Musharraf calls for "Muslim Renaissance"

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Aug 27, 2004
By Tom Regan,
December 8, 2005

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has urged the heads of 50 Muslim countries to work out a strategy for a Muslim renaissance. The Daily Times of Pakistan reports that Mr. Musharraf, who made the speech at the Third Extraordinary Summit of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Mecca, also called on Islamic countries to ban groups that preach violence or commit terrorist acts in the name of Islam.

He also called on the leaders present to make mandatory contributions to a fund for science and technology.

“Senseless acts of terrorism committed by a handful of misguided individuals while claiming to act in the name of Islam have maligned our noble faith of peace, tolerance and compassion … We must condemn and reject all forces of terrorism and extremism, banning organisations which preach hate and violence. We must promote the Islamic values of tolerance and moderation,” he said. The president said most Islamic societies remained far removed from the expanding frontiers of knowledge, education, science and technology. Any dreams of progress on these fronts would remain unfulfilled if not fully backed by collective will and adequate financial resources, he said.

Turkey's Zaman Online reports that the conference in Mecca, Islam's holiest city, aims to encourage political and social reform in Muslim countries by endorsing a 10-year plan for better education, faster economic development, more trade, religious moderation, and more rights for Muslim women.

The OIC Secretary General, Ekmeleddin Ihsanouglu of Turkey, said one of the greatest challenges facing the development of Islamic nations was the distorted image of Islam in other nations, caused primarily by the actions of extremists and fanatic Muslims. The Daily Star of Lebanon quoted him: "We don't have the luxury of blaming others for our own problems," Ihsanoglu said in a speech which also portrayed the Muslim world confronting one of "the most critical eras of its history...We should fight terrorism by dealing with its roots and causes, whether committed by individuals, groups or states. Terrorism is a crime that every Muslim should fight."

The Star also reports that Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah appealed to Muslim leaders to unite and take on extremists who have hijacked their religion. He said the world's one billion Muslims were "weak and divided," a note that was struck by several other leaders.

The Scotsman reports that US critics have blamed Saudi Arabia's strict Wahhabi school of Islam for fostering extremism. But King Abdullah called for greater efforts to promote tolerance, saying, "I look forward to the spread of a moderation that embodies the tolerance of Islam."

The Scotsman also reports that Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Malaysian prime minister, issued a similar warning, saying that Muslims across the world were in a state of "disunity and discord" worse than at any time in 14 centuries of Islamic history.

"Thousands of our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran and Sudan and similar places, are living in fear of war and violence," he said. "Many more are living under threats of poverty and backwardness."

Before the start of the conference, Turkey's foreign minister Abdullah Gul told the Turkish daily Hurriyet that he feels his country can be a "driving force" for reform in the OIC, particularly because of its ongoing negotiations with the European Union about possible membership – although critics say Ankara still has a long way to go before it fully achieves EU norms.

"By starting accession talks with the European Union, Turkey proved that a Muslim country can have a democracy compatible with the [EU's] Copenhagen criteria" on human rights and democracy, he said. "Equality between men and women, the active participation of women in social and political life and accountability are all principles of the Muslim faith. These are the modern terms for [the principle of] justice in Islam."

As part of the OIC's plan, a conference on women's rights in Islam will be held in Turkey, although the date had not been finalized yet, reports Zaman Online.
In all fairness, the European Renaissance was orchestrated by imperial noblemen as well, rather than commoners. Maybe such a concerted effort for a "Muslim Renaissance" by Musharraf isn't so outlandish after all.

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