Russia woos Islamic world in quest for OIC membership
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,
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
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
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.
M'SIAN SENATE PRESIDENT IN DAKAR TO HAND OVER
OIC CHAIRMANSHIP TO SENEGAL
By FROM MUIN ABDUL MAJID Bernama
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. --
BERNAMA MAM MFJ JK
Islamic Summit Opens in Dakar, Palestine Very Important
Point on OIC Agenda
OIC Leaders Pledge Support for Palestinians
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 ....
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
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
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
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
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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