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OIC must match its words with deeds
By Mohammed A. R. Galadari marg@khaleejtimes.com
18 October 2003

I HAVE been watching different Arab TV channels since the opening of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) summit in Malaysia.

I follow the sessions of the conference because the coverage given by the Arab TV satellite channels is intensive and comprehensive. Moreover, the channels conduct interviews, on the sidelines of the conference, with important Islamic personalities who shed light on the issues which the conference discusses.

A number of Arab TV stations have interviewed some important leaders who stressed the need for boosting the role of the OIC in an effective manner.  It is very important in the present circumstances to strengthen the role of the OIC as the anti-Islamic trend has taken a nasty turn in the West. The anti-Islamic trend has been described by the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as anti-Islam. He warned the West against backlash as its dealings with Islam and Muslims have become intolerable.

The UN chief was very clear in his observation, especially the UN Charter underlines in its first Articles that all countries are equal in the organisation irrespective of race or religion or the language. Whatever the conference objectives are, the OIC summit should turn into an active body and live up to the expectations of its people particularly after the emergence of an anti-Islamic trend in the West,

The OIC meetings should not be confined to the formal or protocol procedures or tackling the Islamic issues in a superficial manner, but should act positively. The OIC needs to set up committees consisting of important personalities who carry weight in world politics. The committees should be assigned the duty of following up and executing the recommendations spelled out by the conference with the aim of facing the challenges and the campaign launched in the West against Islam and Muslims.

Other duties of the committees should include mapping a unified media vision to explain what the real Islam is, and confront another wicked media which had been working and still making intensive efforts to tarnish the image of the real Islam. The committees should also explain to the world that it is utterly wrong to link religion with persons or organizations, whose activities are termed violent.

Those who have acted violently are similar to those who hit hard in Oklahoma as well as other groups who attacked some churches and schools, but the media in the West did not mention their religions but only their names. Eminent Muslim scholars should explain what Islam is. Those scholars are found in the East as well as in the West, particularly Westerners who embraced Islam. Some experts in Islam are Christian. This shows that Islam with its intrinsic values and tenets is capable of rebutting all the charges levelled against and attempts aimed at distorting the image of Islam.

These attempts were summarized by a senior official, whom I met in a Muslim country. He said the image of Islam in the West is that the religion contradicts democracy and generates extremism and violence. ' Islam is contrary to the modern civil life and modernization,' he said.

There is no doubt that this is absolutely wrong because the real and authentic teachings of Islam, as revealed in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, shun violence, accept non-Muslims, call for peaceful-co-existence, tolerance, encourage scientists and scholars. Islamic teachings and Sunnah also underscore democracy, Shura (consultation), which is based on the principle of exchanging views.

Muslims who denounce these teachings are regarded atheists, disobeying the commandments of God, and they deserve punishment.  The OIC should also work hard at this crucial time and form political committees to discuss important political issues of international concern and how to solve them. These committees should also create a mechanism for diplomatic coordination and cooperation among the member states, and help each and every country to solve the problems it may face. This will help clear the hurdles and make the West understand that Islam and Muslims are innocent. This will also make the West to correct the wrong ideas it has about Islam. The West must have forgotten the era when Muslims mixed and lived with all other religions in peace, friendship and tolerance under the rule of the Islamic state.  The West must also have forgotten that how non-Muslims lived under the Islamic rulers where there was no repression or discrimination between the citizens. The people in the countries ruled by Muslims hundreds of years ago had not been forced to convert into Islam and they were allowed to follow their own faith and they had never complained about injustice or discrimination.

Although I do appreciate the present secretary general of the organisation and his efforts, I, however, believe that the OIC should select a political personality of international standard to chair the organisation. The Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad is the right person to hold this position. He could lead the organization with his charismatic leadership and international stature. Mahathir, who will retire at the end of this year, is competent, thoughtful and has a clear vision and enjoys excellent global reputation.

Readers' response may be forwarded to marg@khaleejtimes.com - 20.10.2003.

Submitted by: Mohamed Fudzail <fudzail@yahoo.com>

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