Muslim leaders of Americas praise Turkey OIC presidency

By Elif Selin Calik Muhasilovic

ISTANBUL – Turkey’s turn as president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has shown a commitment to peace and justice worldwide, including for oppressed Palestinians and Rohingya and for UN reform, Muslim leaders from the Americas told Anadolu Agency, marking the OIC’s 49th anniversary.

"While Israel quadrupled its territory in occupied Palestine over the last 25 years, Turkey quadrupled its aid to the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA). This is very remarkable message to those who forsake the Palestinian people in their justified struggle for rights and freedom," said Yahya Pedro, head of the Cuban Islamic League.

Pedro said the international community started to take responsibility after Turkey's initiatives as OIC term president.

Turkey assumed the OIC term presidency in 2016 and is due to hold it through next year’s OIC summit in the West African nation of Gambia.

– ‘Collective voice of the Muslim world’

Professor Jamal Badawi, a founding member of the Muslim American Society (MAS), said the OIC was established in 1969 as “the collective voice of the Muslim world.”

Badawi said being an organization of states may have certain advantages but it also represents a challenge, as its delegates represent the collective voice of official governments shaped by their own political stances.

Turkey's keen interest in the well-being of the Muslim world and its hosting the special summit on Palestine in Istanbul this May could help improve the conditions for providing an atmosphere of peace, he added.

– ‘World is bigger than 5’

Yahya Suquillo, director of the Islamic Center of Ecuador, underlined the OIC's importance as the largest intergovernmental structure with countries from Asia, the Far East, Africa, and the Middle East working for unity and solidarity for the goals of justice and peace worldwide.

At the April 2016 OIC summit, said Suquillo, the bloc’s chair, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called on all members “to unite in fighting armed groups as well as to restructure the UN Security Council to include a majority-Muslim country” as Muslims currently make up one-fourth of the world's population.

Erdogan has summed up his drive to reform the Security Council, to expand it beyond the current five permanent members, with the slogan, “The world is bigger than five.”

Suquillo added: “Mr. Erdogan’s phrase ‘The world is bigger than five’ is not only echoing in the arena of international politics but sets up a landmark of firm progress in sensitive issues such as the Rohingya Muslim cleansing, terrorism, Islamophobia, and the political situation following President Trump’s wrong decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem."

He also stressed the importance of the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development’s Executive Bureau as an integral part of the OIC.

According to Suquillo, "The bureau’s Executive Director Ibrahim Al Ikhuzayem, through his vision, has broken paradigms by including places like Ecuador, Guyana, Panama, Brazil, and lately Uruguay, where native converted Muslims see themselves as contributors to society, real citizens but not a religious minority. The collective voice on the 49th anniversary of the OIC is celebrating with hope and happiness in all the corners of the earth.”

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