12/06/2005, 00.00
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Organisation of Islamic Conferences starts extraordinary summit tomorrow

Delegates from 57 countries will tackle problems facing the Muslim world at the threshold of the 21st century, from violence waged by radical Islamic movements to political and economic fragmentation.  

La Mecca (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Polishing the image of Islam, "tarnished by continued acts of violence committed in the name of religion by radical Islamic groups." The Saudi Arabian Foreign Affairs Minister, Saud Faisal, said this is the main goal of an extraordinary summit to be held on Wednesday and Thursday in La Mecca by the 57 member states of the Organisation of Islamic Conferences (OIC).

Two documents will be submitted during the deliberations: the La Mecca Declaration containing general principles and visions of a moderate Islam and a plan of action for the modernisation of the OIC, which is set to become the Organisation of Islamic Countries in the near future. The official OIC spokesman, M. Mannan, said "the summit will tackle two main questions: the challenges posed by the beginning of the 21st century for the Muslim world and the Palestinian question."

In a note, the Saudi Arabian king said he had "hope that in this summit, the Islamic nation will rediscover the unity and trust necessary to take on a clear and influential role in today's world". The discussions will also tackle Iraq's delicate political situation; the country will be presented at the Mecca meeting by the president, Jalal Talabani.

Politics and economic issues will also be discussed on the sidelines of this extraordinary OIC session. Delegates will assess a project presented by the OIC General Secretary, Turkey's Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, about the organization's future political, economic and cultural development. Last November, Ihsanoglu had invited all governments of the member states to redouble their institutional efforts to launch a free trade zone in the near future.

In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake which hit Pakistan, participants at the Mecca meeting will also discuss the setting up of a solidarity fund in the Islamic Bank for Muslim countries afflicted by natural disasters or in case of humanitarian crises.

Before the summit kicks off, the Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister, Saud Faisal, wanted to launch an appeal to his colleagues so that the organisation may adopt a common front in the face of "ferocious offensive by external enemies against the Muslim world and by the very sons of Islam who promote an ideology which deviates from the true religion."

The non-Muslim leaders of OIC member states will participate in deliberations by video conference from Jeddah, given that access to Mecca is forbidden to those who do not profess the Islamic faith.

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