Malaysia and Turkey defend the Muslim summit. Hosting a Muslim leaders ‘ conference, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad lamented the state of Islam and defended the meeting that Saudi Arabia shunned and attacked for undermining the broader Islamic Cooperation Organization (OIC).
The Muslim world’s tensions were self-evident as only about 20 countries sent leaders or delegations to the Kuala Lumpur Summit, although all 57 OIC members were invited.
The reluctance of the Saudi king to attend and Pakistan’s late withdrawal from the event had left the hosts struggling to soothe tense ties.
Mahathir said in welcoming remarks that the Kuala Lumpur Summit was meant to understand why Islam, Muslims and their countries were “in a state of crisis, weak and useless of this great religion.”
The extent to which the leaders will address major geopolitical problems concerning the Muslim world, ranging from the age-old disputes in the Middle East and Kashmir to the wars in Syria and Yemen, to the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the suspected persecution of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang region of China, was uncertain.
Mahathir said Saturday’s Summit would discuss the world’s perceptions of Islam, the rise of Islamophobia, the decline of Islamic culture, and governance reforms required by Muslim nations.
“We do not discriminate or exclude anybody,” he said in his welcome address, watched by leaders like Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Qatari Emir Sheik Tamim bin Hamid Al-Thani.
“We are trying to start small and if these suggestions, concepts, and solutions are appropriate and workable, then we hope to take it into consideration to the larger platform.
A similar tone was taken by Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdogan.
“We will have the opportunity to talk openly about our problems, from Islamophobia to terrorism, tensions, internal struggles ravaging our country, and sectarian and ethnic disputes,” said Erdogan at the summit.
OIC claimed that it was against the interests of the Islamic community to convene meetings outside the Saudi body, which has been the collective voice of the Muslim community for decades.
While mentioning the OIC by name, Erdogan said a lack of regulation was the biggest problem faced by platforms putting the Islamic world together.
“If we have not yet made any progress on the Palestinian cause, if we are still unable to stop the abuse of our wealth, if we are still unable to say’ stop’ the Muslim world’s division over sectarianism, that’s why.
Some observers have speculated that the reluctance of Saudi Arabia to participate stemmed from a fear of being diplomatically alienated by regional rivals Iran, Qatar, and Turkey, all attending the summit.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, concerned about taking sides, chose to stay away from the Kuala Lumpur Summit.
“Pakistan wants to be part of the solution and not part of the problem,” Minister of Information Firdous Ashiq Awan told Islamabad reporters. News report on Malaysia and Turkey defend the Muslim summit.