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  OIC Chief Renews Call to Stop

‘Campaign of Insults’
By M. Ghazanfar Ali Khan, Arab News



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RIYADH, 26 March 2008 — The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) has reiterated a call on the Dutch government to stop the screening of an offensive anti-Qur’an film produced by a right-wing MP in the Netherlands.


“We must not allow freedom of speech to be used as a cover to insult religion,” said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary-general of the OIC, speaking on the sidelines of a high-profile three-day dialogue between Japan and the Islamic world, which concluded yesterday.


“I must say that there is a positive development between the OIC and the Dutch government and we look forward to new steps by the Netherlands to stop the screening of this film,” he added.


Referring to attacks on Islam, a cross-section of participants supported the OIC secretary-general’s views, saying that Denmark and the Netherlands must stop provoking Muslims using the European Convention on Human Rights as a basis.


Ihsanoglu called on the two European countries to respect the sentiments of over 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide. “We have to deal first with the campaign of insults ... and the deliberate misuse of freedom of the press,” said the OIC chief.


Dr. Saleh Al-Wohaibi, secretary-general of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, deplored the fact that there was no change in the position of the Danish government. “The Danish government is still holding onto its position and not condemning the insults of its own people,” he said.


M.J. Akbar, an eminent Indian journalist, said, “Peace is not possible without understanding, understanding is not possible without dialogue and a serious dialogue is not possible without equality.”


He also called on people of different faiths to respect each other. “Do I blame Christianity for Hitler or the Vatican for Mussolini? No, because it would be wrong; Jesus never advocated genocide. Likewise, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) gave us a religion which advocates peace,” he said.


He further called the coupling of “Islam and the West” together in a phrase wrong, saying that “Islam is a religion, the West is geography.”


“Without equality, dialogue is a deceptive monologue,” he added, giving the example of India where people of different faiths, including 170 million Muslims, live and work together in harmony.


Both Ihsanoglu and Al-Wohaibi, while referring to the pledge made by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to hold an all-encompassing dialogue, said that it is high time to have dialogue with political commitments.


Prince Turki ibn Muhammad, undersecretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement read out by Jamil M. Merdad, chief of Islamic Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called for dialogue to continue with the involvement of more NGOs. “The initiative taken by the Institute of Diplomatic Studies, the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to hold this interfaith dialogue is important to defuse crises and help mankind,” he said.


Dr. Dhafer A. Alumran, ambassador of Bahrain, Tsutomu Ishiai, a Japanese newspaper editor, and Eiji Nagasawa, an academic, addressed different sessions yesterday. Japanese Ambassador Shigeru Nakamura also attended the event.


(Courtesy Arab News, Riyadh)


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