On Monday 23 September 2019, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) held four Contact Group meetings at the level of Foreign Ministers on Peace and Dialogue, Muslims in Europe, the Aggression of the Republic of Armenia on the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Sierra Leone. The contact groups all convened on the sidelines of the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
In his statement to the meeting of the OIC Contact Group on Peace and Dialogue, the Secretary General, Dr. Yousef A. Al-Othaimeen, reaffirmed the OIC’s unequivocal rejection of justification of or recourse to hatred, violence and intolerance on the basis of misguided religious beliefs, thus jeopardizing global peace and security. He stated that negative stereotyping and racial discrimination against Muslims and denial of their basic human rights to cohabit in peace is a very serious contemporary challenge.
The Secretary General affirmed that the OIC continues to warn that Islamophobia has reached an alarming level. He said that the first meeting of the Contact Group held in Jakarta in July 2019 prepared a comprehensive Plan of Action on Islamophobia, Religious Discrimination, Intolerance and Hatred Towards Muslims 2020-2023, including three main goals: namely strengthening the role of the OIC Islamophobia Observatory, the promotion of international or multilateral cooperation, and the promotion of constructive engagements and dialogue with various stakeholders.
Concerning Muslims in Europe, Al-Othaimeen said that Muslims in many parts of Europe are facing challenging times and continue to experience discrimination because of xenophobic populism that continues to make its mark on the contemporary political climate in Europe, which in return fuels anti-immigrant rhetoric.
In his statement to the meeting, which was delivered on his behalf by Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Al-Dobeay, the Secretary General sent a message to European leaders emphasizing the need to draw lessons from the events in New Zealand and take concrete steps to address hate speech and anti-Muslim sentiment before they lead to acts of violence. He further commended H.E. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who took great efforts to demonstrate sympathy, compassion and concern for the Muslim community in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on two mosques in her country.
In the Meeting of the Contact Group on the Aggression of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Secretary General reaffirmed in his statement delivered on his behalf by the Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Al-Dobeay, the OIC’s solidarity with and continued support for the Republic of Azerbaijan, as well as its endeavor to contribute to peaceful settlement of the crisis. Al-Othaimeen said that the OIC General Secretariat is following up with deep concern the suffering of more than one million Azerbaijani IDPs and refugees. It has urged Member States and its organs to provide the necessary financial and humanitarian assistance to those affected in Azerbaijan.
In the meeting of the Contact Group on Sierra Leone, the Secretary General commended in his statement delivered on his behalf by the Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs, Ambassador Yusuf Al-Dobeay, President Bio for the brave measures taken to transform Sierra Leone’s economy through inclusive economic growth, inclusive development and inclusive governance. In this context, the Secretary General invited all partners to support Sierra Leone in its efforts to address the challenges of transforming the economy and improving the infrastructure, already undertaken by the Government with success in the agriculture, fisheries, mining and mineral resources sectors. He said that the OIC General Secretariat is planning to send a delegation to Sierra Leone by the end of the year to take stock and discuss with State authorities on the best ways and means to revive the OIC Trust Fund for Sierra Leone so as to help it re-launch its activities and assist Sierra Leone within the framework of the Joint Islamic Action.