Amira Sonbol, Professor of History at Georgetown University, sharing her experience in Turkey

 My name is Amira Sonbol. I am a professor at Georgetown University, the Center for Muslim Christian Understanding. I teach Middle East History, therefore I know a lot about Turkey and a lot about the Ottoman Empire, since that’s what I teach. So I am familiar with Turkey and have been here several times, but I have never seen Turkey the way I have seen Turkey this time. Thanks to the wonderful invitation, in particular to Ali, who is quite an amazing man. We have seen a Turkey that I know Turkey is the leader of the Middle East, and I do hope that it begins to think the rest of the Arab world as a possible partner in the future. I was also very impressed with the Gulen Movement. I didn’t know anything about it. I knew about him, I knew about the RumiForum and I had no idea, and I want to learn much much more. This is something that worthwhile looking into and I intend to make a point of doing so.

The beauty of Turkey is just; everybody here will tell you, it is an outstanding country. It is many countries in one. It is not just one country. The monuments were so diverse; I mean we saw I think the things; the caves we saw are prehistoric. We’ve seen Christian Turkey, we’ve seen Muslim Turkey, we’ve seen Roman Turkey, Byzantine Turkey, we’ve seen the Seljuk Turkey, I love the Seljukis. I am one of the few people like Seljukis, and I was very excited to see Seljuki monuments. We saw a Caravanserai for the first time in my life; I have been describing it to my students forever. This time I have seen a real full complete Caravansary. So yes Turkey is Istanbul and Istanbul is an enchanting city but I think the rest of Turkey is something that that is worthwhile to spending the time; and the busses and the rides and the swollen feet to achieve (laughs). Thank you very very much. I have only good stuff to say. We have eaten and we are all overweight from this great trip and very generous very nice people…

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