It is with great pleasure that I extend my warmest greetings to all those attending the 2009 Turkish Festival of Quebec. This festival, now in its third edition, offers a chance for visitors to celebrate the ancient heritage and warm hospitality of Turkish culture. I am certain that this event -featuring traditional music performances and art displays, and exquisite culinary specialities- will be a remarkable reflection of Turkish pride. I would like to commend the members of the Dialog Foundation for their efforts in organizing this popular festival, and I would like to thank all of the participants and vendors involved in this year’s event for making it such a success. On behalf of the Government of Canada, please accept my best wishes for an enjoyable and memorable festival.
Thank you for the honour of being a guest on your July 2009 trip to Turkey. It enabled me to see an unexpected side of your country that I could not have seen as a regular tourist. Although we had the opportunity to experience significant tourist sites (Ayasofia, the Blue Mosque, Rumi’s tomb, Cappadocia), this was really a trip focused on the Gülen movement, its people and its institutions. I have returned home with a greater appreciation of Turkish culture, hospitality, food (especially the food), as well as the tensions between secular and religious life, and the beauty of a place that sits between East and West, truly at the centre of the world. There is no doubt the Turkey deserves our ongoing attention. I thank you for enabling me to experience its beauty and complexity.
At the end of July 2009, I joined Fehmi Kala of the Montreal DialogFoundation and four Canadians from Montreal and Edmonton on the annual cross cultural visit to Turkey. I was drawn to this, and more generally to the DialogFoundation, by a common interest in enabling people of different faith traditions to leant to know and understand each other, a process which I believe is vital for the future peace and stability of our world. For this I am thankful to DialogFoundation, its Turkish partner BAKiAD and the many business men and others who sponsored our stay, our meals and our visits to sites and museums.
I wish to extend my warmest wishes to the Congregation and to the Dialog Foundation, including its Executive Director Fehmi Kala, as you gather at a Friendship event featuring Noah’s Pudding as a gesture of solidarity in a spirit of peace, dialogue , diversity and multiculturalism. As Fehmi put it: “Noah’s Pudding symbolizes the ultimate richness and diversity representing Quebec and Canada. It symbolizes different cultures living together peacefully in harmony while preserving original identities. Noah’s Pudding is not a melting pot; since the ingredients are not melted and they all preserve their unique tastes. Each of the ingredients preserves its unique taste but it is also a part of the whole wonderful taste.”
May Friendship events like this one multiply across communities. Kol hakavod. May you go from strength to strength.