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PLAIN TRUTH – OIC Islamic Summit in Istanbul Turkey: Unity and Solidarity for Justice and Peace

29Dr. Mozammel Haque :


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hosted more than 30 heads of state and government as well as top officials from 57-member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) for the two-day Summit in Istanbul, Turkey from 14-15 April, 2016. The theme of the Conference was “Unity and Solidarity for Justice and Peace.” The 13th Islamic Summit aimed at overcoming differences in the Muslim world.

Prominent guests at the meeting included Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

The two-day summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation OIC) got underway on Thursday, 14 April 2016 with a speech by Erdogan from the Summit venue in Istanbul, the former capital of the Ottoman Empire from where the Ottoman sultans for centuries ruled Muslims from the Balkans to Arabia.

Turkey has said it wants to use the meeting to narrow differences between the world’s estimated 1.7 billion Muslims. However, the gathering risks being overshadowed by disputes on issues ranging from Syria to Yemen.


While the summit marks one of the most significant gatherings of heads of state for years in Istanbul, some prominent leaders such as Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi was notable by their absence.

[Acknowledgement] This write-up is prepared from the sources: OIC website, press agencies, Saudi GazetteArab News and Al-Jazeera English website.

Background information of the OIC

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) (formerly Organization of the Islamic Conference) is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has membership of 57 states spread over four continents. The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world and ensuring to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world in the spirit of promoting international peace and harmony among various people of the world. The Organization was established upon a decision of the historical summit which took place in Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco on 12th Rajab 1389 Hijra (25 September 1969) as a result of criminal arson of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.

In 1970 the first ever meeting of Islamic Conference of Foreign Minister (ICFM) was held in Jeddah which decided to establish a permanent secretariat in Jeddah headed by the organization’s secretary general. Mr. Iyad Ameen Madani is the 10th Secretary General who assumed the office in January 2014.


Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)

(Formerly Organisation of the Islamic Conference)

Founded on 25 September 1969 &

Holds international Summit every three year

Member – 57 Islamic Countries

Representing 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide

Head Quarter – Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

Present Secretary General – Mr. Iyad Madani

OIC protecting and defending true image of Islam

OIC promoting trade & economic ties between member countries

OIC calls itself collective voice of Muslim world

Israeli-Palestine conflict is high on the agenda at this OIC Summit

OIC Summit is meant to address rising threats of Islamophobia & Sectarianism

The present Charter of the Organization was adopted by the Eleventh Islamic Summit held in Dakar on 13-14 March 2008 which laid down the objectives and principles of the organization and fundamental purposes to strengthen the solidarity and cooperation among the Member States. Over the last 40 years, the membership has grown from its founding members of 25 to 57 states. The Organization has the singular honour to galvanize the Ummah into a unified body and have actively represented the Muslims by espousing all causes close to the hearts of over 1.5 billion Muslims of the world. The Organization has consultative and cooperative relations with the UN and other inter-governmental organizations to protect the vital interests of the Muslims and to work for the settlement of conflicts and disputes involving Member States. In safeguarding the true values of Islam and the Muslims, the organization has taken various steps to remove misperceptions and have strongly advocated elimination of discrimination against the Muslims in all forms and manifestations.

The Member States of the OIC face many challenges in the 21st century and to address those challenges, the third extraordinary session of the Islamic Summit held in Makkah in December 2005, laid down the blue print called the Ten-Year Program of Action which envisages joint action of Member States, promotion of tolerance and moderation, modernization, extensive reforms in all spheres of activities including science and technology, education, trade enhancement, and emphasizes good governance and promotion of human rights in the Muslim world, especially with regard to rights of children, women and elderly and the family values enshrined by Islam.

On the back drops of the Summit

This Summit took place in Istanbul in the back drops of ISIL, Daesh terrorism, Syrian conflict sending hundreds of thousands of refugees to the unwelcoming European borders.  Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, said the summit was being held at a time when “the Islamic world is experiencing many disputes within itself.

“Fratricidal conflict causes great pain. Sectarianism divides the Ummah,” he told OIC foreign ministers on Tuesday, using the Arabic world for the Muslim community. Still he was optimistic and said, “Hopefully, this summit will pave the way for healing some wounds.”

