11 February 2013

Gambia: President Jammeh's Address to the 12th OIC Summit

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The president of the Republic has addressed the 12th Session of the Islamic Summit held from the 6-7th February 2013, in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.

Reflecting on the theme of the Summit, "The Muslim World: New Challenges and Expanding Opportunities," His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji Dr. Yahya Jammeh said it is pertinent to observe that the organisation has been besieged by protracted challenges and unexploited opportunities. He said efforts to overcome the problems afflicting the Muslim Ummah have so far realised modicum successes.

The president stated that the organisation's overall objective of creating a better world in the Muslim Ummah is yet to be fulfilled. President Jammeh also talked about The Gambia's bid to host the OIC Summit in 2019, among other important issues.

Below is the full text of the president's statement.

Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful

Peace and Payers be upon the Truthful and the Trustworthy, and the last of Prophets and Messengers, and may the Mercy of Allah be upon all His Family and Companions

Your Majesties,

Your Highnesses,

Your Excellencies, Heads of State and Government

Secretary General of the OIC

Honourable Ministers

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Assaalamu Alaikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatuho

It is with much pleasure that I address this distinguished body on this special occasion, marking the 12th Summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and I would like to begin by expressing the sincere gratitude of my entire delegation to our Dear Brother Muhammed Morsi , President of the Arab Republic of Egypt for hosting the Summit at a critical time in the history of this prestigious Organisation.

In the same vein, I thank the Government and people of Egypt for their generous hospitality and the excellent facilities placed at our disposal since our arrival in this historic city, the cradle of African and Arab Civilizations. In like manner, I thank the Government of Senegal for steering the affairs of the Organization since the 11th Summit held in Dakar.

I also wish to put on record our appreciation and gratitude to the Secretary General of the OIC, H.E. Mr. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, for the able stewardship and management of the affairs of the Organisation since his assumption of duty as Secretary General.

Mr. Chairman,

Reflecting on the theme of the Summit, "The Muslim World: New Challenges and Expanding Opportunities," it is pertinent to observe that our Organization has been besieged by protracted challenges and unexploited opportunities. Efforts to overcome the problems afflicting the Muslim Ummah have so far realized modicum successes. Honestly, on reflection, we can safely say our overall objectives of creating a better world in the Muslim Ummah is yet to be fulfilled.

Yet, overall, Member States possess incalculable natural and human resources which, if positively utilised, could salvage humankind from the chronic suffering they are compelled to endure. It is paradoxical, therefore, that the wanton destruction of lives and property, as well as the severity of the poverty and starvation that afflict the poor and the weak, are more acute in the developing countries in general, and the Muslim world in particular. This makes a re-evaluation of the Organisation's activities and achievements since 1969 compelling, in order that the intractable challenges that confront us are overcome.

Mr. Chairman,

As I speak, the world is going through many challenges, particularly the Islamic countries. We have all witnessed the trials and tribulations and the dramatic changes that are taking place day after day in this part of the world. We can only face these problems through sustained solidarity and cooperation. What is needed is to muster a unified strategy and objective based on the true tenets of Islam to restore the ideals and great values upon which our Organization is founded.

Mr. Chairman,

It is baffling that we continue to witness Muslims killing one and other, seeing our brothers and sisters suffer, living in shelters and very deplorable conditions. Since the advent of the Iraq war, we have seen one Muslim country after the other fall into turmoil and internal strife with innocent civilians being maimed or killed, mosques being bombed and properties destroyed which is contrary to the teachings of Islam.

During the time of Jihad, the Prophet never destroyed any church or attacked any Christian in the name of Islam.Islam means total submission to the will of ALLAH and ALLAH has enjoined all Muslims to work together, support one and other and give Zakat to the poor and the needy so that even the poor would not suffer.Instead of supporting one and other Muslims are killing each other.

Mr. Chairman,

The Islamic Ummah is the wealthiest of nations and we should thank Allah for that.Unfortunately, these endowments from The Almighty Allah are sometimes being used to kill Muslims and send our children and women into refugee camps. The time has come for our Organisation to stand up to unify the Islamic Ummah. If we, as Muslims, are afraid of defending our religion, defending our Prophet and defending our values as Muslims, then are we truly Muslims? The Supreme Law and Constitution of all Muslims is the Sharia Law and the Holy Quran.

