MAKKAH: A historic anti-extremism document has been signed by 1,200 figures from the Muslim world following a landmark gathering in the holy city of Makkah.
The four-day conference, organized by the Muslim World League (MWL), was attended by dignitaries, scholars, senior officials and leading thinkers who between them represented 139 countries. The delegates also represented 27 components of different Islamic sects.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman was the first leader to sign the declaration and later received the scholars in the holy city. The king was given the final Makkah Declaration document.
Signatories confirmed they sought to interact with all walks of life to achieve the interests of human beings, promote noble values, build bridges, and to confront injustice and hatred.
The Makkah Declaration said that religious and cultural diversity did not justify conflict and that civilized dialogue was the path to overcoming historical differences.
It called for legislation to deter people who promoted hate and instigated violence, saying such laws would weaken the causes of religious and ethnic conflict. It condemned attacks on places of worship, calling them criminal acts that required a strong legislative and security response. It said the extremist ideas that motivated these types of attacks needed to be challenged.
The Makkah Declaration said it was everyone’s duty to fight terrorism, injustice, oppression and the violation of human rights. It also urged greater environmental protection, saying that wasting natural resources and causing pollution breached the rights of future generations.
It warned that Islamophobia stemmed from ignorance about the reality of Islam and that people clung to the misdeeds committed by those claiming to be Muslims and falsely attributing their acts to Islamic laws.
The declaration called for non-interference in the affairs of other states as it was an unacceptable violation, singling out the marketing of sectarian ideas or attempts to impose fatwas.
It recognized the principles of women’s empowerment, the rejection of their marginalization, the degradation of their dignity, the minimization of their role, or the obstruction of their opportunities in the religious, scientific, political or social arena. It called for the protection of young Muslims’ identity with special attention to five key points — religion, homeland, culture, history and language.
Identity should be protected from attempts at deliberate or unintentional exclusion or assimilation. Young people also needed to be protected from intellectual extremism and the idea that there was a clash of civilizations.
Young people should be equipped with the values of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and harmony in order to accept the existence of others, preserve their dignity and rights and respect the laws and regulations of the countries they lived in, the declaration added.
Earlier this week the conference heard that Saudi Arabia had fought extremism with “determination and decisiveness.”
“Saudi Arabia has strongly condemned and fought all forms of extremism, violence and terrorism, with ideology, determination and decisiveness, and has opposed any identification with them,” King Salman said in a speech delivered on his behalf by Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal.
Saudi Arabia was committed to “spreading peace and coexistence and has established international intellectual platforms and centers to promote these principles,” the king said.
“We reiterate our invitation to stop the racist and xenophobic speech from whatever source and under any pretext whatsoever,” he added.
The MWL conference discussed topics including “Moderation in Islamic History and Jurisprudence Heritage” and “Practical Programs to Promote Moderation Among Youth.”
The conference marked the start of several major regional summits in the Kingdom this week. Arab League members and Gulf Cooperation Council leaders will discuss Iran’s recent aggression toward Saudi Arabia and the wider region.
In addition, dozens of member states from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have been invited to attend the body’s 14th Islamic summit.