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News, March 2008


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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.

Islamic Summit Opens in Dakar, Palestine Very Important Point on OIC Agenda

OIC Leaders Pledge Support for Palestinians

Arab News  

DAKAR, 14 March 2008 —

Senegal’s president, the new chairman of OIC, the world’s largest Muslim group, said yesterday he would make solving the long-standing Israeli-Palestinian crisis a priority for the organization.

“The just and legitimate cause of Palestine remains at the heart of our concerns,” Abdoulaye Wade told the leaders of dozens of Islamic nations at the OIC summit.

Wade called Israel “an occupying power” and urged its government to “immediately stop its disproportionate use of force.”

He added: “I should like to tell our Palestinian brothers and sisters of that your unity is the first priority of success .... Please unite.”

Addressing the summit, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal said, “Jerusalem should be at the center of any dialogue aimed at resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned Israel’s “inappropriate and disproportionate use of force” and called on the Jewish state to stop strikes that end up killing civilians. Highlighting the deaths of women and children in the Israeli attacks he said, “I condemn these acts and call on Israel to cease them.”

The Middle East has long been a core issue for OIC, which was founded in 1969 in response to an arson attack on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. The group aims to promote Islamic unity and serve as a voice for the Muslim world.

The Palestinian delegation declared the summit a success even before it began, saying it had garnered key support from fellow Muslims.

A declaration drafted by foreign ministers to be adopted by the summit “reinforces support and backs Palestine, and condemns Israel for what it is doing in Gaza,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki said.

— With input from agencies

OIC Summit has focused on decisive efforts

Dakar, March 13, IRNA

The 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world's second largest body after the United Nations, is holding its 11th Summit in the Senegalese capital Dakar today and tomorrow.

At least 33 heads of state, and nearly 5,500 delegates representing member countries and international organizations have attended the summit.

Saudi Arabia, which has the OIC's headquarters, has highlighted the summit's significance and hopes it will strengthen Muslim unity.

"The summit is being held at a time when Muslims in the world are suffering from challenges and hardship that demand collective efforts," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said upon departure to Dakar, Senegal.

The conference has discussed ways and means to combat poverty in the Muslim world and a proposal for a special program for the development of Africa.

The Arab-Israeli conflict, the worsening security situation in Iraq and the political crisis in Lebanon also figured high on the agenda.

The United States has decided to send an envoy to the OIC summit for the first time.

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki protested presence of the US representative owing to the US propaganda campaign against Muslims and the US blessings for Israeli crimes against civilians living in Gaza Strip and the Wes Bank.

OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, however, welcomed Washington's decision and hoped that it would contribute to improving US relations with the Islamic world.

"There are plenty of problems and misunderstandings. But still there is plenty of potential for cooperation," he said.

The US government said it had appointed Texas entrepreneur Sada Cumber to the OIC "to promote mutual understanding and dialogue between the US and Muslim communities." Ihsanoglu said the OIC's position on issues like the Palestine-Israel conflict is often misrepresented in the United States.

"We want (Cumber) to listen and learn," Ihsanoglu said.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the appointment of Cumber signals the deep respect for the values and ideals of Islam held by the US government and the American people.

"This appointment is one part of a much larger effort that our government has undertaken to increase our engagement with Muslim communities worldwide," she said.

Ihsanoglu said the Summit of leaders would also review the progress of the 10-Year Program of Action approved by the extraordinary Islamic summit in holy Mecca in December 2005.

The program includes restructure of the OIC, revising of the organization's charter and reactivation of its institutions.

A high-level panel has already revised the organization's charter which have been presented to the Summit of leaders for approval.

Under the program, serious efforts will be made to enhance the scope of political participation, ensure equality, civil liberties and social justice, and promote transparency and accountability, and eliminate corruption in member countries.

Ihsanoglu, who took charge as OIC secretary-general in January 2005, has played a significant role in strengthening the organization, the largest in the Muslim World.

The OIC, which was founded in 1969, aims to promote Islamic unity and serves as a voice for the Muslim world.

The OIC chief said a detailed report on Islamophobia, including the publication of cartoons blaspheming Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him), would be presented to summit of leaders.

The report is an attempt to comprehensively record anti-Islamic speech and action around the world.

"The Islamophobes remain free to carry on their assault due to absence of necessary legal measures against the misuse or abuse of the right to freedom of expression," charges the report.

Palestine very important point on OIC Summit agenda

Dakar, March 11, IRNA

The lot of the Palestinian people in conflict with Israel is 'a very important point' on the agenda of the 11th Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference taking place in Dakar on March 13-14.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a very important point of the Dakar Summit, according to Senegalese press agency, APS.

"I think that a strong message will be delivered to support the Palestinian people's inalienable right to found its own state, on its own land, with East Jerusalem as capital," the OIC secretary general said.

The experts of the 57 OIC member states have been meeting in Meridien hotel in Dakar since Saturday to prepare the two-day heads of state and government conference opening on Thursday.

Since 1975, Senegal has been the chair of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People established by the UN.

"The decision to hold the summit in Dakar was taken in Putrajaya (Malaysia) in 2003," Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu recalled, adding that 'the decision was made in appreciation of Senegal's leadership in Africa'.

"We cooperate with the Senegalese government, notably with the foreign minister, for this summit to be successful. And we will continue this cooperation process after the summit for better cooperation in the future," he added.

It is the second time Senegal is holding this summit. Dakar hosted an OIC summit in 1991.

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