Annual Coordination Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation

Statement by:

H.E. Dr. Ali Naseer Mohamed, Foreign Secretary

New York, 1 October 2015 



Mr Chair, Mr Secretary General, and Distinguished Delegates,


Assalam Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakaathuh,


I am delighted to be among you all again. I believe our most recent conversation at the 42nd Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers at Kuwait earlier this year has strengthened our bonds of fraternity. And also renewed our joint commitment for peace and development of the Islamic World.


I wish to begin by conveying our profound sympathies to the families of those victims that lost their lives or were seriously injured following the tragic incident at Makkah and Mina. My heart goes out to colleagues, of those countries whose citizens had to suffer this unfortunate tragedy. May Allah grant them Paradise and their families strength and fortitude.  


Mr. Chair,


Our Ummah has suffered great adversities in the recent past, and continues to be plagued with an endless cycle of carnage and turmoil.  


We continue to strongly condemn the denial of Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and the use of ‘collective punishment’ on the population in Gaza. The Maldives reaffirms its commitment towards the right of all Palestinians to freedom, justice, dignity and an independent and contiguous State. The most recent escalation of violence, and encroachment into Gaza and Masjid al-Aqsa is, in our view, a set-back to peace, and a blatant violation of trust that is so necessary for peace to prevail. And in this regard, we welcome convening of the Extra-Ordinary Meeting of this Council to discuss the matter.


We, as leaders of the Muslim World, are yet to find an active solution for the clashes, and the conflicts that are threatening to rip apart our Ummah. Muslims are fighting Muslims; spurred on by worldly riches and the lust for power. The phenomenon of terrorism, violence, extremism and sectarianism, have wrought deep damage in Muslim nations. Islam is being associated with terrorism more than ever, and Islamophobia has rapidly grown around the world like an epidemic.  


We, as Member States of OIC, should stand unified and take effective measures against acts of Islamophobia. We believe that streamlined counter-radicalization efforts must be amplified to ensure a lasting victory against violent extremism. It is imperative to allow our societies to empower their minds and open their hearts to respect one another.


The biggest threat to Islam is coming from ignorance. Ignorance breeds violence; and ignorance justifies barbaric practises such as female genital mutilation, forced marriage, gender inequality, discriminatory laws and subjugation, that are so counter to the values of equality, humanity and enlightenment that Islam brought to the world.


The first word revealed to the Prophet Sallaahu Alaihu Wasallam was “Iqrau” or “read”. Quran is the only Holy Book that opens with this command. It is therefore crystal clear, the emphasis Islam places on education, on acquiring knowledge. Ignorance and idleness that we see so rampant around us today therefore has no place in our religion.


Almighty Allah created man and women equally: none of us deny this fact. It was us who have brought on the notion of inequality; we have manifested this inequality in our institutions, and justified discrimination as norms and traditions.


The biggest harm we do to the cause of enlightenment is our silence: our silence when education is denied on the basis of sex, our lack of concern when the acquisition of knowledge is somehow termed “western” and rejected, our indifference when those who strive to further the cause of education, the horizons of our mind are routinely silenced.


Today, the Maldives calls on the Islamic World; the Secretary General of the OIC: let us make education for all, a policy priority. And we appeal to you, let us ensure that we provide education, without discrimination, to all!


Education opens minds: it opens hearts. Knowledge breeds tolerance and understanding. Educating our girls and women, is not only the right choice, but the smart choice. Investing in education leads to socio-economic progress and development. Let not this opportunity to make a difference pass by.


Assalam Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakaathuh,