MAKKAH - Prime Minister Imran Khan Saturday urged the Muslim world body to play an effective role in safeguarding the rights of Muslims and their religious sentiments, expressing concern over the rise in blasphemy and Islamophobia cases around the world.

The blasphemous acts against the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) in the western world was a failure of the OIC, which should have made it clear to them how revered the Holy Prophet is to the Muslims.

“How he (Muhammad PBUH) lives in our heart; it is up to us to explain to the western people the amount of pain they cause us when they ridicule or mock our Holy Prophet,” the prime minister said while addressing the 14th Islamic Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Makkah.

The summit, also addressed by the Saudi King, OIC Secretary General Dr Yousef bin Ahmad Al-Othaimeen and other Muslim world leaders, coincides with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the organization.

The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud chaired the session themed “Hand in Hand toward the Future”, which brought together the leaders of OIC member states to evolve a unified stance on the ongoing issues and events in the Muslim world.

On their arrival at the venue, King Salman received the guests – including Prime Minister Imran Khan who was attired in white shalwar kameez and a black waistcoat.

The prime minister in his address said that in the west the people did not treat religion like the Muslims treat Islam. They have a totally different attitude towards the religion, he added.

“I would like to say from this platform that at the forums like the United Nations and the European Union, we must explain to them that they cannot hurt the sentiments of 1.3 billion people under the garb of freedom of expression,” the prime minister urged the Islamic world.

Khan said the western world dealt with the issue of Holocaust sensitively as the Jewish community had successfully explained to them that any misinterpretation of the Holocaust gave them pain. But that sensitivity lacked when they talked about the Holy Quran and the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

Moreover, he said, the western world had equated Islam with terrorism which had done tremendous disservice to the Muslim community.

“Religion has nothing to do with terrorism. No religion allows the killing of innocent human beings… This has led to Islamophobia. The moment that is referred to define terrorism, the people in the west could not distinguish between a moderate Muslim and a radical Muslim.”

Suspicions, he said, had been raised against the whole Muslim world. The shooting of 50 Muslims in two New Zealand’s mosques happened because they could not understand that Islam had nothing to do with terrorism, he added.

The prime minister said before the 9/11, around 80 percent of the suicide attacks were carried out by the Tamil Tigers but no one had blamed Hinduism for that. The religion had nothing to do with that because it was a political struggle.

He said in Second World War, when the Japanese pilots blew themselves up on American ships, no one had blamed their religion for it.

Besides causing Islamophobia, he said the OIC’s inability also led to delegitimizing the Muslim political freedom struggles which were termed ‘Islamic radicalism’.

The people of Kashmir, he said, had been carrying out their political struggle for freedom but after the 9/11, it was also dubbed as ‘Islamic radicalism and terrorism’.

Similarly, he said, Israel started oppressing the Palestinians calling their freedom movement as ‘Islamic terrorism’. Therefore, the Muslim world must use the OIC platform to delink terrorism with Islam, he stressed.

The prime minister said the Muslim world was not paying much attention to science and technology despite being on the verge of another industrial revolution with the artificial intelligence and blockchain new technologies coming in.

“We must not be left behind again… We as a Muslim world must spend more of our resources in strengthening ourselves in this field. We must pay more attention to quality education in universities,” he added.

Imran Khan said the OIC, which was also observing its 50 years of establishment, came into being when the Palestinian Muslims were deprived of their homes, and human and democratic rights.

He reiterated that there was no solution to the Palestine issue except the two-state solution. East Jerusalem must become the capital for the Palestinian people and the Golan Heights must be returned as per the 1976 borders as agreed by the international community.

Similarly, he said the people of Kashmir had not been given their right to self-determination as had been guaranteed by the UN Security Council’s resolutions.

The people of Kashmir, he said, had recently suffered a lot of oppression and urged the Muslim world to stand against the oppression going on in the Muslim world.

