Science and Culture at the Heart of Director-General’s Visit to Constantine

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© Alain Guilhot

On 12 April, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, took part in an event entitled “Journey through the lights of Ibn Al Haytham” at the University of Constantine I in Algeria. The event took place in the presence of the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Wali of Constantine and the Rector of the University and students.

“Science must build on a knowledge society, based on respect for diversity, access to education and freedom of expression,” said the Director-General. “Celebrating the science of light is also a reminder of the importance of building a cultural environment suitable for curiosity and innovation, pushing young talent to excel and innovate.”

“This city was designated as Capital of Arab Culture for 2015, and I wanted to be here to celebrate Arab culture in a tragic moment when Arab culture is under attack,” declared the Director-General, referring to the attacks against cultural sites in Iraq and the cultural cleansing that is persecuting minorities and their heritage at the same time. 

“These crimes are in total contradiction with the legacy of the Arab culture and the message of Islam, which is a message of tolerance, openness and peace,” she continued.

“Arab culture, like all living cultures, is strengthened renewed through dialogue and science,” said Irina Bokova. “This message has never been more important – and Constantine shows us the way.”

The Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research reiterated the gratitude of the Algerian authorities for Ms Bokova’s visit the city of Constantine.

“The City of the bridges is proud to be the Cultural capital for 2015 and serve as the bridge between light and culture” said the Minister in his opening remarks.  He further stated that “the presence of Ms Bokova has enlightened the city of Constantine and her official visit will certainly contribute to strengthen the longstanding cooperation between Algeria and UNESCO”.

On the same day, the Director-General visited the National Museum of Cirta and the Palace of Ahmed Bey, both located in Constantine.