Mr. President, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As we approach the third millennium we witness the amazing revolution in communications whereby culture seems to have assumed a new role. Today culture is no more the main component of civilisation but a weapon used by the technologically advanced to change life styles, concepts and identities of those less advanced, thus making it a means to dominate societies who in the past had thought distances could not only secure their borders but safeguard their identities. Culture has become an added weapon in usurping the pride of a people in their historical roots and is evident in Palestine today during the current uprising in the West Bank and Gaza. Hence IRCICA has been given an added dimension. During the past two decades IRCICA, under the relentless, dedicated, able direction of Professor Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, has been able to serve Islamic civilisation which, at present, is the longest surviving active civilisation, in various spheres, including identification, research, conservation and revival. For more than a decade it has become a bastion for Islamic cultures from Southeast Asia to the Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, the Middle East and North and Sub-Saharan Africa. Its activities embrace traditional Islamic arts of and from the past as well as living arts and crafts of the present, thus forming a means of orientation for Islam, a bridge that would close the gap of ignorance with other cultures and an instrument for preserving our identity without xenophobia, bigotry, or isolation. On behalf of IRCICA’s Governing Board and with a lot of humility and a touch of pride, I thank the Turkish Government and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference for their continued backing in the past and ask them to increase their support in the future so that IRCICA can carry on as the major cultural institution of the Islamic world whose work is reaching the minds and hearts of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.