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‘Divided Muslims failed Kashmiris, Palestinians’

Imran says human rights abuses will keep happening unless the OIC is united on core issues

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday told a gathering of Muslim countries’ foreign ministers that the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) was being perceived as a “divided house”, which had failed both Palestinians and Kashmiris.

Delivering a keynote address at the inaugural session of the 48th meeting OIC Council of Foreign Ministers (CFM) at the Parliament House, he said, “We have failed both the Palestinians and the people of Kashmir. I am sad to say that we have been able to make no impact at all.”

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The premier said Western countries did “not take the OIC seriously” because “we are a divided house and those powers know it”. “We (Muslims) are 1.5 billion people and yet our voice to stop this blatant injustice is insignificant.”

Imran said international law was on the side of the people of Palestine and Kashmir, adding that the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions backed the Kashmiris’ right to self-determination through a plebiscite. However, the international community never ensured that right was given, he said. Referring to New Delhi’s stripping of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir’s (IIOJK) special status in August 2019, he said: “nothing happened because they (India) feel no pressure”. “They feel we can just [pass] a resolution and then [go] back to our usual business.”

He cautioned that unless the OIC was united on core issues, human rights abuses would keep happening, such as the “daylight robbery in Palestine”.

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“The only hope I have is that for the first time because of social media, there is awareness in Western countries.

Much more than the OIC, it is the mobile phone and the spread of information of the injustices being done to the Palestinians … at the moment, that is the best way to protect them, not us.” He said India was changing the demography in IIOJK by bringing in settlers from outside but “no one has pushed about it because they think we are ineffective”.

Earlier, the premier began his speech congratulating the Muslim world for the recent adoption of a resolution against Islamophobia by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), which proclaims March 15 as International Day to Combat Islamophobia.

He said the world was now realising that Islamophobia was a reality and more was needed to be done to combat it.

“Why was Islam equated with terrorism?” he questioned and referred to the Christchurch attack on a mosque as a consequence of this stereotyping.

“Once that happens, how is the man in the street in Western countries, how is he supposed to differentiate between a moderate Muslim and a radical Muslim? Hence, this man walks into a mosque and shoots everyone he could.”

Imran said it was unfortunate that the Muslim world was not able to combat this image of Muslims. “What should have been done wasn’t; the heads of Muslim countries should have taken a stand on this. Unfortunately, this narrative of Islamic terrorism, Islamic radicalisation, this narrative went on unchecked.”

In response to this wave of Islamophobia, Imran said some Muslim heads of state said they were moderate Muslims. “When you say this, you automatically say there are some extremist Muslims.”

There were moderates, liberals, conservatives and fanatics in every human community, he said, adding that it was only Muslims who were “branded based on their religion”.

He said Muslim states had made the “biggest mistake” by not challenging the narrative because of which Muslims residing in Western countries suffered.

“Any time any terrorist incident by Muslims happened, [it] immediately meant that every Muslim [was] branded. How could the whole community be responsible for some fanatical deed by some extremists?” he asked. “They were able to vilify our religion and yet there was no coherent response from the Muslim world.”

Referring to the recently passed UNGA resolution, the premier said he hoped that from now onwards, the Muslim community would be able to put forward its narrative and explain to the West why Islamophobic acts, including “insulting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) hurts [Muslims] so much.” He said he was glad that Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was attending the moot because he wanted people to understand what brought about “one of the greatest revolutions of all time”. The premier also spoke about the global situation, expressing his apprehension that the world was “headed in the wrong way”.

A new Cold War had almost started and the world could be divided into blocs, he said, stressing that unless 1.5bn Muslims took a united stand, “we will be nowhere.” No other people had suffered as much as the people of Afghanistan, he said, adding that for the first time in 40 years, there was “no conflict” in the war-torn country.

About the ongoing war in Ukraine, Imran suggested that the OIC foreign ministers should discuss how the body could “mediate, try to bring about a ceasefire and an end to the conflict”. If the war continued, it would have “great consequences for the world”, he cautioned.

Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud, OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha, Islamic Development Bank President Dr Muhammad Suleiman Al-Jasser, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wangi Yi also addressed the session. A video message by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was shown as well.

Taking the stage at the OIC moot, Wang Yi said that maintaining friendly relations lies at the heart of the traditions of China. “China can never forget the support of the Islamic world in the United Nations,” he said, assuring unwavering assistance for the Muslims in Palestine. “China stands with the Palestinian people for a two-state solution.”

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