Today we hear people who claim to be Muslims saying bad things about the Supreme Law prescribed for us by Allah. Anybody who claims to be a Muslim and criticizes Sharia cannot really be a Muslim. Do we as Muslims want to go to Allah's heaven or we prefer to be friends of non Muslims. Do we prefer to deviate from the right path and when we die go to hell? Allah says in the Quran "Fear nobody but ME".

If we want to go to heaven we must go by the guidelines set for us by Allah in the Holy Quran. And to make religion clearer for us, Allah gave us Suratul Kafirun, and the verse - " Lakum Deenakum Waliya Deenii"said it all. If we live by it, Muslims would have no cause to fight each other over anything pertaining to religion especially those who do not believe in what we believe and worship as Muslims: you have your own way and I have mine; practice your religion and I practice mine and there will be peace.

Mr. Chairman,

Muslims are suffering in their countries and being humiliated in the non-Muslim world.This should mean one thing to us, that we are failing in our duties and obligations towards our fellow Muslims as enshrined in the tenets of Islam and the teachings of our Prophet. This being the case, let us be resolved here and give ourselvestwelve months time frame to end all conflicts that are ravaging not only our natural resources but our human and material resources and reversing our development.

The Gambia strongly believes that this noble Organisation of ours is the only body that can ensure peace, security and prosperity in OIC Member States. On this note, I am appealing to this noble gathering and Organisation to put an immediate end to all the murderous conflicts that plague the Islamic Ummah and continues to destroy our livelihoods, our countries, our civilization and our noble religion, dividing Muslims instead of unifying them especially the outrageous conflict in Syria.

This Organisation, I believe can commit itself to ending the war in Syria by whatever means necessary because this war, not only is it disastrous but has the potency to engulf the entire sub-region.It is in our collective interest and in the service of Islam to resolve the Syrian conflict by any means and at any cost, without delay.

Mr. Chairman,

Excellencies,

Distinguished Ladies & Gentlemen,

I also appeal to all Muslims to reconcile and also be resolved to put an end to all conflicts within the Islamic Ummah and amongst Muslims. War and carnage are the works of Iblis.War and violence will never solve problems but rather worsen them. I urge all Muslims to replace confrontation, strife and violence with love, patience and dialogue. I think that it is now very clear to every Muslim and non-Muslim alike, that when we fight as Muslims against each other, those who become refugees as a consequence find it difficult to enter into non-Muslim countries as refugees.

Therefore, we should know that if we choose to fight and destroy our countries, we should not be surprised when we find ourselves homeless or hungry. Because we should know that violence and confrontation leads to destruction, and not to development and freedom. We should also remember that in the Quran Allah said that He is with the patient - "Inallaha maha Sabireen". On this note, those who have the means should extend a helping hand to the rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, Somalia and Malian refugees to eradicate their sufferings.

I believe this is the true jihad that we as Muslims should embark on, end violence and suffering, without killing any member of the human race. The Gambia, as small as we are and as poor as we are, would welcome Muslim refugees if the infrastructure is set up and their welfare taken care of by wealthier members of the OIC. I wish we are among the wealthiest members of the Islamic Ummah one day so that we would be in a position to build a greater country to welcome our brothers and sisters who have nowhere to go. We, in The Gambia are known for our hospitality and if anybody can build refugee camps to welcome our Muslim brothers and sisters you are more than welcome.

Mr. Chairman,

Concerning the issues of Palestine, we all know that this intractable problem is caused by the denial of the legitimate rights and aspiration of innocent people fighting for their rights for decades. The Gambia has been very consistent in our support to the Palestinian people in the pursuit of their inalienable and legitimate rights to self-determination and full independence.

As a Member of the UNESCO Executive Board, we welcome the decision by UNESCO to accept the State of Palestine as a Member and also the recent decision by the UN to recognize the State of Palestine as a Member and also the recent decision by the UN to recognize the State of Palestine as a non-member Observer State.

These moves are in the right direction, but a lot more needs to be done. We should continue to put pressure on all concerned, to listen to reason and accord Palestine the legitimacy it deserves.We should also urge our Palestinian brothers and sisters to unite in their struggle.