Issues discussed

The issues included the question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict, conflict situations in the Muslim world and migration, situation of Muslim communities in non-OIC member states, combating terrorism and violent extremism, Islamophobia, and the humanitarian situation in the Muslim world.

Twelve issues were tabled for discussion by leaders of the Muslim world at the meeting started Thursday (14 April 2016). There was also discussion on the OIC Program of Action: 2016-2025, advancing scientific cooperation among member states in the areas of health, higher education and environment, advancing cultural, social and information cooperation in the Muslim world, poverty eradication and development of infrastructure in the OIC member states, legal and statutory issues, and empowering OIC to deliver on its mandate.

Opening Speech of Turkish President

Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Fight Sectarianism

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday, the 14th of April, 2016 urged Muslim leaders gathered for the OIC summit to end sectarian divisions in the Islamic world and join forces to fight terror. “I believe the greatest challenge we need to surmount is sectarianism. My religion is not that of Sunnis, of Shiites. My religion is Islam,” Erdogan said in his opening speech.

“We should be uniting. Out of the conflicts, the tyranny, only the Muslims suffer,” he said, adding the summit meeting could be a “turning point” for the whole Islamic world.

Re-structuring of the UN Security Council

He also called for the re-structuring of the UN Security Council, so that the Muslim world has an effective voice. Erdogan lashed out at Daesh and Boko Haram extremists in Nigeria as two “terrorist organizations that are serving the same evil purpose.”

Multinational Police Coordination centre

He said that the OIC had accepted a Turkish proposal to set up a Multinational Police Coordination Centre for Islamic states to fight militants, to be based in Istanbul. “We need to establish an organization to further strengthen cooperation in the fight against terror,” he said.

Unify the Muslim world

Several leaders have expressed their commitment to unify the Muslim world in the face of severe political, economic and social challenges.

Palestinian question,

In his speech, read out by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Soukry, President Abdul Fattah El-Sisi said that as the chair of the previous summit, Egypt had done everything it could to advance the cause of Muslims across the globe. This would continue under Turkey, as the new chair, particularly with regard to action on the Palestinian question, which should be resolved with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital. He commended the OIC for holding a summit on Palestine in Indonesia in March.

Erdogan agreed with El-Sisi’s call for action on Palestine, and also endorsed the call for unity among Muslim nations to tackle the problems of vulnerable communities. He said Turkey was doing everything it can to help refugees, and had already saved around 100,000 from drowning in the Aegean Sea.

Surmount Sectarianism

In his opening speech, Turkish President Erdogan said, “I believe the greatest challenge we need to surmount is sectarianism. My religion is not that of Sunnis, of Shiites. My religion is Islam.”

“We should be uniting. Out of the conflicts, the tyranny, only the Muslims suffer,” he said, adding the summit meeting could be a “turning point” for the whole Islamic world.

Condemn daesh

Erdogan lashed out at the Daesh (the so-called IS) militants who seized swathes of Syria and Boko Haram extremists in Nigeria as two “terrorist organizations that are serving the same evil purpose.”

Opening Speech of King Salman bin Abdulaziz

Addressing the opening session of the 13th Islamic Summit Conference of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Thursday, the CUSTODIAN of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman called for adopting a strong position against attempts by some vested interests in blatantly interfering in the internal affairs of some member countries and thereby inciting sectarian strife and divisions.

“The present day realities make it incumbent on us to stand united more than ever to fight the scourge of terrorism as well as to protect the younger generation from its fierce attack. Terrorism targets the youths to get out of the path of their righteous religion and be driven by those who are creating turmoil using the name of our religion, which has nothing to do with them,” he said.

King Salman referred to the major initiative taken recently by the Kingdom in combating terror. “We have made a serious step in this direction through forming an Islamic military alliance, consisting of 39 countries, in order to coordinate all efforts through intellectual, media, financial and military initiatives based on the OIC’s principles and objectives.”

