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Organization of Islamic Conference Meets in Senegal

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    Russia woos Islamic world in quest for OIC membership Veeramalla Anjaiah The Jakarta Post , Jakarta Russia, the former communist superpower, has said it wants
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 15, 2008
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      Russia woos Islamic world in quest for OIC membership
      Veeramalla Anjaiah
      The Jakarta Post , Jakarta

      Russia, the former communist superpower, has said it wants to join
      the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC). One may wonder that a
      country like Russia, whose population is mostly secular, truly
      intends to join the world's leading Islamic organization.

      Yet, it is true. Russia wants to join the OIC because of the growing
      importance of Islam and its 1.3 billion followers in world affairs,
      and to enhance cooperation with Islamic nations, said Russian
      Ambassador at Large Veniamin Popov.

      Popov, who came to Jakarta last week as part of a global mission to
      boost Russia's relations with the Islamic world, told The Jakarta
      Post and Kompas in an exclusive interview that Russia, home to some
      20 million Muslims, qualifies in all aspects as an OIC member.

      "If a country like Guyana, whose Muslim population is just 9 percent
      of its total population, can become an OIC member, why not Russia,
      whose Muslim population is higher than the total number of Muslims
      in Malaysia and several Asian and African Muslim states?" said Popov.

      In fact, some OIC members have a Muslim population that is just
      under 20 percent of the national population. For example, Gabon,
      whose Muslim population is about 4 percent of its total population,
      became an OIC member in 1974. (see table)
      The Post asked Popov the reasons behind the Russian foreign policy
      to woo the Muslim community.

      ""In the post-Sept. 11 world, especially among Western countries,
      there are negative perceptions about Muslims. But Russia believes
      Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism and in every religion, we
      have extremist groups that resort to violence and kill innocent
      people. We advocate a 'dialog of civilizations' to solve these
      existing conflicts,"" he said, adding that Islam was the youngest,
      peaceful religion.

      He rejected the assertion of some analysts that Russia wanted to
      exploit the growing anti-American sentiment among Muslims.
      ""This is not true. We want to improve our overall relations with
      the Islamic world, and economic ties cannot be excluded in this

      Popov, who admires Indonesia's Pancasila state philosophy and
      Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity) concept, said terrorists
      had no religion and no nationality.

      ""They are enemies of humankind,"" he said.

      Russia, which is a pluralistic society, wants to learn more about
      moderate Islam and peaceful coexistence among various religions from
      Indonesia, Popov said.

      Thanks to a higher birth rate, the world's Muslim community has also
      been growing faster than those of other religions.

      ""Within five to six years, the total number of Muslims may be equal
      the total number of Christians.""

      According to The Vatican Yearbook 2000, there are 1.9 billion
      Christians (Protestant) and 1.45 billion Catholics across 239

      At present, there are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world, or 20
      percent of the human population, and their numbers are growing at a
      tremendous pace -- in 1900, there were only 200 million Muslims in
      the world, or 12.3 percent of the human population.

      Russia is no exception to this trend. Due to the religious revival
      after the fall of communism, all major religious communities have
      been expanding. Russia's 20 million Muslims now constitute about 13
      percent of its 150 million-strong population.

      ""In 1991, there were 800 mosques in Russia. Now their number has
      gone up to over 7,000. Even in Moscow, we have one million Muslims
      in a population of 10 million,"" Popov said.

      Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Popov, is very keen
      to improve relations with the 57-member OIC, which includes
      Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation.

      In August 2003, Putin established a new division, the Islamic
      Factor, under the ministry of foreign affairs.

      Popov is head of the Islamic Factor division.

      Russia was admitted as a guest to the 10th OIC summit in October in
      Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, where Putin roused Islamic leaders to an
      ovation when he said terrorism should not be equated with any

      Russia will continue with its efforts to obtain observer status in
      the OIC and later, full membership, Popov said.

      ""With only a 5 percent Muslim population, Thailand achieved
      observer status in the OIC in 1998. I think Russia will also get

      Russia is also planning to establish an Islamic university in Moscow
      this year.

