OIC Secretary General sends letter to President Obama on his re-election: Peace in the Middle East, socio-economic development and combating religious intolerance are priority for US-OIC collaboration
Posted by Human Rights in Islamic Countries on January 28, 2013
23/01/2013 | The Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, sent a letter to the President of the United States, Barack Obama, on the occasion of his re-election. In it, Ihsanoglu recalls the great strides of US-OIC collaboration on a range of issues during the past four years of Obama’s administration including health, humanitarian aid and women’s empowerment in the Muslim world and that he looks forward to furthering the cooperation in key areas of mutual interest and concern in the upcoming four years. He underlined that peace in the Middle East, socio-economic development and combating religious intolerance are priority areas for the OIC.
The letter was handed to President Obama’s Special Envoy to the OIC, Rashad Hussein, during the visit of Hussein to OIC General Secretariat in Jeddah today, 23 January 2013. The Secretary General stated in his letter to President Obama that his reelection is testimony to the trust placed in his dynamic leadership by the American people and could be viewed as a vote of confidence in his policies signifying ‘change’ with particular reference to the policy of engagement with the Muslim world. He pointed out that OIC, being essentially a political organization operating along the principles of moderation and modernization, aims at sustaining a policy of engagement and not confrontation.
Ihsanoglu stressed that the Palestinian issue remains at the heart of the most pressing concerns to the OIC and the international community, which requires firm commitment by the US, and that the status quo of political stalemate and continuation of Israeli occupation and settlement policies in the occupied Palestinian territory including East Jerusalem are neither acceptable nor viable. Ihsanoglu stated that upgrading the status of Palestine to non-member observer state at the UN General Assembly last November is a golden opportunity that should not be lost and urged Obama to accelerate the realization of peace and stability.
Ihsanoglu referred to Obama’s speech to the Muslim world in Cairo in 2009, which he attended, calling it visionary and a positive statement with far reaching implications that raised expectations for a common future anchored in mutual respect and understanding. In this context, Ihsanoglu mentioned that OIC will continue to combat extremism, terrorism, intolerance and incitement to hatred and violence on religious grounds. The consensual passage of UN Human Rights Council resolution 16/18 on combating religious intolerance, which codified the eight points identified in his address to the 15th Session of the Human Rights Council, has been widely acknowledged as a positive development and a triumph of multilateralism, Ihsanoglu added. It must also be seen as a poster child of OIC-US cooperation, he said, pointing out to the Istanbul Process that he initiated with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to build on the consensus achieved.
The Secretary General also highlighted the issue of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar in his letter. While he acknowledged Obama’s efforts to bring the issue of the Rohingya Muslim community to the attention of the national authorities during his recent visit to the country, he urged Obama to support protect the human rights of the Rohingya ethnic minority and to restore their citizenship.