The prime minister thanked the Saudi leadership for great hospitality and providing them an opportunity to visit the Roza-e-Rasool (PBUH) in Madinah Munawwara.




Joint declaration

Political leaders and heads of state from Islamic nations have condemned countries that have made the “illegal and irresponsible decision” to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

In a joint statement on Saturday, at the end of a summit of the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the leaders called on countries that have moved their embassies to Jerusalem to rethink their strategy which they said constituted “a serious violation of international law and international legitimacy”.

The OIC urged member countries to take “appropriate measures” against countries that move their embassies to Jerusalem.

US President Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, breaking with decades of established protocol, and in May 2018 transferred the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Guatemala followed suit soon afterwards.

“The Palestinian people have the right to achieve their inalienable national rights, including their right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian State,” the final statement said.

Jerusalem is claimed by both Israelis and Palestinians as their capital and the move by the United States was roundly condemned by Palestinians who said the US could no longer portray itself as a neutral mediator between the two sides.



Support for Kashmiris

The statement released by the Foreign Office spokesperson, reiterated “the conference’s principled support for the legitimate right to self determination of the people of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with UN resolutions”.

The final communique of the conference, while referring to the UN Kashmir report of 2018, called for an “expedited establishment of a UN Commission of Inquiry to investigate the grave human rights violations” in Kashmir. It urged India to allow the Commission and other international organisations access to Indian-occupied Kashmir.

According to the statement, the conference approved Yousef Aldobeay of Saudi Arabia as OIC’s special envoy for Jammu and Kashmir, signifying its continued attention and focus on the Kashmir issue.



KSA rejects ‘deal of the century’

The OIC’s statement comes as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner prepares to roll out economic aspects of his long-awaited Middle East peace plan at a conference in Bahrain later this month.

The plan, dubbed the “deal of the century”, has already been rejected by the Palestinians, who say Trump’s policies have shown him to be blatantly biased in favour of Israel.

Kushner, who was in Jerusalem on Friday on the latest leg of a regional tour to sell the plan, had looked to an alliance with Saudi Arabia against Iran as a way to gain Arab support.

But Saudi King Mohammed bin Salman told leaders of the IOC countries gathered at the summit: “The Palestinian cause is the cornerstone of the works of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and is the focus of our attention until the brotherly Palestinian people get all their legitimate rights.

“We reaffirm our unequivocal rejection of any measures that would prejudice the historical and legal status of Quds [Jerusalem].”

The meeting was the third international summit to be held in Saudi Arabia since Thursday.



OIC backing for KSA against Iran

The OIC also backed Saudi Arabia over escalating tensions with Iran, as King Salman warned that “terrorist” attacks in the Gulf region could imperil global energy supplies.

The remark came after sabotage attacks damaged four vessels, two of them Saudi oil tankers, off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and twin Yemeni rebel drone attacks shut down a key Saudi oil pipeline.

“We confirm that terrorist actions not only target the kingdom and the Gulf region, but also target the safety of navigation and world oil supplies,” the king told OIC member states.

Tehran has strongly denied involvement in any of the incidents.

In a tweet just before the start of the summit, the king vowed to confront “aggressive threats and subversive activities”.

“Undermining the security of the kingdom effectively undermines the security of the Arab and Islamic world,” said OIC Secretary-General Yousef bin Ahmed al-Othaimeen, voicing solidarity that was shared by other members.

Analysts say Riyadh’s strategy to counter Tehran is not being helped by divisions within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

“This strategy from the GCC states is flawed. Flawed because in one sense they don’t want to talk to Iran. Iran has asked for a dialogue and they don’t want to sit at the table and talk to Iran and sort out all the issues they have with Iran. There are conflicts between the GCC member states. The GCC is not united and it is fragmented,” Abdullah Baaboob, a Gulf and Middle East analyst told Al Jazeera. 

The OIC summit also urged the US to remove Sudan from its list of state sponsors of “terrorism”.