Cambodia a ‘beacon for Muslim coexistence,’ says OIC chief

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OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen described Cambodia as an example for other countries to emulate. (Photos/OIC)
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OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen described Cambodia as an example for other countries to emulate. (Photos/OIC)
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OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen described Cambodia as an example for other countries to emulate. (Photos/OIC)
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OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen described Cambodia as an example for other countries to emulate. (Photos/OIC)
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OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen described Cambodia as an example for other countries to emulate. (Photos/OIC)
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OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen described Cambodia as an example for other countries to emulate. (Photos/OIC)
Updated 14 June 2018
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Cambodia a ‘beacon for Muslim coexistence,’ says OIC chief

  • Cambodia’s promotion of peaceful coexistence has won praise from OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, who cited the country as an example for other countries to emulate.
  • The OIC leader’s message was delivered to a recent government-sponsored iftar celebration in Phnom Penh — a symbol of Cambodia’s inclusive approach to its religious groups.

JEDDAH: While some Southeast Asian countries struggle to get to grips with anti-Muslim sentiment, Cambodia’s positive approach to integration is yielding dividends, with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) chief describing the country as “a beacon of peace and tolerance.”

Cambodia’s promotion of peaceful coexistence has won praise from OIC Secretary-General Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, who cited the country as an example for other countries to emulate.

The OIC leader’s message was delivered to a recent government-sponsored iftar celebration in Phnom Penh — a symbol of Cambodia’s inclusive approach to its religious groups.

Al-Othaimeen said the celebration highlighted “Cambodia’s longstanding respect for diversity, multiculturalism and tolerance and the high regard the government grants to the Muslim community.”

Since coming to office, Al-Othaimeen has made interfaith dialogue among nations a cornerstone of his stewardship, focusing on problems facing Muslim minorities in non-Muslim majority nations.

Anti-Muslim sentiment is widespread in some Southeast Asian Buddhist communities, with a rise in violence against Muslims driven partly by militant Buddhist monks.

Myanmar stands out as a country that is most unwelcoming for the indigenous Muslim Rohingya population who have been forced to abandon their homes in the face of brutal military operations and attacks by militias, especially in Rakhine state. More than a million Muslim-minority Rohingyas have fled the country.

By way of contrast, in Cambodia — where Buddhism is the state religion and Muslims make up less than 5 percent of the population — there is a longstanding respect for diversity, multiculturalism, tolerance and a high regard for its indigenous Muslim community. Islam is also an officially recognized religion in the country.

Muslims in Cambodia enjoy government support in educating their children from primary to university level. They are allowed to wear their religious symbols, such as beards and caps for men and headscarves for women, at state institutions, schools and on government identification documents. There are Muslim prayer rooms at airports and the country has a designated minister for Islamic affairs as well as a grand mufti of Cambodia.

The government also hosts annual iftar gatherings in the country. This is the fifth year the Cambodian government has organized a Ramadan iftar, which was attended by about 5,000 international and local Muslim leaders, including members of government and diplomatic envoys.

The OIC leader sent a delegation led by Mehla Talebna, director-general of the organization’s cultural and social affairs department, who delivered a message of commendation to Cambodia’s leaders, including the Prime Minister Hun Sen, for ensuring peaceful coexistence among cultures and religions in the country.

Cambodia’s prime minister praised the improving relations between the OIC and Cambodia and stressed his country’s desire to pursue observer membership status in the OIC.

The OIC delegation visited Al-Serkal Mosque, Cambodia’s largest mosque, in Phnom Penh and toured Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which details a grim period in Cambodia’s past when the brutal Khmer Rouge regime under Pol Pot controlled the country between 1975 and 1979.

Hundreds of thousands of Muslims were among millions of Cambodians slaughtered during the horror of the Khmer Rouge period. Muslims were prohibited from practicing their religion and their mosques were destroyed during the reign of terror.

Today, in Cambodia, Muslims are able to practice their religion freely, and enjoy democratic rights to vote and be elected as MPs like any other citizen.


Silent on Cohen, Trump says Manafort conviction ‘a disgrace’ but ‘does not involve me’

Updated 41 min 22 sec ago
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Silent on Cohen, Trump says Manafort conviction ‘a disgrace’ but ‘does not involve me’

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump says the conviction of his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort on financial crimes is “a disgrace.”
But he hasn’t publicly reacted to former personal attorney Michael Cohen’s guilty pleas to felonies, including campaign finance violations he stated he carried out in coordination with Trump.
Manafort was convicted Tuesday in Virginia on charges brought by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential obstruction of justice. Cohen pleaded guilty in New York, saying he and Trump arranged the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and a former Playboy model to influence the election.
Trump told reporters in West Virginia that Manafort’s conviction “has nothing to do with Russian collusion.” Of Manafort’s crimes, he says: “It doesn’t involve meRudy Giuliani  Trump’s personal lawyer says criminal charges against Michael Cohen don’t include the assertion he made in court that Trump directed him to make hush-money payments to influence the election.

Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said that there’s “no allegation of any wrongdoing against the President in the government’s charges.”
Giuliani’s comments came after Cohen pleaded guilty to charges including campaign finance fraud.
The charging documents say Cohen made the payments “at the request and suggestion of one or more members of the campaign.”
Cohen told a judge that he and Trump arranged to pay Daniels $130,000 and $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal as the 2016 election loomed.

Both women claimed they had affairs with Trump, which he denies.

Giuliani echoed Deputy US Attorney Robert Khuzami’s assessment that the charges against Cohen “reflect a pattern of lies and dishonesty over a significant period of time.”

Michael Cohen’s lawyer is suggesting President Donald Trump should face criminal charges for directing his longtime “fixer” to make hush-money payments to two women to influence the election.
Lawyer Lanny Davis tweeted on Tuesday: “If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for Donald Trump?“
Davis’ comments came after Cohen pleaded guilty to charges including campaign finance fraud.
Both women claimed they had affairs with Trump, which he denies.
Davis tweeted that by pleading guilty Cohen was “fulfilling his promise” to “put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump.”
Stormy Daniels’ lawyer says Michael Cohen’s guilty plea to charges involving hush-money payments should open the door to questioning President Donald Trump about “what he knew, when he knew it, and what he did about it.”
Cohen said in court on Tuesday that he coordinated with Trump to pay Daniels $130,000 and $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to influence the election. Both women claimed they had affairs with Trump, which he denies.
Daniels said she and lawyer Michael Avenatti felt vindicated and look forward to apologies “from the people who claimed we were wrong.”
Avenatti is flirting with running for president in 2020 as a Democrat. He said the likelihood of that happening will dwindle if Trump resigns or decides not to run for re-election.
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