In multicultural mardin, President Gul stresses peace and unity
During his first visit as president to the southeastern Anatolia province of Mardin yesterday, President Abdullah Gul said that with its rich historical and natural assets, the province is like an open-air museum. Receiving a warm welcome from locals holding banners in Turkish, Kurdish, Arabic and Syriac, Gul inaugurated the renovated governor's office there and addressed a crowd gathered outside, including elementary school students. With its traces of many religions and civilizations, Mardin's historic and natural assets are well protected, Gul said, and pledged even stronger efforts to preserve the city's treasures. Mardin has a rich cultural heritage, and maintaining this is our constitutional duty, Gul said. Stressing how people from various religious and ethnic backgrounds live together in peace in Mardin, Gul said that this coexistence should continue, and Mardin's atmosphere of tolerance should spread across Turkey. Accompanied by his wife Hayrunnisa, Gul also attended the opening of Artuklu University's main administration building, sponsored by the Istanbul Stock Exchange (IMKB), and a groundbreaking ceremony for its Economics and Business School, sponsored by Erdem Holding, a company owned by a Mardin-born businessman. Speaking at these ceremonies, Gul said the state can't do everything, and stressed the importance of philanthropy for building and improving universities across Turkey. Speaking at a ceremony marking the start of the new school year, Gul said Mardin would soon take its place on UNESCO's World Heritage List, and that Artuklu University would emerge as an important center for social science and humanities studies in the years to come. As Artuklu will offer language education programs in Kurdish, Persian and Syrian, said Gul, this will make it stand out from the crowd. Mardin, whose history dates back to 4,500 BC, has been home to various civilizations, each of which has left indelible aesthetic and cultural traces. The city is full of representations and symbols from specific historical eras. Mardin is situated on a scenic hill slope overlooking the Mesopotamian plains, and the external facades of the city's houses are ornamented like jewels.