      During his stay in Jakarta, Popov met with Vice President Hamzah Haz
      and other government figures, as well as religious leaders from the
      largest Muslim organizations, Nahdlatul Ulama and the Muhammadiyah.


      Mottaki highlights OIC Senegal summit
      Manouchehr Mottaki
      Sun, 02 Mar 2008

      Iran's Foreign Minister Mottaki has pointed out the importance of
      the upcoming Organization of Islamic Conference summit in Senegal.

      "The Muslims of the world should highlight Islamic values and send a
      clear message to those who dare to profane Islamic sanctities,"
      Manouchehr Mottaki told the new Indonesian Ambassador Iwan Wiranata
      Atmadja in a meeting for the presentation of the envoy's credentials.

      Mottaki mentioned Iran's cooperation with the International Atomic
      Energy Agency. He emphasized that the UN Security Council should
      demonstrate its true valorous strength and blockade unilateral
      pressure placed on Tehran by certain countries.

      The Indonesian ambassador said his mission is aimed at strengthening
      all-out ties between Tehran and Jakarta.




      DAKAR, March 12 (Bernama) -- Senate President Tan Sri Dr Abdul Hamid
      Pawanteh is in the Senegalese capital Dakar to officially hand over
      the chairmanship of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
      to this western Africa country on behalf of Prime Minister Datuk
      Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. He was welcomed upon arrival by Foreign
      Ministry Secretary-General Tan Sri Rastam Mohd Isa, Malaysian
      ambassador to Senegal Datuk Jamaiyah M. Yusuf and other Malaysian
      officials. Malaysia will be passing the baton at the opening
      ceremony of the 11th OIC Summit beginning Thursday at the Meridien
      President hotel here, after holding the chairmansip of the 57-member
      grouping since October 2003.

      During the conference, Malaysia is expected to present a report on
      efforts made for Muslims to face the challenges in the 21st century,
      especially in economic capabilities and capacities. OIC foreign
      ministers huddled over the past two days to examine, among others,
      draft agendas, work plans for the heads of state and government as
      well as the draft final communique and the Dakar Declaration. --
      MORE OIC-ABDUL HAMID 2 (LAST) DAKAR The revision of the OIC charter
      takes centre stage at the Dakar OIC meeting as well as the
      implementation of the grouping's 10-Year Plan of Action, the Israeli-
      Palestinian conflict, political, economic, cultural, social and
      humanitarian affairs and issues relating to information, science and
      technology. The OIC was officially launched in 1972 with the
      adoption of its charter in Jeddah where the grouping is

      Meanwhile, the residents of Dakar are rejoicing over the completion
      of road projects designed within the framework of the OIC summit
      which Senegal is hosting for the second time, the first being in
      December 1991. One of them is a coastal road, dubbed "the most
      beautiful" in Africa, which makes it easier for OIC delegates and
      residents alike to move around. The organisers have rented a
      floating hotel called "Musica" docked at the Dakar port a few
      kilometres from the conference venue, to house some of the delegates
      and members of the media present in the city for the summit. --


      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.


      OIC Summit has focused on decisive efforts
      Dakar, March 13, 2008

      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

      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.


      About 700 journalists to cover OIC Dakar summit, organisers say

      APA – Dakar (Senegal) Seven hundred journalists are expected to
      cover the 11th summit of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference
      on 13-14 March in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, organisers said
      here on Monday.

      Some 287 local and foreign reporters based in Dakar had received
      their accreditations on Sunday afternoon, according to a member of
      the press and communication Commission of the National Agency for
      the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (ANOCI).

      "Journalists of the state-owned Radiodiffusion Télévision
      Sénégalaise (RTS) do not fall in this category, Babacar Sow said,
      adding that more than a double of those already accredited, is
      expected in the next few hours.

      Most special correspondents are expected to arrive with their
      delegations between Monday and Wednesday (for Kings and heads of
      state, according to Sow, who moreover gave reassurances about the
      media working conditions.

      The Commission notes that the journalists will have to comply with
      the strict security measures, he said.

      Journalists are banned from entering meeting rooms. They will follow
      the sessions from the media centre set up and equipped for that
      purpose, he added.



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