Habib Shaikh, Arab News
Published — Thursday 30 December 2004
Last Update 30 December 2004 3:00 am
JEDDAH, 30 December 2004 — The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) has not been able to achieve its potential and establish a powerful entity capable of supporting Muslim causes and making itself heard in the international arena, according to Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the new secretary-general. He admitted that given the large membership of the organization and its diversity it is hard to reach agreement on every matter.
“The capacity is there for the organization to engage its member states more actively in a concerted action whereby the Muslim world asserts itself on the international scene through the OIC,” Ihsanoglu said at a reception held to welcome him and bid farewell to his predecessor, Dr. Abdelouahed Belkeziz, here on Tuesday night.
Professor Ihsanoglu said the OIC needed to acquire more international influence and impact. “This is essential considering that its present position is not commensurate with, and does not reflect, the real strength of the Muslim world in terms of its geographical diversity, abundant manpower, rich and varied natural resources, and untapped potential,” he pointed out.
He said it would be beneficial if the OIC defined its own strategy and, at the same time, participated in global cooperation against terrorism with the United Nations and other concerned institutions. “Within this framework, an objective and correct definition of terrorism has yet to be made. Terrorism in all its forms, including state terrorism, must be condemned,” he said.
Muhammad A.M. Al-Ahwal, consul general of Yemen and dean of the diplomatic corps in Jeddah, said the consul generals would meet the new secretary-general to extend both cooperation and support.
Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Ali, president of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), extended his thanks and appreciation to Dr. Belkeziz for his efforts while he was secretary-general of the OIC. He expressed “a sincere welcome” to Professor Ihsanoglu and said “IDB will be very happy to continue its cooperation with the new secretary-general.”
Saying that the restructuring of the OIC has been completed, Dr. Ali stressed that the challenges facing the Ummah necessitate that the organization have a new vision in order to utilize its best brains in the coming two decades.
Dr. Belkeziz said he felt confident that he was leaving behind a modern and forward-looking general secretariat that held firmly to the teachings and policies of Islam which are based on moderation.
“I am leaving behind a general secretariat that has restored effectiveness to the united Islamic voice and brought back the organization’s political weight in international meetings at a period that has been one of the most trying in the history of Islam,” he said. “I can say with certainty, conviction and belief that, together, we spared no effort to discharge our duties as best we could.”