Remarks Delivered by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at Extraordinary Islamic Summit Conference, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)Istanbul, Turkey May 18, 2018

Remarks Delivered by President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani at Extraordinary Islamic Summit Conference, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC)Istanbul, Turkey May 18, 2018

Bismallah-i-Rahman-i-Rahim

Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, Majesties, Excellencies, Mr. Secretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen;

We are meeting in a time of tragic irony. Palestinian civilians are dying for demanding the right to have basic human and political rights. The irony is that the injustice inflicted upon them is repeating the pattern of discrimination and violence perpetrated against the Jewish people in 19th and first half of 20th century in Eastern and Western Europe.

Ghetto and the Pale stood for social and spatial exclusion while pogroms were manifestations of repression on grounds of mere identity. The horrific crime of holocaust shocked the global conscience into adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, representing the consensus that crimes against humanity should be made a thing of the past. The specter of violence, unfortunately, haunts our lives.

More Afghans than Palestinians have died in the past week. Yet, I felt compelled to attend this extraordinary summit to express the empathy and sympathy of my fellow citizens with the Palestinian people. Simply put, the question of Palestine is a question for the Arab world, the Muslim world and the world at large.   Failure to address it has robbed several generations of stability and prosperity. Continual failure to address it could deprive us of the opportunity to replace the unfolding clash of civilizations with a genuine dialogue of civilizations.

Why can a sense of urgency not be mustered? I suggest that the simultaneity of the following five factors might provide an explanation:

​First, the established rules of warfare, distinguishing between combatants and non-combatants, have given way to practicing of unrestricted warfare.

​Second, the scale, scope and constancy of violence has numbed the collective conscience, producing indifference in the face of massive information flow.

​Third, uncertainty regarding the future and the direction of the world has become a dominant feature of our time.

​Fourth, the gap between the often repeated values of human rights and political rights, especially justice and fairness, and the reality of destructive change, especially in the Islamic world, is resulting in increasing distrust in the capability of international organizations to ensure peace and stability.

​Fifth, as a result, we are facing a crisis of understanding and cooperation, resulting in adoption of lose-lose rather than win-win solutions.

Clearly, we do face a complex range of interrelated problems and a difficult global context. Owning the future, however, requires drawing lessons from the past and utilizing the present to overcome the past.

To initiate discussion, I suggest the following issues for focus:

1st: create a framework for political stability through orderly change – building on a range of successful examples;

2nd: create mechanisms for state-to –state cooperation among neighboring states where temptations for engaging in proxy wars and building spheres of influence have been drivers of conflict;

3rd: drawing on successful examples of regional cooperation agree on building the capabilities of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation as a genuine platform for discussion of our collective challenges and a mechanism for peace building among member states;

4th: address the question of Palestine and enduring solutions to the Israeli-Arab conflict through a sustained effort;

5th: develop a narrative for explaining Islam as a civilization and culture to younger generations of Muslim men and women and launch a comprehensive effort for a genuine dialogue between Islamic civilization and other civilizations.

We live in an open historical moment, where assumptions of the past can no longer guide us.  Open moments are rare and therefore, full of opportunity and danger.   Leadership and management make all the difference in such moments.  I pray that we rise to overcome our collective challenge.   The people of Palestine, whose suffering has brought us here, want more than our sympathy.  They want our support to break the vicious circle that has robbed them of leading dignified lives.   I trust that we translate our collective pain into collective action.

In conclusion, I’d like to thank President Erdogan for the initiative, the Government of Turkey for the excellence of arrangements, and the Secretariat of OIC for supporting this initiative in a timely manner.

Happy Ramadan and thank you.

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