H.E. DR. ABDELOUAHED BELKEZIZ, SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE (OIC), TO THE WORLD CONFERENCE AGAINST RACISM
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA
The holding, on the soil of South Africa, of this historic conference against racism is in itself a glowing sign of the victory achieved by your great people over the forces of racial segregation and apartheid. As I greet you and your people, on behalf of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), there is no doubt in my mind that your hosting of such a big conference is yet another consecration of your struggle to ostracize the roots of racism and combat racial discrimination, fanaticism, marginalization and the hatred of others of which there are some remaining pockets in certain parts of the world, despite the fact that the humankind has ushered into the third millennium and in spite of the great accomplishments on the path of liberation of the human being freeing him from the shackles and sequels of the past.
While the United Nations System and numerous other international organizations took action during the past century to put an end to colonialist domination and consecrate human rights in many an international covenant, conventions and universal declarations, the OIC, in its turn, contributed, ever since its inception, more than thirty (30) years ago, to the consolidation of the concepts of equality among humans and Man’s dignity, based on the teachings of the tolerant religion of Islam which advocated such values more than fourteen (14) centuries ago.
Our humble contribution today simply falls within the line of what we are striving for in terms of our negation of the scourge of racism from all its facets and in all its forms. Last year, we proclaimed in the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam that people had equal rights in preserving their dignity and rights without any discrimination on account of race, color, language, gender, religion, political affiliation, social condition or any other consideration.
The Organization’s efforts were obvious in promoting the concept of integration and cooperation resting upon justice and non discrimination through its initiative to launch the idea of "Dialogue Among Civilizations within the framework of its program adopted as a basic paper for the ongoing discussions at the United Nations which declared the present year as "The Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations."
The colonialists’ invasions engendered and brought with them different kinds of human slavery, a whole program of racial discrimination, untold exploitation, plundering of natural resources and blasting of the very texture of social relations amongst innumerable peoples. Later on, racial practices nurtured the ugly feelings of spite, blind fanaticism, the hatred of fellow humans and the so-called ethnic cleansing. Thus, mankind suffered all sorts of pain, predicaments and injustice to an incredible extent.
It is high time for modern Man whose awareness, horizons and sense of humanity have been greatly enhanced to endeavor to remove the stain of racism, discrimination, the hatred of others and ethnic cleansing, which stand as a blot in the face of humanity at large, to take deterrent measures against all those indulging in such evil practices, be them individuals, groups or governments. Turning a blind eye or a deaf ear to such crimes can only create powder kegs of tension, disputes and conflicts worldwide as best exemplified and evidenced by what occurred in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo in recent years and what is happening in Jammu and Kashmir, Palestine and other areas of the world.
The racist policy of Israeli politicians, based on haughtiness, cynicism, so-called racial superiority, the idea of chosen people and the ensuing nonchalant attitude towards international legitimacy, is a policy of a bygone epoch – an epoch wherein Israel feels that it can give itself the right to use brute and wantonly force against unarmed civilians in their own occupied territories, massacre them, assassinate their politicians, blow up their homes, apply collective sanctions against them, strangle their freedom, starve them, close or seal their sanctuaries and judaize their cities – ractices that do not only fall within the categories of human right breaches and violation of international humanitarian laws and norms, but of which most are considered as part of the war crimes unambiguously singled out in international covenants. All that has to be met by your conference with the appropriate response and effective deterrence.
Likewise, we believe that it is legitimate to compensate peoples for what they endured in terms of colonialism, slavery and plundering of their resources, especially that similar redress was lavishly paid to one community from amongst the victims of the holocaust. The case of the holocaust cannot be permitted to become the only one of its kind, lest we set yet another pattern of racism ethnic discrimination.
In conclusion, we look forward, this year – The Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations and of rejection of racism and discrimination – to building a better future for all members of the humankind as they enter the third millennium, based on the common principles of humanism, international justice, respect of the person’s dignity as well as tolerance and mutual recognition of values. We think that such aspirations have to be the shared objective of the international collectivity which is capable, where a real political will is present, to take the human being of the 21st century unto a new world of authentic humanity devoid of such practices as injustice, racialism, discrimination, ethnic fanaticism, etc., to rise to the level of the humankind’s great achievements in other aspects of life.
Wassalamu ‘alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh