil), Al-Mesbar Center (UAE), American University of Iraq; Salahaddin University in Erbil; University of Sapienza (Italy), New York University, Florida International University, Harvard University, Columbia University, Sciences Po Paris, Freie Universität Berlin, Geneva’s Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London), University of Mohammed V Rabat (Morocco), Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, Al-Quds University, University of Tunis Manouba, University of Ain Shams Cairo, University of Polytechnic of West Africa (Senegal), and the Universities of Bogaziçi, Bahcesehir and Kadir Has in Turkey.