The57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is meeting in Cairo under the slogan: The Islamic world — New challenges and opportunities. The current session assumes great significance as it’s being held under tight security and in the backdrop of protests and violence.
It also comes at a time when the Arab region is going through profound changes, with some autocrats overthrown from power and people in other countries yearning for democratic freedom.
It’s also important that the Summit is being held in one of the Arab Spring countries. There have been significant changes on the Palestinian front too, with Palestine winning recognition in the United Nations as an ‘observer state’. But the challenges before the group are too many; the Syrian crisis continues, and there are conflicts in Mali, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Sudan and the situation in Jammu and Kashmir is gaining attention.
Then there is the issue of addressing Islamophobia and defamation of religions and combating poverty, disease and ignorance in the Islamic world and tackling other political, economic and social issues.
Each time the Islamic summit is held, we ask the same question: what do we want from this summit, which represents more than a billion Muslims around the world, which is being held in conditions of extreme complexity and embarrassment?
We need a strong Islamic nation which can connect with each other and integrate in political, economic and social arenas, and we expect from Islamic leaders more reforms in their countries for the benefit of their people, not only political reforms but also economic including the eradication of corruption.
We want human rights, not systems to tyrannise, oppress and humiliate citizens, and also want democratic, legal and judicial systems, justice which is not influenced by politics or power, but learned from Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
We want a nation which believes in freedom of expression and can remove all authoritarian rules to pave way for intellectual tolerance and social harmony. We want to tolerance and equality with all castes, communities and non-Muslim minorities living amidst us. We want a nation without sectarianism and divisions, whether political, ideological or ethnic, which may lead to civil wars or conflicts.
Muslims expect their leaders to find solutions to issues facing them, at least the serious and urgent ones. But we know that the Islamic world is too complex, and the problems cannot be solved in just a few days through speeches and discussions.