On March 9th, 2012, at the Omer Ersoy Cultural Center in Gaziantep, Turkey, Dr. Helen McConnell and Mufti Dr. Ali Bakkal led a presentation on Compassion in Islam. McConnell represented the newly formed Charter for Compassion and one of its programs, Compassionate Cities. At the end of the conference, a protocol was signed by then-Mayor Dr. Asim Güzelbey, affirming the Charter, adding Gazantiep to the growing list of compassionate cities; there were eight at the time, and making it the first city in the Muslim World to sign the Charter for Compassion. At this same gathering, Prof. Dr. Mesut Idriz, Head of the Center for Intercultural Dialogue and Education, signed the protocol making Gazikent University the very first institution of its kind to affirm the Charter. The title of the event was Gaziantep, a City of Mercy. This day was monumental in the history of the Charter.
On February 6, 2023, Gaziantep and areas surrounding it and in nearby Syria were brought to their knees as a 7.8-magnitude earthquake hit the area. As I write this, the official death toll is over 7,800 people, with thousands more feared dead. The City of Mercy is now looking for mercy, goodness, and compassionate action beyond its own borders.
According to the British Broadcasting Company:
National governments of many countries - including the UK, the US, China and Russia - are providing aid, including search and rescue experts.
In the UK, the British Red Cross was one of the country's first major charities to launch its appeal. It is working in conjunction with the Turkish Red Crescent and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, and is already on the ground "providing urgent support during these critical hours" and evacuating people to safety.
Oxfam is another large charity to have launched an appeal. It said it would focus on providing "protection, water and sanitation, shelter and food", while also assessing the longer-term needs of people in the aftermath of so much destruction.
Organizations including Save the Children, Unicef and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) have all launched appeals following the earthquake.
If you can, consider donating to any of the above organizations. The Charter has also set up an appeal on our Facebook page.
With warm regards,