OIC Press Release


6 April 2003


Intergovernmental Group of Experts on the Situation of Muslim Communities and Minorities in non-Member States Holds its Eighth Meeting at the OIC Secretariat in Jeddah

The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Dr. Abdelouahed Belkeziz, has outlined the contributions made by the OIC over the years to support Muslim Minorities in non-OIC Member States. He also enumerated the vital projects executed by the Organization’s Islamic Solidarity Fund in the countries where the minorities live spread across the continents in the areas of building Islamic Universities, Social, Health, Educational and Cultural Centres as well as assistance to refugees.

These were contained in the Secretary General’s address to the Eighth Meeting of the Intergovernmental Group of Experts to study the situation of Muslim Minorities and Communities in non-OIC Member States. The Secretary General’s speech was read on his behalf by Ambassador Ezat Mufti, Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs at the opening of proceedings of the meeting on Sunday 4 Safar 1424H (6 April 2003).

Dr. Belkeziz stressed that the General Secretariat was following the conditions of Muslim Communities either through direct contacts with the leadership of the Communities or by keeping abreast of their news. The Organization also examines the difficulties faced by these Communities and makes necessary contacts with local and international bodies to guarantee the interests of Muslim Communities and Minorities and the respect of their right and identity, Dr. Belkeziz added. He also alluded in particular to the growing problems of many Muslim Communities and Minorities in the West, under the prevailing conditions that resulted from the events of September 11, 2001and its fallouts, which took the form of anti-Islamic campaigns and discriminatory measures against Muslim Minorities. “Contrary to that, we urge Muslim Minorities to continue to offer a fine role model for other ethnic groups in their host countries; to represent the tolerant face of Islam; to abide by the laws of their host countries and be utterly dedicated to the prosperity of all. It is in this way that they can win the hearts and minds of their societies, distinguish themselves and exalt their faith”, Dr. Belkeziz submitted.

In concluding his speech, the Secretary General appealed to Member States of the Organization to accord greater interest to the causes of Muslim Minorities in non-Member States at the level of their bilateral relations so as to complement the efforts being expended by the General Secretariat at the level of its bilateral relations with countries hosting Muslim Minorities. This, he said, was to assist the Minorities to preserve their rights, their interests and their Islamic identity.

The Chairman of the Session and representative of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mr. Zuiheir Al-Idrisi, had delivered a speech in which he explained the importance that the Organization of Islamic Conference attached to the question of protecting Muslim Communities and Minorities in non-OIC Member States. He called upon Members of the Group to appropriate solutions to the question of Minorities and the problems they are faced with, to offer proposals to improve religious and living conditions and to raise their cultural and social standards.

The Group will raise a report containing its recommendations on these matters to the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers at its Thirtieth Session to be held in the Islamic Republic of Iran in May.