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OIC chief says new anti-Islamophobia approach needed

of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu

The Feb. 6-7 Islamic
summit in Cairo will deal with major challenges facing the Muslim
world including the Syrian crisis, the Palestinian issue and Rohingya
and Mali issues, said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the
Organization of Islamic Cooperation.

Cairo summit is significant as it comes at a crucial time and will
deal with major challenges facing the Muslim world,” Ihsanoglu told
Arab News in an exclusive interview at OIC headquarters in Jeddah
yesterday. He said all OIC countries would attend the summit.

He said the Cairo summit,
which has been delayed by two years because of political developments
in the region, is timely. “During the last two years many things
have taken place in the Muslim world. There were political uprisings,
the downfall of dictatorial regimes and the democratization process
that has been going through difficult times,” Ihsanoglu said.

He said the two-day
summit would discuss the war in Syria, the new fighting in Mali and
other challenging issues. “We expect to have clear guidelines and a
unified position on all these issues from the summit.”

The OIC chief said
Islamophobia would also figure high on the summit agenda. “We are
facing new threats of Islamophobia and we need to have a new approach
in dealing with such cases,” he pointed out.

Ihsanoglu, who has played
a big role in dealing with Islamophobia in the West, said: “We have
managed to get important diplomatic successes, through UN Human
Rights Council and UN General Assembly. We have managed to convince
Western countries to cooperate with us and agree on a consensual text
dealing with stereotyping and attacks on Islam and the Prophet (peace
be upon him).”

He said the OIC is now in
the process of devising legal instruments to deal with Islamophobia.
“At the same time we continue our efforts to mobilize international
support to deal with the issue. We want to mobilize the highest
possible political support not only from OIC countries but also from
the West,” he added.

He also spoke about OIC’s
efforts to protect Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar who are facing ethnic
cleansing. “I have received an invitation from the Myanmar
government and would like to visit the country before the Cairo
summit and I am waiting for their reply,” he added.

fact-finding OIC mission visited Myanmar last September to
investigate the violence against Rohingya Muslims in the Rakhine

Asked about OIC’s
efforts to solve the Syrian conflict, the secretary-general said: “We
are cooperating with the international community. We support the plan
of UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and we are looking forward to a peaceful

Ihsanoglu, who took
charge as the ninth secretary-general of the 57-member organization
in January 2005, has been instrumental in strengthening the OIC with
the support of member countries.

He coordinated the
drafting and implementation of a reform program for the OIC aiming to
increase its efficiency and effectiveness. The reform program’s
components included the “Ten-Year Program of Action to Face the
Challenges of Twenty-first Century” and a revised OIC Charter,
which was adopted by the 11th Islamic Summit in 2008.

Ihsanoglu gave the credit
of OIC’s successes to his team. “It is the outcome of a teamwork
and I am blessed to have very good colleagues, particularly from the
younger generation. They are working very well.”

He also spoke about the
marvelous design for OIC’s new headquarters in Jeddah. “It is the
outcome of an international competition. About 100 design firms from
all over the world took part in the contest and we selected the best
with the help of an expert jury. I am sure it will become an icon of
Jeddah,” he said.

The OIC has received
construction permit for the new headquarters. It was handed to
Ihsanoglu by Jeddah Mayor Hani Abu Ras. Covering an area of 91,500
sq. meters, the new cone-shaped building will be located in Khuzam
Gardens. It will have a big conference hall.

During the meeting
Ihsanoglu and Abu Ras witnessed a detailed presentation of the
project and its specifications. They also viewed video clips and an
explanation of the project, delivered by Zuhair Faiz Company for
Architectural Consultancies.

The secretary-general
thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah for his
support to the project, which will become an important edifice in the
Islamic world. He also thanked the Saudi government for its continued
support to OIC’s activities. 

Source Arab News: