Paris UNESCO April 25, 2013
Arab culture resists time
Your Excellency Ms Irina Bokova,Director-General of Unesco, Your Highness Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan al Qassimi, Mr. Chairman and Members of the International Jury, team prize, Excellencies Ladies and Gentlemen Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen Presidents of Universities, Dear colleagues and friends, August assembly, I greet you respectfully.
I would like to thank UNESCO and the Sharjah Emirate for this high distinction which does me honor and through my person, honors my country Algeria. The prestigious Unesco Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture and the Dialogue of cultures rewards today my tireless career over the past thirty years and my vocation as an intellectual, intermediary between the two shores. This international recognition reflects the expression of the basic and noble principles of the Unesco-Culture of Peace, in harmony with my country’s Arab culture and heritage values that inspire my work : any culture for the future that touches the hearts and the reason is a culture of dialogue, mutual knowledge and coexistence.
I have a thought for the great iconic figure that enlightens my path, Emir Abdelkader El-Djazairi, Father of the renaissance of Arab culture, chivalrous and humanist. He replied that he had saved thousands of Christians in Damascus “by loyalty to the Muslim faith and to respect the rights of humanity”. I can say that for these reasons I work for the promotion of the Arab-Muslim culture and the intercultural understanding among peoples. Constantly weaving links between cultures, I have been teaching that living together is possible.
What future for the Arab culture in the twenty-first century? Such is the theme of our ceremony. My answer is meant direct and clear: Arab culture resists time and represents an opportunity to roll back the standardization. Its strengths lie in its sense of loyalty to the roots, of the openness to the world and respect for diversity. It is meant to be a culture of ethics and transversality,which draws in monotheism, humanism and ancestral. It reminds us of our common sources and meets the fundamental aspiration for a free and dignified life. Arab culture allows us to assert ourselves as we want. It proposes the revival, renewal and interpretation, its version of the truth of existence, to return the human being to the first wholeness.
Yesterday crucible of a revolution in speech and writing, it was a bridge between the old word and the modern world, between East and West, our common civilization was Islamo- Judeo-Christian and Greco- Arab. Tomorrow, if we keep listening to the plurality, if we know how to be up to the Arab culture, hyphen which articulates authenticity and progress, which calls up to the respect for equal dignity and magnifies brotherhood and hospitality, we shall reinvent a universal civilization that is lacking today.
Arab culture bases itself on the idea of the median community, umatou el wassat and the universal man, al insan al kamil, to realize living together. It reflects the ability to rise. This involves the effort of opening and the recognition of differences as richness. Arab culture integrates the variety of inside and that from the outside.
For Arab culture, it is to keep alive the full meaning of existence, where Heaven and Earth are in harmony, where the local combines with globality, where the individual and the community are not opposed, where we educate in the culture of peace and in acceptance of reasonable disagreement. Especially as the Arab culture belongs to multiple horizons. History shows it: African, Berber, Asian, and European. Its language, its literature, and lifestyle, show an inexhaustible sense of the synthesis of the world.
We have to think of our culture with the others, in order to examine through dialogue how to resist to dehumanization ,to commodification and to extremism. The reference which remains valid does not consists in what a single world wants, but in what together we can recognize as universal purposes. To practice the Intercultural, to foster diversity is a factor of human progress. In a confused world, it is this path of emulation for the common good, in which the Arab culture invites us.
Thank you for your attention