Multi-dimensional Security and OIC

Honorable Senator Mushahid Hussain, Excellency Dr. Sayed Ali Mohammed Mousavi, Chairman Mr. Suleyman Sensoy, Dear participants, Ladies and Gentlemen Assalamu Alaikum

On behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, the OIC, let me start by commending the holding of this 6th Think Tanks Forum of the Islamic Countries on "Addressing Multidimensional Security Challenges"; a timely and pertinent theme to be deliberated on, in the historic city of Islamabad. Our gratitude and thanks to the Organizers for their warm hospitality and nice arrangements.

I would also like to take this opportunity to convey the best wishes of Mr. Iyad Ameen Madani, the Secretary General of the OIC to all of you, who could not be present personally at this august Forum due to some prescheduled commitments.

Excellencies, peace and stability of the contemporary world are marred with complex and difficult security challenges. At present most of the world conflicts and trouble spots are within the geographical boundary of the OIC states. The old unresolved issues with potential to erupt again; scourge of terrorism, extremism, ethnic and sectarian conflicts, organized crimes and inter-religious strives; issues of poverty, injustice, violation of human rights and bad governance – all these have created an environment full of threat, uncertainty, conflict and instability not only for our present generation but also for generations to come.

The OIC actively advocates the view that due attention, analysis and concrete plans of action must address the multifaceted dimensions of present days' challenges. Top among them is to understand and address the political and socio-economic contexts that bring forth conditions conducive to the spread of security risks and instability in the Muslim World such as continued economic deprivation, exclusion, separation and marginalization of people, poverty, lack of opportunities, misguided development, educational structures and influences and interferences of foreign interest.

In order to tackle such underlying causes, the OIC has taken various steps to promote good governance and respect for human rights as well as encourage economic, social, cultural, scientific and educational progress. These steps and initiatives include inter alia establishment of the OIC Independent Permanent Commission of Human Rights (IPHRC) and Peace, Security and Mediation Unit (PSMU) as expressions of OIC’s commitment towards bringing peace and stability in the Muslim World. In this context, particular mention should be made to the establishment in November 2014, a network of think tanks from the OIC Member States in order to utilize their expertise to the benefit of policy formulation of the OIC to tackle the challenges it faces.

It is, however, evident that the mere establishment of structures would not be sufficient to respond to the security challenges without having specific measures taking into consideration the unique characteristics and sensitivities of Muslim societies and communities. Therefore, the OIC is in the way of initiating and implementing specific measures, such as:

Taking position that all must recognize, apologize for and ratify the historical injustices done to peoples who suffered under colonialism; and all must end the denial of the rights of peoples to self-determination in situation of current foreign occupation;

Examining the potential of external actors influencing the situations which pose security challenges for the Muslim World for the purpose of serving their own political agenda;

Looking into the fact as to how much mindless and ideologically tinted media coverage have contributed to widening the gap among cultures, races and ethnic groups;

Working in areas of sectarian conflicts to crystalize a new paradigm to confront and remedy the causes of sectarian violence;

Seeking ways to empower youth and other communities at risk of exploitation by terrorist groups through introducing socio-economic development programs in order to make them less susceptible to recruitment and radicalization;
Holding, through the Fiqh Academy, an organ of the OIC, a series of meetings, workshops, symposia and conferences of Ulama, Think Tanks, intelligentsia and social scientists to focus on and dismantle the discourse of extremism and sectarianism;

Striving to build bridges with Muslim communities outside of the Member States stressing the Islamic values of moderation, justice, equality and tolerance.

Distinguished participants, I would be amiss not to underline two crucial issues while discussing multidimensional security challenges. Particular focus needs to be given to the increasing trend of Islamophobia and spread of violent extremism. In this context, it is of utmost importance to clearly understand the root causes, the underlining currents, the formative ideas that give rise to Islamophobia and create terrorism.

The OIC Member States firmly stand by their principled position against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations committed by whomsoever and wherever; and their unequivocal rejection of all attempts to associate any country, race, religion, culture or nationality with terrorism.

The OIC documents, among other things, recognized "the purport of the lofty essence of Islam to ultimately bring the world out of the darkness of ignorance, oppression, and tyranny into the light of truth, justice, developing sciences and knowledge, and peaceful coexistence." and reaffirmed that Islam is the religion of moderation, tolerance and peace. Nonetheless, Islam has often been singled out by some as particularly and intrinsically violent. Critics associate it with extreme intolerance and claim that it breeds radicalism. To this end, we have to strive to delegitimize the narratives of dominance, occupation, terrorism and extremism that claim legitimacy of their violent and manipulative acts in the name of Islam as well as any other religion, ideology or cultural superiority.

Islam and Muslims have often been put as rivals to the concept of freedom of expression, whereas, we, as Muslims, believe freedom of opinion and expression is not only fundamental to the realization of the right to freedom of religion but also for the promotion and protection of wider human rights. But we also believe that no freedom is absolute and as established by the existing jurisprudence, it must be exercised with full responsibility.

Excellencies ladies and gentlemen, let me conclude by underscoring that it is us, Muslims, are among those most widely impacted by the security challenges of present days. We suffer from those groups that have kidnapped Islam in a most inaccurate and illiterate readings of its texts; we are under bombardment of ideological and Islamphobic voices that stigmatize, outcast and blame Islam and Muslims for the ills of the world; and we have been at the receiving end of traditional colonialism, neo-colonialism, political discourse of neo-liberalism and static political environment.

Thus, the OIC, as an Organization of Islamic Cooperation, have every interest to join, contribute to, and be in the forefront of all efforts in dealing with these challenges as understood in their multifaceted nature, sources and manifestations.

Once more thank you for providing this platform that has the potential to be effective if it brings our visions together and look at our collective role in effectively addressing multidimensional security challenges faced by today's World.

I wish you all successful deliberations in the coming two days.

( Amanul Haq, Director in the Cabinet and Head of Peace Security and Mediation Unit (OIC) | Opening Speech | 6th Think Tanks Forum of the Islamic Countries | 7th March 2015, Islamabad )
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