The United Arab Emirates, UAE, has called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, to set up a mechanism that handles issues of terrorism, extremism and hate speech.
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, made the proposal while delivering today the keynote address at the Forty-Sixth Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers, CFM, of Member States, in Abu Dhabi.
Sheikh Abdullah, Chairman of the 46th CFM Session, said the mechanism would take tough measures against any forms of terrorism and extremism and demand that OIC member states cease direct or indirect support to entities or individuals involved in terrorism and extremism or providing safe shelters, and harbouring, financing or assisting them.
”Abu Dhabi is hosting the high-level meeting on 1st and 2nd March, 2019, under the theme “50 Years of Islamic Cooperation: Roadmap for Prosperity and Development”.”The CFM coincides with the celebration of the OIC’s 50th anniversary this autumn which provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the OIC’s work and its core principles and values.
We are confident that the meeting will produce outcomes that will enable the Islamic World to overcome its challenges and build a more promising future,” he said.
Sheikh Abdullah thanked the friendly Republic of Bangladesh, the chairman of the 45th CFM Session, for its valuable efforts and effective role during the session which contributed to its success.
He also welcomed the External Affairs Minister of India, Sushma Swaraj, who is attending the opening ceremony as a Guest of Honour, giving the fact that India has a world heavy political weight and owns a rich cultural and civilisational legacy as well as an important Islamic component.
On behalf of the OIC, Sheikh Abdullah also lauded the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdul Azizi of Saudi Arabia, and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, for their efforts to support Islamic solidarity and unity so as to deliver the OIC’s goals.
He also thanked Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, the OIC Secretary General, for his sincere efforts to bolster joint cooperation and coordination so as to implement the OIC’s goals and principles.
Sheikh Abdullah said, ”The current CFM meeting is being convened at a time when the world is witnessing a series of important regional and international transformations, which place us before a challenge to cope with them in order to realise aspirations of our peoples and preserve our national security.” ”The OIC was founded to address the Palestinian cause and the issue of the holy city of Jerusalem, and therefore we reiterate our support and standing behind the Palestinian people in its quest to enjoy its legitimate rights, the foremost of them is to establish its independent state with Jerusalem as its capital in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative and international legitimacy resolutions. We also reiterate our support for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, and the need for the international community to honour its commitments towards the Palestinian Cause and the Palestinian refugees.” ”Islam is a religion of tolerance, peace and safety and calls for centralism, renounces extremism and terrorism and urges for sincere work in the service of our countries. Therefore, the UAE views heightening security tensions, particularly continuous conflicts, the spread of radical ideology and terrorism in the world at the hands of outlawed groups that have lost human values and acted under the cloak of religion, continuing their interference in internal affairs of other states and non-respect for sovereignty. We need to confront these challenges which dealt severe damage to the Islamic World, its gains and civilizational legacy and hamper realisation of the development that our people aspire for.
”We call for adopting necessary measures against all forms of terrorism and extremism through the media, including a study to form a mechanism to address these issues with resoluteness and to cease providing direct or indirect support to entities and individuals involved in terrorism and extremism and refrain from harbouring them, offering them safe haven, financing or assisting them.” In this context, Sheikh Abdullah said the UAE has adopted 2019 as the “Year of Tolerance” as part of its sincere efforts to promote the culture of tolerance, peaceful coexistence, respect for cultural and religious diversity and human values. Towards that end, the UAE hosted the “Human Fraternity Meeting” which assembled His Holiness Pope Francis, Head of the Catholic Church, and Dr. Ahmad el Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar Al Sharif, which concluded on 4th February with the signing of the historic joint declaration of good intentions which calls for the believers of God and the human fraternity to work together to promote the document as a guide for the next generations to maintain the culture of mutual respect in an environment that gives thanks to God’s grace and considers all peoples as brothers.
The top UAE diplomat said, “From this platform, we repeat our call to Iran to reconsider its policies with regard to building friendly relations with its neighbours based on non-interference in internal affairs. Iran is also demanded to stop its efforts to destabilise the region by spreading chaos and fuelling sectarian disputes and refrain from supporting groups that add fuel to conflict and stop sponsoring, financing and arming terror militias and organisations which brazenly violate the United Nations Charter and other noble human values.
“The economic and social deterioration is one of the daunting challenges facing the OIC Member States,” he noted. ”The successful model of the UAE makes us believe that the wise leadership, sincere work to realise prosperity and shape of the future are factors that make nations and protect them from wars. Therefore, our country is keen to adopt a foreign policy that includes developmental, humanitarian and cultural dimensions to assist Islamic countries and contribute in their efforts to deliver sustainable development goals.” “We are confident that inter-OIC economic and trade relations considers one of the tools that supports economic and social development through provision of guarantees and incentives that encourage movement of capital and investment and removes customs barriers applied on exports and imports, including prospects for investment in joint projects, especially in areas of agricultural production, energy, education, health and tourism as well as in building of manpower capabilities,” Sheikh Abdullah told the two-day OIC meeting.
