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Islamic leaders unveil action plan to rescue a 'nation in crisis' - Guardian, UK

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  • Zafar Khan
    Islamic leaders unveil action plan to rescue a nation in crisis · Summit rails at deviant ideas behind terrorism · Saudis see deprivation as root cause
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 10, 2005
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      Islamic leaders unveil action plan to rescue a 'nation
      in crisis'
      · Summit rails at 'deviant ideas' behind terrorism
      · Saudis see deprivation as root cause of malaise

      Brian Whitaker in Jeddah
      Friday December 9, 2005
      The Guardian


      Leaders of more than 50 Islamic countries at a summit
      in Mecca called by Saudi Arabia's ruler, King
      Abdullah, adopted an ambitious plan to combat
      extremism and poverty throughout the Muslim world

      The summit was prompted by an admission that Muslim
      societies had fallen into a deep malaise. "The Islamic
      nation is in a crisis," the leaders said in a final
      statement. "We need decisive action to fight deviant
      ideas because they are the justification of terrorism.
      There is a need to confront deviant ideology wherever
      it appears, including in school curriculums. Islam is
      the religion of diversity and tolerance."

      The plan seeks to address what many see as the root
      causes of terrorism by "aggressively" confronting
      extremist rhetoric, including fatwas by unqualified
      clerics, promoting dialogue with other religions and
      fostering economic development in the poorer Muslim
      Other aspects of the plan involve countering
      Islamophobia and setting up an Islamic fund to provide
      swift relief for natural disasters.

      As a vehicle for this action plan, King Abdullah is
      trying to breathe new life into the Organisation of
      the Islamic Conference (OIC), under whose auspices the
      summit was held. Founded in 1969, it is the world's
      largest Muslim body, with 57 member states, but has
      hitherto served mainly as a talking shop.

      Though some observers remained sceptical yesterday,
      Saudi officials said King Abdullah, in his religious
      role as Custodian of the Two Holy Shrines, has decided
      to give a moral lead. They also pointed out that high
      oil prices had brought cash windfalls for Saudi Arabia
      which the king intended to use to push the plan

      There is also no doubt that many Muslim leaders have
      been shaken by Islamist militancy. One Saudi working
      paper at the summit, seen by the Guardian, conceded
      that "an endemic problem currently exists in the
      Muslim world".

      In what for the Saudis was extraordinarily frank
      language, it continued: "A vast majority of Muslim
      countries today face political, economic and social
      underdevelopment that has evolved into a major crisis.
      With the growing signs of displeasure and unrest from
      those suffering under poor national governance across
      the Muslim world, it is crucial for Muslim leaders to
      find viable solutions to the problems they are

      The document also lamented the inability of Muslims to
      prevent the invasion of Iraq "or in the aftermath to
      influence the peace" and said King Abdullah had been
      "shocked by the inaction of Muslim governments" in
      response to the recent Pakistani earthquake.

      The average income in Muslim countries is $1,000
      (£570) a year, a fifth of that for the rest of the
      world, Malaysia's prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad
      Badawi, told the summit. In 19 of the OIC's member
      countries, half of the adult population is illiterate.

      Though many seemed ready to concede some
      responsibility for these failures, Iran's president,
      Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, pointed a finger at "malicious
      adversaries" victimising Muslim countries but called
      on OIC member governments to build "trustful
      relations" with their people.
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