His Majesty the King Addresses Speech to 15th OIC Summit Conference

His Majesty the King Addresses Speech to 15th OIC Summit Conference

Banjul, 04/05/2024 (MAP) - His Majesty King Mohammed VI, may God assist Him, addressed a speech to the 15th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Summit Conference, which opened on Saturday in Banjul (The Gambia), under the theme "Enhancing Unity and Solidarity through Dialogue for Sustainable Development". Here follows the full text of the Royal Speech, read out by the Minister of Endowments and Islamic Affairs, Ahmed Toufiq.

"Praise be to God,

May peace and blessings be upon the Prophet, His Kith and Kin Your Excellency Mr. Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of the Gambia, Your Majesties,

Your Excellencies, Your Highnesses,

Your Excellency, Mr. Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I should like to express my sincere thanks and deep appreciation to my brother, His Excellency Mr. Adama Barrow, President of the Republic of the Gambia, for the invitation to attend this Islamic Summit, which is being hosted by our sister nation, the Republic of the Gambia, and for the excellent measures taken to ensure its success. My thanks also go to my venerable brother, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud - may God protect him - and to my dear brother, His Royal Highness, Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, Crown Prince and Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, for the commendable efforts our sister nation made while chairing the Fourteenth Islamic Summit to uphold the causes of the Islamic world and achieve the goals pursued by our Organization as a rallying platform for Muslim countries and peoples.

Your Majesties, Your Excellencies,

Your Highnesses, This fifteenth Summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation is being held at a delicate and difficult international juncture, which is characterized by multiple crises and a worrying increase in the number of hotbeds of tension in the Islamic world, not to mention an upsurge in abhorrent security and terrorist threats and the spread of extremist and sectarian tendencies which lead to violence.

This Islamic Summit is also being held at a time when several regions in our Islamic world are still experiencing political and military tensions as well as challenges to their security. This situation is having adverse effects on people’s living conditions in a number of OIC Member States, especially in Africa. Our Organization and its specialized agencies are therefore called upon to strive doubly hard through their efforts and initiatives to assist these countries, in keeping with the spirit of brotherhood and solidarity among Muslims, making sure they benefit from the development programs and plans endorsed by our summits and meetings.

Given that the Kingdom of Morocco is itself an African nation, and considering my country’s close, longstanding human ties and age-old spiritual bonds with African sister countries, I wish to insist on the need to devote more attention and care to the least developed OIC African Member Countries in order to help them rise to the various challenges affecting their development and progress. As we all know, these countries are facing increasing threats to their energy and food security as well as to their economic growth. This situation is having a negative impact on their stability and is worsening their social and economic conditions.

With that in mind, and being convinced of the importance of South-South cooperation, I have launched the Atlantic Initiative as a platform for African partnership. The main goal is to strengthen cooperation and integration between the African countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean and thus promote peace, stability and shared prosperity in the region. I have also announced the launching of an initiative at the international level to enable the countries of the Sahel to have access to the Atlantic Ocean.

As for the Morocco-Nigeria Gas Pipeline project, it is rooted in the same spirit of solidarity, since it is a project designed to promote regional integration, a joint economic take-off and a genuine industrial dynamic in the Atlantic region. Your Majesties,

Your Excellencies, Your Highnesses,

It is a fact that the Organization of the Islamic Conference saw the light of day 55 years ago, in the Kingdom of Morocco, after an extremist had burned down the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which is especially dear to the hearts of Muslims around the world. However, the OIC founders did not mean to set up a religious organization. Rather, the project was rooted in a belief in the need to disseminate the teachings of our pristine religion and of universal human values as a way to mobilize people, make the voice of Islamic countries heard, and achieve genuine, practical solidarity by fulfilling the aspirations of our peoples for peace, progress and sustainable collective prosperity.

Therefore, the concept of solidarity we yearn for today does not stop at defending the integrity and unity of our faith with words and good intentions; it also includes ensuring respect for pluralism and the particularities of nations, fostering trust and focusing on collective work. More than anything, our time-honoured Organization is a space within which the Ummah innovates, plans, acts and comes together to implement practical projects, keeping in mind the ultimate ambition of ensuring international peace and security, sustainable development, progress and collective well-being.

It is my firm belief that our countries - taken individually or as regional groupings - have the natural and human resources that enable them to achieve the status of a bloc that fosters knowledge and promotes stability and prosperity, for their own benefit and that of their surroundings and the world at large. The members of our Organization are not immune to what is happening around them. They are facing serious, next-generation challenges, as reflected by new economic, political, security, environmental and health crises. Our countries are therefore called upon to shore up their ability to respond to these challenges and adapt, on a continuous basis, to the turmoil affecting the world economy due to the pressure on global supply chains resulting from wars and the threat to maritime shipping lanes.

This situation therefore requires innovative approaches as well as novel, feasible programs to mitigate the impact of these crises and reduce their effects. Meeting the challenges of sustainable, comprehensive human development and attaining economic well-being require that we explore opportunities for complementarity and integration so as to achieve common benefits and implement our objectives under the eighteen priority areas of the next ten-year program of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. Chief among these is increasing the share of intra-regional trade in member countries’ foreign trade relations, and removing obstacles which hinder the promotion of commerce between OIC Member Countries. Moreover, expanding the scope of joint Islamic action and investing in the national capabilities of our countries require a realistic, constructive assessment of the mechanisms used in implementing our Organization’s work programme, in addition to upgrading the legal framework to make sure it is adapted to the needs of our societies in the areas of investment and trade, and enabling productive sectors to achieve the economic integration required.