Mr. Chairman,

The Ummah needs to formulate mechanisms that are geared towards ensuring that we have the necessary instruments for conflict prevention and resolution. To this end, The Gambia proposes for consideration to be given to the establishment of an OIC Security Council to serve as a focal platform in our conceptualization of strategies in responding to and preventing conflicts in our Ummah.

To ensure the effectiveness of this Council, The Gambia further proposes for the creation of an OIC Stand-by Force, for Peace Enforcement and Peace Keeping Operations. Their rapid deployment to conflict areas will enhance our ability to play a leading role in our collective efforts towards peace and stability.

The Ummah as a whole also needs to be steadfast in the promotion of peaceful dispute resolution mechanisms. We must ensure that a body within our Organization is created to ensure that disputes between our nations are amicably resolved. Differences in our interests should not be a pretext to engage in acts of aggression that are detrimental to our collective aspirations; instead, such disputes should be resolved by an OIC Dispute Resolution Committee whose decision would be final. Only in this way can the Islamic Ummah live in peace and stop the bloodshed. We as Muslims and OIC Member States should work for Islam and for each other and not against each other. We as Muslims should protect each other rather than kill each other.

Mr. Chairman,

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

The change in nomenclature of the OIC to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is a strong attestation of the new realisation that the spectrum of our common bonds must be widened to reflect modern realities. The opportunities for cooperation in order to achieve our common destiny traverse a wide array of issues linked to security, economics and finance, scientific research and technological innovation, education and institutional development, among others.

This has precipitated new dynamics that require the willingness of all of us to evolve responsively in policy formulation and the pursuit of our development aspirations. Therefore, the Secretary General merits support in his efforts to fine-tune the policies of the Organization, all of which seek to enable the Ummah to respond positively and effectively to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st Century.

Mr. Chairman,

In this direction, development policies and plans need to be owned and re-oriented towards ensuring a prosperous future for all, putting into consideration the changing patterns of socio-political trends. In particular, the realities of the 21st Century have widened the horizons of the aspirations of the youth, and, as leaders, we should be proactive by institutionalising platforms and policies that respond positively to the ever-changing tides of time.

Furthermore, the Islamic world requires judicious appropriation of the enormous resources the Almighty Allah has showered on Muslim nations, not only to provide a better political environment in the Ummah but also as a launching pad to combat entrenched poverty, underdevelopment, degradation and constant outbreaks of internal strife.

Mr. Chairman,

Before concluding, I must emphasise that as a united front, it is wise that we view our common challenges as opportunities to carve appropriate strategies geared towards meeting the demands of change and reform, based on true faith in ALLAH. Strengthened by faith in Allah, emboldened by our noble values, ideas and objectives and inspired by the Grace and Blessings of the Almighty Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful, we shall certainly overcome.

Mr. Chairman,

Your Majesties

Your Highnesses

Your Excellencies,

Heads of State and Governments

Secretary General of the OIC

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

In conclusion, May I seize this opportunity to inform this noble gathering that further to an official communication to the OIC Secretariat and numerous pronouncements in several High Level OIC meetings, latest of which was in November 2012 at the 39th Session of the Foreign Ministers Meeting in Djibouti, the Government of the Republic of The Gambia hereby strongly reiterates its firm determination and in our bid to host of the 14th Summit of Kings and Heads of State and Government of the Organisation of Islamic Corporationin Banjul, The Gambia after Turkey.

Since the inception of the OIC , the Gambia continues to be a firm supporter of the values and aspirations espoused by the Ummah.The track record of the Gambia's participation in the OIC has demonstrated our confidence in achieving the Ummah's collective aspirations.It is on this basis, that we expressed our intention to be the host of the 14th Islamic Summit.

In view of the fact that Africa is expected to be the host of the 14th Islamic Summit, I am very confident that being the first African country to convey its interest since the year 2000, the Gambia's bid should be given favourable consideration. From the experience of successfully hosting the African Union Summit in 2006, The Gambia can assure you that you will have one of the most successful Summits ever hosted in the history of the OIC if given the chance.

We thank you for all your support and solidarity in our bid to host the 14th OIC Summit and we look forward to seeing you in Banjul, The Gambia - the Smiling Coast of Africa during the said Summit, INSHALLAH.

Finally, I pray that 2013 becomes a year full of joy, harmony, peace, reconciliation and prosperity for all of us and the Muslim Ummah.

I thank you all for your kind attention.

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