Extract from “The Journal” Issued by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)
— Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu (Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference)
The Problem of Islamophobia
One of the biggest threats to global peace and security in our present time is the scourge of Islamophobia. It is a matter of great concern not only to the Muslim world but also to humanity itself that the issue of Islamophobia is growing at an alarming rate. Today the Muslims are faced with a formidable challenge to counter an orchestrated campaign that is active in defaming Islam and distorting its sacred values of peace, tolerance and acknowledging the other, that lies at the basis of the Islamic faith. The danger is being exacerbated by media misreporting and provocations under the pretext of freedom of expression.
Islam has been a pioneer in championing democratic freedoms. Freedom of expression is sacrosanct but it cannot be a license to hurt and abuse the sentiments and feelings held sacred by people of different faiths. To ignore or negate this fundamental value would be at the peril of civilized existence.
It is unfortunate that a section of the global media and vested groups have chosen to stigmatize Muslims as terrorists and extremists. What is more outrageous is that some of the groups are now engaged in corrupting the minds of the young and cultivating hatred and prejudices by organizing symposiums in different colleges and universities in the US by equating Islam with Fascism. A great harm has been done by keeping alive a mistrust of Islam in the west through the inflammatory writings and blasphemous caricatures of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
The negative reports emanating from the West have more than often been the result of ignorance and insufficient knowledge of Islam and Muslims. Many reports have been on hearsay and distorted information.
There is therefore an urgent need for the international community to develop an awareness to counter this unholy campaign and muster the necessary political will to take collective action to counter Islamophobia for the sake of peaceful coexistence of people of all faiths and cultural backgrounds.
Meeting the Challenge of Islamophobia
Given this background, the OIC has taken upon itself to meet the challenge of countering Islamphobia in all its aspects. The OIC remains resolute in its condemnation of Islamophobia. At the same time, we will remain proactive in raising global awareness about the true values of Islam that are based on the principles of tolerance, peace and respect for religious beliefs of others. The Member States of the OIC have sent out a strong message that Islam and Muslims are opposed to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and against oppression and brutal suppression of legitimate struggles for self determination.
OIC and the International Community on Islamophobia
The OIC is ready to join hands with the international community to develop a culture of peace and understanding among civilizations. In my statements during the ongoing 62nd Session of the UN General Assembly and also in my bilateral meetings with leaders of the Member States and western countries as well in my interventions at several reputed American think tanks in Washington DC and New York, I have underscored the dangers of Islamophobia in no uncertain terms. I believe that it falls on governments and the civil society of all countries to disseminate the message of tolerance and understanding down to the grass roots of society. In doing so, we will be able to form an Alliance of Civilizations conducive to permit our future generations to live in peaceful coexistence and harmony.