NNA - The Organization of Islamic Cooperation convened an open-ended Extraordinary Meeting of the OIC Executive Committee at its headquarters in Jeddah on Tuesday, 31 January 2023, to express the organization's common stance against the recent desecration of The Holy Qur'an in Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark as well as to discuss on possible actions that the OIC could take against the perpetrators of the despicable Islamophobic attacks.
During the meeting, the Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, H.E. Mr. Hissein Brahim Taha, reiterated his dismay at the provocative acts done by far-right activists, emphasizing that such actions are criminal acts perpetrated with the main intention to target Muslims, to insult their sacred religion, values, and symbols. He said that the relevant governments must take severe counter-measures, especially because such provocations have been committed repeatedly by far-right extremists in their countries.
The OIC Secretary-General stated that the intentional act of desecrating the Holy Qur'an and insulting Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) must not be seen as just an ordinary incident of Islamophobia. He said such an act is a direct insult to the entire 1.6 billion Muslim population. Mr. Brahim Taha hence called all stakeholders to take firm action so that the similar provocation will not reoccur in the future.
For his part, the Saudi Permanent Representative to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Dr. Saleh Al-Suhaibani, pointed out that the meeting comes to express unified positions against the recent desecration and burning of the Noble Qur'an, which constitutes a provocation to the feelings of millions of Muslims, fuels strife and serves the advocates of extremism.
He stressed that these actions could only be considered an insult and contempt for all Muslims, indicating that these despicable acts blatantly contradict the human, moral and religious principles and values of all peoples who love peace and coexistence.
"The recurrence of these heinous acts in more than one place raises many questions about the negligence and failure of some governments in limiting the phenomenon of Islamophobia and taking the necessary measures to stop provocations and punish their perpetrators under the pretext of freedom of expression, but we all know that these freedoms are restricted when it comes to some issues," Al-Suhaibani added.
He stressed that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia had expressed its condemnation and absolute rejection of these provocative actions against the feelings of millions of Muslims in various parts of the world.
"The Kingdom renews its firm positions that call for spreading the tolerant values of Islam, which are based on dialogue, coexistence, and the rejection of all the causes of extremism and hatred."
He called for serious qualitative action through the OIC and its institutions to highlight the pivotal role that Islam played in the development and prosperity of many peoples and civilizations throughout history and to work to spread the message of Islam to the world by organizing cultural exhibitions and holding influential events.
"The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, as the president of the Islamic Summit and the Executive Committee, hopes that this meeting will come up with a joint action and take a unified Islamic position within the framework of the OIC to stop these despicable acts, activate the role of the OIC Islamophobia Observatory and push the OIC's offices abroad to work in this direction," Al-Suhaibani said.
The Permanent Representative of the Republic of Türkiye to the OIC, Ambassador Mehmet Metin Eker, said that Türkiye strongly condemns the recent despicable aggressions against the Holy Quran Al-Kareem in Stockholm (January 21st), The Hague (January 22nd) and Kopenhagen (January 27th).
"Unfortunately, the failure of the Swedish authorities to take the necessary precautions against the attack on the Holy Qur'an on January 21st has encouraged similar attacks in the Netherlands and Denmark afterwards," he added.
The Permanent Representative of Türkiye warned that "hatred against Islam has reached an alarming level in many parts of the world, particularly in Europe. We observe with great concern how far-right politicians use anti-Islam and xenophobic rhetoric for their own narrow agenda. Resorting to such populism paves the way for racist attacks against Muslims."
He stressed that the attempts to denigrate the sanctity of the Holy Quran Al-Kareem, as well as other sacred values and symbols of Islam, including the Holy Prophet (PBUH), under the guise of freedom of expression are contrary to the spirit of certain international legal documents on human rights such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
"The ICCPR clearly stipulates in article 19 that the right of freedom of expression "carries with it special duties and responsibilities" towards others. Article 19 also includes the obligation not to carry out acts of hate and not to incite people to violence," Ambassador Mehmet added.
He emphasized that The OIC and its Member States have the moral and political responsibility to act collectively and show a common stance against the recent desecration of our Holy Book, the Qur'an al-Kareem.
He called on the ambassadors of the OIC Member States in the respective capitals where vile acts against the Holy Quran Al-Kareem and other Islamic holy symbols take place, to collectively make efforts with respect to the national parliaments, media, civil society organizations as well as the governmental institutions.
"In addition to that, we call on the OIC Missions in New York, Geneva and Brussels to take the initiative to address in the respective international organizations, to which they are accredited to, these acts of hatred against Islam and its sacred symbols."
The Permanent Representative of Türkiye also called for strengthening the Islamophobia Observatory in order to efficiently engage with the international partners and better follow up.