King Salman said by interfering in the internal affairs of others, some vested quarters were instrumental in further aggravating the sectarian division within the Ummah. “The Muslim world is reeling under conflicts and crises that are represented by the blatant interference in the affairs of a number of Islamic countries apart from sowing seeds of discord and division, and inciting sectarian strife. Armed militias are being used to destabilize our security and stability so as to spread their influence and domination,” the King said and called for a strong position to prevent such interference and maintain the security and safety of the Muslim world.

Solution to Palestinian issue

King Salman also called for finding solutions to the burning issues facing the Muslim world. “Finding a just solution to the Palestinian issue in accordance with the Arab peace initiative and international legitimacy resolutions is in the forefront of these issues,” he said.

End to Syrian crisis

“Putting an end to the Syrian crisis in accordance with the decisions of Geneva 1 and Security Council resolution 2254, as well as to support the existing efforts to end the Libyan crisis are other top issues. On the Yemeni issue, we support the UN efforts for the success of consultations to be held in Kuwait in implementation of Security Council resolution 2216,” the King said hoping that the summit would come out with decisions that would further bolster solidarity and achieve more collaboration for the betterment of the Muslim Ummah.

OIC Secretary General Iyad Madani

In his keynote address, OIC Secretary General Iyad Madani said the pan-Islamic body has put the fight against terrorism as it main priority but at the same time he noted that only 21 member states have so far ratified the OIC agreement in this regard.

He urged all Palestinian factions to resolve their differences in order to form a consensus government. He announced that the OIC is working with Iraq to hold the 2nd Makkah Conference to achieve reconciliation in that country.

Madani appealed to the development of humanitarian work in the organization, and announced that the 14th session of the Islamic Summit will be held in Gambia in 2018.

Iyad Madani, secretary general of the 57-member Islamic bloc, said the summit took over 200 decisions. The conference expressed concern over the rising tide of xenophobia, Islamophobia and anti-Muslim racism in Western countries, and called on Western states to take necessary measures to combat these and to ensure the safety and well-being of Muslims there.

Condemning Israel’s continued occupation of the Palestinian territories and its increasing atrocities, the summit confirmed full solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle to free themselves from the 49-year-long occupation and called on the global community to support efforts to empower the state of Palestine by all means.

The Summit proceedings concluded on Friday, the 15th of April 2016 with the adoption of a resolution on Palestine, the OIC Ten-Year Program of Action for 2015-2025, the final communiqué, and the Istanbul Declaration.

Final Closing Session

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who chaired the final session of the OIC summit, lamented the fact that Muslim countries who are “the heirs of a civilization that was built on columns of peace and justice are being remembered more for wars, armed conflict, sectarianism and terrorism.”

Chairing the final session of the summit, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that sectarianism, racism and terrorism are the three largest challenges confronting the Muslim world. “As Muslims, we cannot overcome our difficulties without achieving unity in spite of our differences.” The Turkish leader said establishing an international arbitration body in Istanbul was part of the OIC 2025 Action Plan, endorsed by the summit.

Erdogan also welcomed a decision reached a day earlier to create a Turkey-based police coordination centre aimed at increasing cooperation against terrorism.

Final Communique of The OIC Summit

Muslim leaders of the 57-member organization OIC discussed at the OIC Istanbul Summit a range of issues such as the humanitarian fallout from Syria’s civil war and passed their final resolutions.

Deplored Iran’s interference

The OIC said in its final summit communiqué, “The conference deplored Iran’s interference in the internal affairs of the states of the region and other member states including Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia, and its continued support for terrorism,”. It “deplored Iran’s interference” and “continued support for terrorism” not only in Syria but also Bahrain, Yemen and Somalia.

Condemned Daesh

The Communique also expressed strong condemnation of the Daesh group and the role of Iran and its proxies in regional conflicts. The conference pledged to combat terrorism in all its forms and condemned Daesh for its use of chemical weapons in Iraq.

The final declaration expressed hope that negotiations that started in Geneva on April 13 would contribute to resolving “the Syrian crisis as soon as possible.”

Bilateral Cooperation Council

At the sidelines of the summit, Turkey and Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum to create a bilateral cooperation council.