Your Majesties, Your Excellencies,

Your Highnesses, I am sure you are aware that fanaticism, discrimination, extremism, isolationism, and rejection of the other have become widespread phenomena within communities that reject anything relating to the revealed religions, especially the Message of Prophet Muhammad – may peace and blessings be upon Him. I am deeply concerned by the upsurge in hate speech and by the growing number of victims of this scourge, which fuels the cycle of violence and instability and poses a serious threat to peace and security in many regions.

In this regard, I wish to recall and to condemn, in the strongest terms, certain acts perpetrated in recent years by some individuals who burned or desecrated copies of the Holy Qur’an. These acts drew only a passive, disinterested reaction on the part of the official authorities in some countries where these events took place, despite the fact that more than 1.5 billion Muslims were deeply offended by such evil deeds. Since when has freedom of expression meant offending others and hurting their religious feelings?

How can some countries take pride in the absolute protection of freedoms, at a time when those freedoms are being used to foment discord, burn down bridges of communication and understanding, and undermine the foundations of coexistence? Isn’t contempt for Muslims and ignorance of the lofty values of Islam the best ally for miserable personal propensities and exclusion-based political agendas that constitute the very foundation of Islamophobia?

Sadly, what we have witnessed in terms of hostility to the Islamic faith, and the use of that hostility in electoral outbidding tactics in some societies, is nothing but a clash of ‘ignorances’, and not a clash of civilizations.

I very much hope that the resolution on promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue and tolerance in countering hate speech, which was submitted by the Kingdom of Morocco and adopted unanimously on 25 July 2023 by the United Nations General Assembly, will help achieve a qualitative leap in the efforts aimed at curbing extremism and tackling hate speech. Once again, I am calling for vigilance, resolve and coordinated action to stand up to these abusive violations, with the same commitment that is ours towards the principles of tolerance, inter-faith, intercultural dialogue and respect for the other, in keeping with the words of the Almighty: “O mankind ! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of God is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And God has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”

Your Majesties, Your Excellencies,

Your Highnesses, Following the brutal aggression on Gaza, my heart bleeds for the proud Palestinian people, who now live in extremely dangerous conditions that are a stain on the world’s conscience. Further compounding the situation is the increasing frequency of systematic attacks by extremist settlers on the West Bank, at the behest of Israeli government officials.

In keeping with my responsibilities as Monarch of the Kingdom of Morocco - a country whose citizens yearn for truth, justice, solidarity and coexistence with other peoples - and in my capacity as Chairman of the al-Quds Committee, I reiterate my urgent call for an immediate, sustainable and comprehensive end to these unprecedented acts of aggression, and for allowing unfettered access of humanitarian aid to the entire Gaza Strip. In this regard, and considering the current humanitarian catastrophe - the likes of which our contemporary world has never witnessed before - I took the initiative, in my capacity as Chairman of the al-Quds Committee, and in keeping with the obligation of solidarity underpinning our Organization’s action, and also as a contribution to the humanitarian aid provided by other sister and friendly countries, to ensure the delivery of significant quantities of aid to our Palestinian brothers. That aid was delivered directly to Gaza and to al-Quds, as well as also through the Rafah crossing, in coordination with the Egyptian authorities concerned.

Notwithstanding the difficulties faced, the work carried out by the Bayt Mal al-Quds Agency, under my guidance and supervision, has been enhanced to implement socio-economic projects for the benefit of the inhabitants of al-Quds, and also to provide assistance to some hospitals. On a different note, I should like to stress that the current talk about the future of the Gaza Strip will make sense only when attacks stop, and when all forms of suffering experienced by the Palestinian people are lifted. The Gaza Strip is a Palestinian matter; it is also part of the unified Palestinian territories, which must enjoy peace and independence, in keeping with a two-state solution and in accordance with international resolutions.

I therefore call for an end to any provocative action that further inflames the conflict, and for stopping the illegitimate, unilateral Israeli measures affecting the occupied Palestinian territories, including al-Quds al-Sharif and the holy al-Aqsa Mosque, and which are designed to change the legal and cultural status of the city of al-Quds al-Sharif. I also categorically reject all forms of forced displacement, collective punishment, and reprisals suffered by our Palestinian brothers and sisters.

Continuing to manage the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the absence of a realistic, sustainable solution has generated frustration and loss of hope. It has also led to a series of appalling catastrophes and humanitarian tragedies, in addition to increasing the possibility of dangerous ripple effects, not only on stability and peace in the Middle East, but also on global security. I therefore call on the countries that can influence the settlement process of this conflict to live up to their historic responsibility, uphold reason and logic, and work hard to put an end to this catastrophic situation. I urge them to help the region emerge from the cycle of violence, and from exclusion and the fait accompli policy. I also encourage them to bring about the right conditions for relaunching a genuine peace process that can lead to an internationally agreed upon two-state solution.

As for the conflicts affecting our brothers in some Islamic countries, such as Libya, Mali, Somalia, Sudan, among others, I call for dialogue and reconciliation between the parties in order to put an end to these conflicts and preserve the sovereignty of these sister nations as well as their national and territorial integrity. May God guide our steps to achieve what is best for the Muslim Ummah.

Thank you. Wassalamu alaikum warahmatullah wabarakatuh."

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