OIC Secretary-General from Cairo: We are not a religious organization … and terrorism is the modern-day plague

The Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Dr. Yousef bin Ahmed Al-Othaimeen, said that the OIC is not a religious nor a Da’wa-oriented organization and that he had always found it difficult to correct this misunderstanding, pointing out that the Organization has been given that name because its Member States are Islamic countries. He thanked Dr. Mustafa El-Faqi, the Director of the Library of Alexandria.

On Thursday evening, the Seminar of OIC and International Community was held at the Diplomatic Institute of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as part of the events of the OIC Festival being held in Cairo. In the Seminar, Al-Othaimeen said that the OIC is a large multidisciplinary organization, and promised to develop its work.

The OIC Secretary-General spoke about the Organization’s contribution, pointing out that the Organization and its Secretary-General express the collective will of Member States and their leaders. He reviewed the OIC’s history and goals, emphasizing that it deals with a number of issues.

Al-Othaimeen highlighted that the Festival is a kind of popular diplomacy and an important event to communicate with people and individuals on the ground. He added that one of the Festival’s objectives is to become one of the means of soft power to achieve the objectives of the Organization.

The OIC Secretary-General also spoke about the Festival’s appreciation and respect for women. He added that the Festival gave a strong message against extremism, radicalization and terrorism. He stressed that Islam is not against culture, literature and folklore, referring that the OIC is a single fabric and a voice for the most majority of Muslims.

Al-Othaimeen stressed on expanding the footprint of the OIC, through established mechanisms, describing terrorism as the “modern-day plague” and called upon civil society organizations and families to join hands in combating terrorism. Meanwhile, he explained the phenomenon of terrorism and its repercussions.

The West has a few bigots who distort the image of Islam; thus, we must spread out the moderate Islamic approach, by having liaison groups in non-Islamic countries, the General Secretariat said, emphasizing that terrorism is a scourge for all of us.

He further highlighted the contribution of the OIC Sawt Al-Hikma (The Voice of Wisdom) Centre towards weeding out the extremist rhetoric, by delivering content in three tongues (Arabic, French, and English). He called on everyone to contribute to undermining the extremist thinking, revealing that the terrorist “Da’esh” organization is capitalizing on technology to propagate terrorism. “We have to counter that,” he said.

The General Secretariat of the OIC referred to his talks with Pope of the Vatican during his visit to Rome a few months ago, discussing the importance of combating terrorism. “We are all in the same boat, and we have to face it together,” he said. He further discussed the issues of Rohingya Muslims, who are suffering at their homelands amid ethnic cleansing.

Moreover, Al-Othaimeen addressed the economic affairs of the OIC and the endeavours towards eliminating the economic impediments through promoting trade exchange between the OIC Member States. He also highlighted the need of pharmaceutical companies for the treatment of incurable diseases, calling for investing in the soft power backed by Egypt’s leading role in the region and across the world.