Jeddah-based English daily Arab News summarises the OIC Summit’s final communiqués which denounces Tehran’s plots as follows:

  • Islamic Summit Conference supports Islamic Military Alliance for Combating Terrorism
    • OIC rejects Iran’s inflammatory statements on execution of judicial decisions in Saudi Arabia
  • Muslim leaders denounce aggression against Saudi missions in Tehran, Mashhad
  • OIC communique deplores Iran’s continued support for terrorism
  • Summit deplores Iran’s interference in internal affairs of Bahrain, Yemen, Syria and Somalia
    • Leaders rap Hezbollah for terrorist activities in Syria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen
  • Hezbollah under fire for supporting terrorist activities that undermine security of OIC states
  • Leaders stress need to preserve Syria’s unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity
  • Summit reaffirms its principled support for rights of Palestinians
  • Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey commended for generously hosting Syrian refugees
    • Member states & international community urged to support Syrian refugees
  • Daesh condemned for using chemical weapons against the civilians
  • Summit reiterates continued support for legitimate Yemeni government of President Hadi
    • OIC reaffirms support for people of Kashmir and calls on India to implement UN resolutions
    • Conference reiterates its principled position against terrorism in all its forms

Istanbul Summit Final Declaration

A pan-Islamic summit, bringing together leaders from across the Islamic world, concluded in the Turkish city of Istanbul on Friday, the 15th of April, 2016 with a pledge to combat terrorism, cast aside sectarian differences and address regional conflicts. Followings are part of the final declaration of the Istanbul Summit published in Saudi Gazette.

Deploring its interference

The 13th Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) harshly criticized Iran, deploring its interference in the internal affairs of regional states and other member countries including Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, and Somalia, and its continued support for terrorism, according to the final communiqué issued at the end of the two-day summit.

Condemned Hezbollah

The conference condemned Hezbollah for its role in terrorist activities in Syria, Bahrain, Kuwait, Yemen, and for supporting terrorist movements undermining security of OIC states.

Defend human dignity

The leaders emphasized their shared commitment to defend human dignity by working toward alleviating poverty, addressing social injustices and creating equal opportunities for Muslim minorities.

Interaction with other religions and cultures

The summit recognized the need for the Islamic world to enhance its outreach and interaction with other religions and cultures through constructive dialogue, mutual understanding and moderation.

Condemned terrorism and sectarianism

The OIC condemned terrorism and sectarianism in all their forms and manifestations regardless of motive and wherever and by whomever committed, and call for equal determination toward all terrorist organizations. It renewed unwavering commitment to strengthening cooperation between the OIC and other international organizations to prevent and combat the scourge of terror.

Rejected all attempts to affiliate terrorism

The conference rejected all attempts to affiliate terrorism with any nationality, civilization, religion or ethnic group, and refuse provision of any direct or indirect support to the groups that call for violence, extremism and terrorism.

Fostering tolerance, respect, dialogue

The summit also emphasized the importance of fostering tolerance, respect, dialogue and cooperation among different cultures, civilizations and peoples, besides reiterating that intercultural dialogue, mutual respect and finding common grounds for solidarity are the only means to build peaceful, prosperous and socially cohesive communities.

Solidarity with Muslim minorities

The summit expressed solidarity with Muslim minorities in many non-OIC member states who still face serious oppression and whose rights are disregarded in many cases.

Enhancing the role of Muslim youth

The conference encouraged efforts aimed at strengthening and enhancing the role of Muslim youth in society, and improving the conditions for their education and employment.

Contribution of Muslim women

The conference underlined the importance of the contribution of Muslim women to social life as well as of strengthening the role of women in development of Islamic countries.

Increase intra-OIC trade to 25 percent

The Muslim leaders reaffirmed their resolve to increase intra-OIC trade to 25 percent in the coming ten years. They also welcomed the adoption of the “OIC-2025: Program of Action,” setting ambitious targets in various fields for the member states to achieve over the next ten years.

The leaders also vowed their commitment to continue efforts aimed at increasing the effectiveness of the OIC in making justice and peace prevail all around the world. — With input from Agencies

This write-up is prepared from the sources: OIC resources, press agencies, Saudi Gazette, Arab News and Al-Jazeera English website.