“We also commend the progress achieved by women and efforts to empower them as the bedrock in the development process and their participation in all walks of life,” he added.
Sheikh Abdullah noted that as the world is experiencing transformation, threats and risks that could threaten the stability and development of states, it is important to take care of the youth, their education and raising them on noble values and help them gain knowledge because upbringing and enlightenment remain two key factors to realise prosperity. He urged people to observe core values that Islam preaches such as generosity, tolerance and patience.
”My country is looking forward to the smooth implementation of the ‘OIC-2025: Programme of Action’ in key areas of priority in sciences and technology; innovation; education; renewable; health, empowerment of women and youth and maximising their abilities to help their communities be strong and coherent leading to safe, secure and stable countries,” he added.
Sheikh Abdullah emphasised the need for the OIC to play a greater role in safeguarding international peace and security and consolidate regional and international cooperation so it can meet its prime goals as stated in the first article of its charter.
As chairman of the current session, Sheikh Abdullah also sought assistance and support from the secretary-general so as to enable the OIC’s efforts in preserving peace and security effectively and this requires taking quick measures for reforming the OIC so as to play its aspired role properly in enhancing joint Islamic action.
Islamic action In his opening speech, Abulkalam Abdul Momen, Bangladesh Foreign Minister and outgoing Chair of the OIC, said Bangladesh’s leadership in the OIC was guided by the principles of peace, prosperity and development.
“Our emphasis was “Islamic values for Sustainable Peace, Solidarity and Development.” For, the pursuit of eternal Islamic values alone such as fraternity, justice, moderation and compassion can show us the way forward. Let us assure the new chair UAE our full cooperation and support and wish UAE success in the forthcoming session of the CFM,” he added.
The session saw Bangladesh handing over the presidency to the UAE and the election of the new Board. The UAE will chair the CFM, assisted by Afghanistan, Uganda and Palestine as Vice Chairs and Bangladesh as a Rapporteur.
Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, the OIC Secretary General, delivered a speech where he thanked the leadership and people of the UAE for the warm hospitality. He added that the session is being held after the UAE celebrated the ‘Year of Zayed’, which was an opportunity to remember with pride the deeds of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and his noble services to his people and to the Muslim nations.
“Under its wise leadership, the UAE is currently undergoing massive progress in all fields and is confidently striding to a more stable and prosperous future.”
He thanked the previous CFM Chair Bangladesh for the efforts made during that tenure. He also thanked Saudi Arabia for continuous support as the host country of the OIC.
Al-Othaimeen said that Palestine remains the leading issue of concern for the OIC. He renewed support to the Palestinian people’s struggle to regain the legitimate tights, including the right to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital under the two-state solution.
He also underlined the organisation’s ongoing efforts to counter misconceptions about Islam through its initiatives to reject Islamophobia.
Al-Othaimeen also warned of the perils of violent extremism and terrorism as a scourge that undermines regional peace and security and leads to loss of innocent lives due to acts by groups and individuals that are alien to Islam.
He reiterated the OIC’s keenness on the peace and stability of Iraq and expressed relief over the positive developments there, including the elimination of the Daesh terrorist group.
The OIC Secretary-General announced that during 2019, the organisation will mark its 50th anniversary with a celebration in its headquarters in Saudi Arabia.
He thanked Egypt for hosting the OIC festival which was held in February 2018 under the theme: “One Nation, Various Culture, Palestine in Our Hearts.”
Al-Othaimeen also revealed that the OIC will participate in EXPO Dubai 2020 and urged members states to take part in this important event.
Sushma Swaraj, External Affairs Minister of India and the Guest of Honour, said in her speech that she was proud to be invited to this conference.
“I am honoured to join my colleagues from nations that represent a great religion and ancient civilisations. I stand here as a representative of a land that has been for ages a fountain of knowledge, a beacon of peace, a source of faiths and traditions, home to many religions – and now, one of the major economies of the world.”
She added, “I carry the greetings of my Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji and 1.3 billion Indians, including more than 185 million Muslim brothers and sisters. Our Muslims brothers and sisters are a microcosm of the diversity of India. They speak Tamil and Telugu, Malayalam and Marathi, Bangla and Bhojpuri and any of the numerous languages of India.”
Swaraj also expressed deep appreciation to Sheikh Abdullah “for his sagacious leadership and for his invitation.”
“In the past four years, few relationships have seen as much engagement, as India’s relationship with UAE and, indeed, with the entire Gulf and West Asia Region. It is a return of history. The UAE has shown, how a nation can power its progress, with a grand vision, with the openness to the world, with an embrace of technology, with investment in human resources and with an environment that nurtures talent and cultures from around the world.”
At the end of the session, Sheikh Abdullah and the heads of delegations performed Friday prayer at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. He then hosted a lunch.