OIC Summit kicks off
Friday, March 14, 2008
The Organization of the Islamic Conference summit has opened, yesterday, in Senegal's capital, Dakar. President Jammeh left early yesterday morning and was received at Dakar Airport by the Senegalese Prime Minsiter. The heads of state are discussing negative views of Islam, solidarity with poorer Muslim nations, and helping Palestinians.
A Senegalese teenager chanted verses of the Koran as the summit got underway in a plush Dakar hotel.
At the opening ceremony, Senegal's President Abdoulaye Wade was officially given the chairmanship from Malaysia, which hosted the last OIC gathering in 2003. Mr. Wade said he was honored that Dakar was for a few days the capital of Islam.
Senegal was to host the summit in 2006, but postponed it because the city could not be made ready in time. Despite this and early setbacks in bringing the Chadian and Sudanese presidents together for peace talks on the sideline of the meeting, President Wade remained optimistic.
He thanked all Muslims who had prayed for the conference, and assured them it would be a success.The octogenarian president went on to denounce Islamophobia, saying that acts of terrorism are not in line with Islam and calling for dialogue and tolerance from the non-Muslim world.
Mr. Wade also called for Palestinians and Israelis to enter a peace process. He emphasized the importance of respecting the human rights of Palestinian people.
In the crowded lobby of the conference center, delegation members in traditional dress from member countries such as Lebanon, Mali, Russia, and Pakistan drank tea and discussed the days' events.
One eager participant was Palestinian ambassador to Malaysia Abdelaziz Aboughosh, who has previously held a high position in the Organization of the Islamic Conference.
"In my experience as former assistant Secretary General of the OIC for Palestine and Jerusalem, I think the OIC is the Islamic global force supporting the important Islamic issues," said Aboughosh.
Aboughosh says he is pleased the situation in Palestinian territories is getting so much attention this year."It is one of the first issues that the summit tackles," he said. "The main issue is the support of the Muslim and OIC countries towards the peace initiative that Palestine is currently trying to achieve."
Missing from the proceedings were heads of state from the largest member countries, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who were among the largest donors for this summit.
The Organization of the Islamic Conference brings together delegates from 57 member countries, and says it represents more than 1.3 billion Muslims throughout the world.
"We have no other choice"
Declaring the summit opened, the Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade said that the Ummah states had no "other choice" by tackling Islam's part in the 21st century. "We have no other choice" by tackling this issue, Abdoulaye Wade said, calling the Ummah countries to think about the "challenges of globalisation."Wade stressed the need for an economic partnership and knowledge sharing among the OIC countries.There are "complex challenges," said the head of state, who cited the climate changes, earthquakes, thaw, tsunamis, etc.
In view of the deterioration of environment and disasters, Wade asked the states to beg for God's forgiveness. "We must beg for God's forgiveness for destroying this beautiful earth that he has left in our care."
Dwelling on the environment issue, Abdoulaye Wade called for "compliance" with the Kyoto Protocol, a key international environment protection instrument.
The adoption of a new OIC charter on the occasion the Dakar summit is intended to consolidate the institution's role, give it a new boost and strengthen its relations with the officially recognised NGOs in the member states.
The OIC foreign ministers, who met in Dakar, Tuesday, in preparation for this conclave, "practically" agreed on the organisation's revised charter expected to be adopted at the end of the Dakar meeting, Cheikh Tidiane Gadio revealed on the same day.
The revised charter has 99.99 percent chance to be adopted, the Senegalese senior foreign minister told a press conference jointly held with the OIC secretary-general, Ekmeldin Ishanoglu.
Senegalese leader Abdoulaye Wade, chairman of the 11th OIC session opened in Dakar, Thursday, suggested the establishment of a commission in charge of assessing and thinking about how to use for the Ummah the amounts generated by the interests borne by the deposits made by Islamic countries in Western banks.
The commission could be made up of academicians, Islamic legislation specialists and economists, the head of state said in his address pronounced at the opening of the Islamic Ummah meeting.
"We must not sit idly by and wait for the European economies to share these funds," but rather create the conditions necessary for these funds to be notably invested in Africa, he said.
"We would like Arab investments" to come to Africa, "the continent of the future," he indicated, calling his counterparts to make the economic, social and cultural relations between the OIC member countries equal to the links between them."The Islamic solidarity must not be only expressed" in the form of assistance to these countries, but also in the form of investments and partnerships.
According to President Wade, the "prohibited interests" generated by the deposits of Muslim countries in Western banks are estimated at about US$500 billion.
"This should not be a gift" to Western economies, all the more that the sudden emergence of Arab and Muslim investors on the European economic scene gives rise to "fear," he stressed.About the increase in prices of oil products, the head of sate also suggested his counterparts to see whether they could not make the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) allocate a poverty reduction fund 2 percent of the resources generated any price increase