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OIC raps Canadian premier's anti-Islam tirade

OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu

By P. K. Abdul Ghafour | Arab News / Jeddah / 13 Sept 2011

The 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has denounced a recent statement made by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a high-profile non-Jewish supporter of Israel, that he considered “Islamic terrorism” as the biggest threat to world peace.

Harper’s statement will only exacerbate the misunderstanding and suspicion between the West and the Islamic world and obstruct global efforts to confront bigotry and hatred between religions and cultures,” said OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.

In an interview with CBC News, Harper said the biggest security threat to Canada a decade after 9/11 was “Islamic terrorism.”

He continued: “When people think of Islamic terrorism, they think of Afghanistan, or maybe they think of some place in the Middle East, but the truth is that threat exists all over the world.”

An article written by Dovid Efune in The Huffington Post rated Harper as the No. 1 non-Jew having a positive influence in shaping the Jewish future.

Harper has been a great friend to Canada’s Jewish community as well as an outspoken supporter of Israeli positions in the international political arena… saying last year, ‘When Israel, the only country in the world whose very existence is under attack, is consistently and conspicuously singled out for condemnation, I believe we are morally obligated to take a stand.’”

Efune, who is director of Algemeiner Journal, commended Harper’s efforts in blocking a G8 resolution in support of US President Barack Obama’s Middle East policy speech that would mention the call for a Palestinian State based on the 1967 lines, while not incorporating other elements of the speech.

This stand “earns him the top spot this year,” Efune wrote in the daily.

Effune said his top 10 list of non-Jewish supporters of Israel includes politicians, activists and business giants. Media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, Speaker of the US House of Representatives John Boehner, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and former Spanish Premier Jose Maria Aznar occupy the remaining top five spots.

According to columnist Dr. Debra Chin, Harper is apparently using Canadian governmental authority to advance ultra right-wing ideological goals.

She said Harper was a member of the ultra-right wing Northern Foundation in 1989, quoting a book authored by Trevor Harrison entitled “Of Passionate Intensity.”

In his book, Harrison documents that the foundation comprised neo-Nazi social Darwinist intellectuals, Chin wrote in The Canadian newspaper.

In his comments, the OIC chief said such misleading statements from the prime minister of a sovereign country would create chaos. “The usage of Islamic terrorism is wrong like the usage of Christian terrorism or Jewish terrorism,” he pointed out.

“Islam is a religion of peace and mercy,” the secretary-general said and reiterated his organization’s commitment to combat terrorism and extremism in all its forms. “Our stand is based on Islamic teachings that reject terrorism and violence,” he added.

Ihsanoglu said OIC countries were the main victims of terrorism, suffering heavy human and material losses.

Saudi Arabia, which hosts the OIC headquarters, suffered a series of bombings and attacks since May 2003 that claimed the lives of 350 people.

Hassan Al-Ahdal, director-general for media and public relations at the Makkah-based Muslim World League, expressed his dismay at Harper’s remarks.

“Such irresponsible remarks should not have come from a prime minister. It will give fuel to extremists to carry out terrorist attacks and deepen the division between Islamic and Western cultures. It will also encourage Islamophobes to carry out more attacks against Muslim minorities.”

Al-Ahdal hoped that the Western thinkers would condemn Harper’s remarks in order to strengthen good relations between Muslims and the West.

He said Harper’s remarks would encourage Muslim countries and parents not to send their students to Canada, fearing they would face bad treatment.

“It is quite unfortunate to see that Islamophobia is spreading in the West. Earlier, we have seen such attitudes from the right-wing extremists. Now it has been taken over by leaders like Harper, Sarkozy and Merkel,” he said.

Al-Ahdal urged Muslim countries to take a firm stand against such Islamophobic remarks.

“I hope all Muslim countries will call their Canadian ambassadors to express their strong protest against Harper’s remarks and inform them such incidents would affect Canada’s relationship with Muslims,” he said.

Al-Ahdal underscored the interfaith dialogue initiative launched by Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah to promote world peace and stability by enhancing cooperation and understanding between the followers of different faiths.

“The initiative will help bridge the gap between the East and West,” he said and called for strengthening the initiative by holding more meetings between leaders of various faiths.

 

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