A new centre in west Ottawa is focused on bringing together people from multiple religions to help foster discussion and respect.
The Intercultural Dialogue Centre opened in Kanata Saturday after work by Turkish-Islamic scholar Edip Yavuz Zeybek.
Zeybek, also chairman of the group Intercultural Dialogue Ottawa, helped organize the $3 million building with funding from Turkish Canadians and other sources.
The red and white stucco building, which is Mediterranean-inspired, will contain meeting rooms, a large banquet hall and a prayer space.
“We are very respectful to anyone who has any kind of ideas to hear the stories,” said Zeybek. “To hear the exchange between us is extremely important.”
Zeybek said the centre will host discussion groups and conferences to help Muslims, Jews and Christians learn more about each other. He said the idea started several years ago with informal dinners with people from various religions.
“I think this commitment to community building through very simple means … I think these are simple ways to promote tolerance, mutual respect and friendship,” said Katherine Clifford, a theology professor at Saint Paul University who also sits on the dialogue centre’s advisory board.
Zeybek said he would like the interfaith movement to go even further, with a synagogue, church and mosque in the same space for multi-faith prayer