JEDDAH – SAUDI Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal inaugurated the preparatory meeting of OIC foreign ministers here Tuesday with a call to formulate a realistic working program for the Ummah (Muslim world) to face up to various external and internal threats and challenges.
The working program will be contained in the Makkah Declaration, which will be presented to the Muslim leaders prior to its delivery at their two-day summit starting Wednesday in the holy city by King Abdullah, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques.
Prince Saud expressed his hope that the working program would be a realistic one and liable for implementation by all member states of the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC).
The Makkah Declaration tackles the current situation of the Muslim nation and projects its aspirations, he said.
The Muslim nation advocates virtues, values of justice and equality and enhances the pillars of tolerance and fraternity among its members, while at the same time fighting injustice, aggression and corruption, he said.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, taking into account its historical and religious responsibility, is keen on making the summit a turning point in the history of the Muslim nation, and it is keen on realizing genuine Islamic solidarity, he said. At the same time it hopes that the resolutions to be adopted by the summit will be characterized by seriousness and credibility.
The Declaration aims to mark the start of a joint effort by Muslim countries to promote religious moderation and coexistence with people of other faiths. We have to restructure the Islamic Fiqh Council for issuance of authoritative Fiqh for the whole Muslim Ummah, Prince Saud said.
The OIC should seek to counter the harsh offensive on Islam from enemies abroad and some of its own children with deviant ideologies, he said.
The Iraqis and Syrians, meanwhile, pressed for a hearing of their respective cases, maintaining that the problems of their countries involve the entire Islamic world.
Iraq s foreign minister, Hoshyar Zebari requested that his country be included on the summit s agenda, sources said.
It was subsequently learned that the leaders of Iraq s neighboring countries, including Saudi Arabia, are to meet in the sidelines of the summit today to discuss the security situation there and also the comprehensive meeting of the various Iraqi factions in Baghdad next March.
The sources said Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad will not attend the summit and that Foreign Minister Farouk Al-Shara will represent him at the summit. Al-Shara s deputy Waleed Al-Mua llim attended the preparatory meeting Tuesday.
We are seeking support for Syria at the summit, Al-Mua llim told the Saudi Gazette, referring to international pressure on and allegations against Syria over the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Mua llim refused to label it as a Syrian issue and said instead that it was a conspiracy against Syria issue.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, meanwhile, suggested that discussion on a 10-year crisis resolution plan at the summit be put off to the next regular OIC summit scheduled for Dec. 2006 in Dakar, Senegal, the sources said.
While Mottaki stressed on the importance of the plan, he said the idea behind a postpontment is to further enrich it with more thought put in since the plan is unprecedented. The 10-year plan includes restructuring of the OIC, further empowering its secretary general, and bringing about political, economic and cultural renaissance in the Muslim world.
Consensus on the 10-year plan is very important and suggestions were still being made Tuesday for some amendments to further enrich and empower it, the sources said. Prince Saud in his inaugural speech said the document of the working program for confronting the challenges facing the Muslim nation in the 21st century is based on the recommendations, visions and ideas of Muslim scholars and thinkers, The document includes the means that can contribute to tackling the problems facing the Muslim nation. These problems may include the vicious attacks from their enemies as well as the deviant ideas from some Muslims, he said. The document underscores the importance of correcting wrong ideas about Islam and advocates dialogue with others in a rational and wise manner
The document stipulates the development of the performance of the OIC in a manner that enables it to perform its mission in a satisfactory way, Prince Saud said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Dr. Alberto Romelo, the Philippines observer invited by Prince Saud to attend the summit, said his country is seeking an observer seat in the OIC.
In 2003, at the 10th OIC summit in Putayaja, Malaysia, Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who was invited, had asked for an observer seat and got it approved, Romelo noted.
The Philippines has 8 million Muslims and deserve observer status, he said. Other countries having observer status are Thailand, the Central African Republic, Cyprus and Russia.
By Faheem Al-Hamid
Okaz/The Saudi Gazette