With its multicultural, multi-religious lineup, Antakya's Civilization Choir has performed in and outside Turkey, sending a message of peace through its music and diversity.
The choir, which was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2012, recently performed at the 54th International Cherry Festival.
Conductor Yılmaz Özfırat told Anadolu Agency (AA) that the choir, supported by the Hatay Governorship, was founded by people from different religious, cultural and occupational groups in 2007.
The idea was to show the world that people can coexist in peace and harmony, Özfırat said. "There was only one idea: Love the creatures for the sake of God. We have performed in more than 400 concerts in the U.S., France and other countries all over the world under the auspices of our president. Our choir comprises of 200 people now," he added.
Turkey is a good example to display and promote civilization around the world
Özfırat said that all humans are God's creation regardless of their religions. "The Antakya Civilization Choir was founded to prevent misrepresentation of our country abroad. When we go abroad, we see people think only bad things happen in Turkey. We show them that we live in harmony here. Alevi or Sunni; Turkish or Kurdish, we are all brothers here."
People say they 'misunderstood Turkey'
"After the concerts, people come up to us and say they have all along misunderstood Turkey," Özfırat said. "It is important to embrace minorities like they did in the Ottoman culture. I think we are a beautiful society that truly represents this spirit and can show this to the world. People abroad change their minds about Turkey after enjoying our concerts. We tell them you should visit Turkey and see for yourself. In our country, you can see churches, mosques and synagogues all at the same time. People can pray and practice their religions freely." He added that they were happy to transfer the country's culture to other people through music.
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