Peace Jihad for Islamic Renaissance
Dawn, March 15, 2008
DAKAR, March 14: Presidents and other leaders from Muslim nations on Friday agreed upon a new charter for the Organisation of the Islamic Conference aimed at reforming the body and speeding up its decision making, a delegation source said.
“The charter was adopted,” an Arab delegate said after days of talks involving foreign ministers and leaders from the 57-nation group.
Leaders of the OIC had been debating for several years a new charter to modernise the group. But there has been intense debate about issues ranging from eligibility for new membership to how to define “self-determination” for the Palestinian people and how the OIC could get involved in conflict resolution.
Earlier, speaking at the Islamic summit, the Indonesian president called for a “jihad of peace” to spark an “Islamic renaissance”.
President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono also called for greater democracy and efforts to improve the plight of Muslims and spread Islamic values.
“The possibility of an Islamic renaissance lies before us,” Mr Yudhoyono told the summit, but first, he added: “We need to get our act together as an organisation of Muslim nations.
“When the Islamic renaissance comes it will be the natural fruit of a peaceful and constructive ‘jihad’.”
Mr Yudhoyono said the OIC was “unique” because it covers three continents and “Muslim countries supply 70 per cent of the world’s energy requirements and 40 per cent of its raw material exports”.
But he said the Muslim world must improve its image. “Protracted conflicts in Muslim societies bring shame to the Ummah and tarnish the good name of Islam.”
In many non-Muslim circles “Islam has unjustly been associated with violence”, the president added.
“We must disabuse the world of this terrible misconception,” he said, calling for greater efforts against ‘Islamophobia’ in the West, but also greater democracy in Muslim nations.
“We must strive for good governance and attend to our democratic deficit.”
Indonesia, with more than 230 million people, is the world’s most populous Muslim nation and its third biggest democracy.
“History tells us that Muslims in the past contributed immensely to the march of civilisation through groundbreaking achievements in the sciences, as well as in arts.” But Mr Yudhoyono added that Islam was now “on the defensive”.
He called for efforts to “improve the plight of the Muslim peoples and empower them. This means extensive economic cooperation among ourselves. This entails pooling of resources and plugging of the development gaps all over the Muslim world”.
One reform would allow decisions to be taken by a two-thirds majority, diplomats said. The OIC currently works by unanimity, making decisions difficult in such a group where members range from Saudi Arabia, in the Gulf, to Thailand, in Asia, and Suriname, in South America.
DIALOGUE WITH WEST: The summit agreed to work with the West to fight religious bigotry and a US envoy pledged support for a dialogue to avoid “a clash of ignorance”.
Delegates at the conference said a final communique would focus on the threat of “Islamophobia” facing the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims.—Agencies