Annual Coordination Meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation
His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Asim, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Maldives
22 September 2016
Mr Secretary General, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,
Assalam Alaikum Warahmathullahi Wabarakaathuh,
We, as the leaders of the Muslim world, are gathered here today during one of the most trying times for the Muslim Ummah. Although we have prospered and flourished throughout the ages, we are now facing unprecedented hostility and instability. The spirit of harmony and kinship that we aspire to maintain amongst all people and nations of the world has been fractured. If we, as leaders, do not take up the responsibility of acknowledging and addressing this, the fractures will evolve into cracks, deteriorating the peace and security of the entire world.
Some of the challenges we are facing arise from the lack of sustainable solutions to age-old conflicts which, as a result, are escalating even further. Some of the challenges we face are new and unprecedented, born out of diverging ideologies and evolving politics, coupled with the realities of the modern world. Gathered here, under the auspices of the UN, we must recognise that our efforts to combat these challenges must be strengthened in the interest of all of humanity, in particular the Islamic Ummah.
It is universally accepted that violent extremism and terrorism are the biggest threats to global peace and security today. And it is of particular significance to us, as even though not reflected in the media, the most number of people who fall victim to terrorist attacks and violent extremism are from our countries. Not only that, in response to most terrorist attacks, we, the Muslim community in general have been labelled as culprits, and are facing increasing hostility and aggression from the international community.
The Maldives, like most other countries here, rejects all forms of terrorism, and strongly denounces and condemns all terrorist activities carried out in the name of Islam. I am not going to preach to you, to a distinguished audience of Islamic leaders, about how Islam is indeed a religion of peace, tolerance and acceptance. It is a conceptual fact that everyone in this room understands it very well. However, I do call upon you to join me in getting this message out to the rest of the world. Extremists and terrorists who have associated their actions with Islam have tarnished the Muslim name, and proliferated antagonism towards all Muslims. We, as the most senior representatives of our Ummah, need to wipe out the so-called concept of “Islamophobia”. Only a concerted effort by all of us can even begin to challenge the popular media that promotes these concepts.
The perpetual conflict in the Middle East is one of the age old challenges that we face. Although it seems to be considered as a norm by some, we cannot accept this as the reality. We cannot let an entire generation of children go through their lives without having any concept of what peace and security looks like. We cannot let the daily violence, suffering and aggression against our brothers and sisters continue.
The Maldives reaffirms its solidarity with the Palestinian people, and reiterate our call for an end to the bloodshed through the two state solution, which ascertains the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. We condemn in the strongest terms the inhumane violence against the Palestinian people by Israeli settlers, and note with alarm the continued expansion of settlement in the Palestinian land.
It is also with a heavy heart, we witness the human cost of the conflict in Syria, and recognise that a political solution needs to be derived which captures the expectations of the Syrian people. We are also observing the deteriorating situation in Yemen, and recognise the efforts being undertaken by countries to broker a peaceful resolution.
Actions and inactions for the resolution of these conflicts are to a large extent dependent on the resolve of the international community. While we need their support and cooperation, this can be challenging to garner in the face of rising hostility and Islamophobia towards the Muslim world. Therefore, we must work collectively to educate the ignorant, build trust with the apprehensive, and reassure the doubtful to rebuild the image of the Muslim community throughout the world.