Islamic leaders pledge to combat sectarianism

Closing statement decries Iran and ISIL for their roles in regional conflicts.

Islamic conference istanbul
Leaders and representatives of Islamic countries gathered in Istanbul [AP via Anadolu Agency]

Leaders of the Islamic world concluded a two-day summit in the Turkish city of Istanbul with a pledge to fight “terrorism” and overcome sectarian divisions. 

The final declaration on Friday expressed strong condemnation of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) and the role of Iran and its allies in regional conflicts, namely Syria. 

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who chaired the final session of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit, lamented the fact that Muslim countries who are “the heirs of a civilisation that was built on columns of peace and justice are being remembered more for wars, armed conflict, sectarianism and terrorism. 

“As Muslims, we cannot overcome our difficulties without achieving unity in spite of our differences,” said the Turkish leader during the closing ceremony after delegates took a break to perform Friday prayers.

Erdogan also said the establishment of an international arbitration body in Istanbul is part of the OIC 2025 action plan and welcomed a decision reached a day earlier to create a Turkey-based police coordination centre aimed at increasing cooperation against attacks.

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The Istanbul meeting drew representatives from across the Muslim world, including King Salman of Saudi Arabia and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, whose countries have squared off in Yemen and Syria.

The final declaration expressed hope that negotiations that started in Geneva on April 13 would contribute to resolving the Syrian crisis “as soon as possible” and “deplored Iran’s interference” and “continued support for terrorism” not only in Syria, but also Bahrain, Yemen, and Somalia.

The conference pledged to combat “terrorism” in all its forms and condemned ISIL for its use of chemical weapons in Iraq.
On the sidelines of the summit, regional Sunni powers Turkey and Saudi Arabia signed a memorandum to create a bilateral cooperation council. The two countries are aligned in their support for rebel factions opposed to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The president of predominantly Shia-majority Iran which, along with Russia, supports Assad, is expected to meet on Saturday with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Ankara.

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Source: News Agencies


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