Scores of heads of state and government from Muslim countries came for the summit whose agenda includes a ten-year plan for ‘Unity and Solidarity for Justice and Peace’. Turkey’s Erdogan reserves special welcome for Saudi King Salman. The Palestinian question and the Sunni-Shia sectarian rift are among the unresolved issues to address.
Istanbul (AsiaNews) – The 13th Summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is currently underway at the Istanbul Congress Centre. Its theme is ‘Unity and Solidarity for Justice and Peace’. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan welcomed heads of delegations from member states.
The meeting’s agenda includes a ten-year action plan to meet challenges and address issues that affect the Muslim nations today, most notably terrorism, growing Islamophobia, Israel, the role of women in the Muslim world, and Myanmar’s Rohingya minority.
The heads of state and government are expected to adopt the summit’s OIC 2025 Action Plan, focusing on terrorism, human rights, poverty, epidemics, the role of women, education, science, and technology.
For OIC Secretary General Iyad Ameen Madani, Muslim leaders have to “focus on exceptionally critical circumstances, regionally and internationally” and create “a collective vision for the Muslim world over the next ten years”.
Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud received special treatment. Contrary to Turkish protocol whereby the official welcoming ceremony for a foreign guest of the president should be held at the presidential palace, President Erdoğan was at the Ankara’s airport to welcome the Saudi monarch.
This is the first time Turkey hosts the OIC summit (10-15 April). Its goal is to boost unity and solidarity among Muslim countries in the fight against terrorism, and provides the “last opportunity' against the territorialisation of the crisis.
Significant decisions are expected against the terrorist activities of Daesh (aka Islamic State group) and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Terrorism is considered as the Muslim world’s main challenge because it claims innocent lives, and inflicts irreparable damage to Islamic civilisation by distorting the past and undermines the future.
This fuels discrimination, xenophobia and Islamophobia in the West and leaves Muslims more vulnerable to verbal and physical abuse.
Tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia compounds the problem, as does the war in Syria – which is still going on despite peace talks in Geneva (Switzerland) under UN auspices –, and difficult relations between summit host Turkey and Egypt.
The high-level meeting of Muslim leaders will also vet the situation in Yemen, Palestine, Iraq, and Azerbaijan. A call for a new peace process to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is expected.
Sectarianism is another unresolved issue in the Muslim world. The summit aims at creating opportunities for Shias and Sunnis to find solutions together to pressing problems, based on the central principle that every Muslim is equally important.
Founded on 25 September 1969, the OIC was granted observer status by the United Nations General Assembly in 1975.
It has 57 members in Europe, Middle East, South America, Africa, Central Asia and the Indian Subcontinent. Its purpose is to protect the interests and promote the development of Muslim populations in the world.