Syria, Palestine and Mali dominate the conference’s agenda
The 12th session of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit kicked off, Wednesday, with more than 25 Islamic heads of state, including Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in attendance.
President of Senegal Macky Sall, the chairman of the OIC’s 11th session, made the opening speech at the summit, in which he praised the French intervention in Mali. Sall chaired the OIC for five years before transferring leadership to President Mohamed Morsi.
After assuming the position as the new OIC chairman, Morsi started his speech by thanking Sall for his efforts in leading the OIC’s 11th session. He called upon state members to reach consensus, protect minorities and improve Islam’s image in the world.
He stated the amount of trade between member states has increased 17.8% and is expected to reach 20% by 2015.
During his speech, Morsi also spoke about Palestine. “We face a lot of challenges at the political level, Palestine being at the centre,” he said. “Egypt is clearly and firmly committed to supporting the Palestinian people until they gain their freedom in an independent state.” He added that there will be talks during the summit to discuss the issue of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohamed Amr had said earlier there would be a closed session to discuss Palestine that afternoon.
Morsi also discussed the Syrian crisis during his speech. He called upon the Syrian opposition groups to coordinate with the National Coalition of the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces, to help end the continuing bloodshed. “The humanitarian situation in Syria has reached a dangerous stage and every day it gets even worse,” he said.
Morsy affirmed that Egypt will continue its efforts in enforcing a quarterly initiative which aims at ending the violence in Syria, stated in the OIC’s exceptional session last August. The initiative was established in cooperation between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran.
Syria was suspended from the OIC summit held last August.
Morsi went on to state Egypt’s position against the French military intervention in Mali, saying Egypt supports the “unity of the Mali lands.” He also mentioned the strife in Myanmar, declaring: “the situation could not be passed without action.”
Addressing the member states, Morsi said the challenges ahead necessitate improving the image of Islam in the West and dealing with Islamophobia, which threatens Muslim minorities abroad.
“Despite the fact that there are foreign sides responsible for tarnishing the image of Islam in the West, our nations share part of this responsibility,” said Morsi.
OIC Secretary General Ehsan Ughlo also gave a speech in which he stressed that the revolutions of the Arab Spring tended to turn the Islamic nations to a new era of enlightenment.
Attendees of the summit included Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made a historic visit to Egypt to attend the summit and discuss the Syrian crisis. Iran is one of the strongest opponents to Al-Assad’s regime. Ahmadinejad was the first Iranian head of state to visit Egypt in 34 years.