Director General Prof. Halit Eren’s note on the Centre’s activities during the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak

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Humanity is experiencing one of the worst global crises of its history as the COVID-19 pandemic strikes lives, public health and economy and threatens security and development in all countries.

In its capacity as the cultural research centre of the OIC, and as an intergovernmental organization engaged in promoting international cultural cooperation, IRCICA follows the pandemic’s consequences in the academic, educational, artistic and other spheres of life in its Member States and elsewhere. Accordingly, our Centre has been redirecting and reshaping some of its activities scheduled for the present period in a way supportive of the global effort against the pandemic. This orientation is prompted by the very mandate of IRCICA which is an integral part of the OIC’s mission to foster cooperation and coordination among its Member States in situations of humanitarian emergencies, as stipulated in the OIC Charter. Therefore, while carrying on with activities foreseen in its work program, IRCICA introduces, or gives renewed emphasis to, specific themes and aspects of its fields of work that underline issues relevant in the context of the pandemic. By this it aims, among others, to diffuse scholarly information and generate cultural awareness that would help to reinforce the moral strength and sense of universal coexistence of humanity and solidarity of all peoples of the world irrespective of cultural, religious, ethnic or national identities or geographical locations.

In particular, themes relating to history of international and inter-cultural relations, the shared memories in the histories of different civilizations, the contributions of regional cultures to world civilization, knowledge and science, including the fields of medicine and public health, among others, that were dealt with through IRCICA’s multifarious projects over the past forty years, have now acquired renewed significance. We are planning to bring them to the fore under fresh light and from standpoints relevant in the present context. This effort can input positive ingredients to the acknowledgement and realization of international and inter-cultural relations across the world. It can help to reinforce public consciousness for solidarity in the face of the present common threat to human survival. Furthermore, international meetings, academic projects and consultations that IRCICA will organize in various fields of its mandate can also produce insights and guidance on the new orientations that research in social sciences, and particularly history of culture and Islamic studies, will acquire in the aftermath of the pandemic.

In implementing these activities, we are making the largest possible use of online resources, facilities and technologies available and further expanding our Centre’s existing online portals and documentation systems, including those already in operation through its library and archive departments. IRCICA’s regular activities such as workshops, panels and training courses will be conducted online. Conferences on history and Islamic studies that were planned to be organized in the first half of 2020 in different regions of the OIC membership area are now being prepared anew for video conferencing; they will be announced in due time. Meanwhile, IRCICA’s training program on the art of calligraphy continues through video conferencing, with weekly courses taught by three master calligraphers. 25 trainees from 14 countries are participating in the courses and practicing in the different styles of calligraphy through the traditional master-to-pupil teaching method. Besides the activities organized online, our Centre continues to publish its scheduled books and periodicals. We shall publish briefs on the progress of our activities through the website and other channels.

Our heartfelt wish is that world community overcomes the present crisis urgently, heals the wounds it is causing in all spheres of life, and takes the due lessons from it conducive to sincere understanding, justice and equality and fair cooperation between all peoples in sharing life in this World.

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