Thursday October 16, 2003 04:45 PM



In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

Honourable Heads of State and Government;

Honourable Secretary-General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference;

Distinguished Colleagues;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

At the very outset, I avail myself of this opportunity to express my deep satisfaction for attending this august gathering of the Honourable Heads of State and Government of the States Members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and to offer the warm, fraternal greetings of the Muslim nation of Iran to all of you and to all Islamic nations. I would as well like to seize the moment to express our heartfelt felicitations to Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, distinguished Prime Minister of Malaysia, on his most deserved assumption of the chairmanship of the 10th Islamic Summit Conference and wish him every success in discharging the formidable task lying ahead.

Distinguished Colleagues,

Islam, with its multi-faceted and multi-dimensional depth and grandeur - whose most fundamental aspect is the Truth that lies solely with God - is the important uniting factor among the Muslim nations, Members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. God Almighty Himself is the first reciter of the Qur'an: "These are the verses of Allah which we recite them unto you in righteousness" (Chapter II, 252). The Holy Prophet "A Messenger from among themselves recites unto them His Verses" (Chapter LXII, 2). And Muslims must listen to this recitation: "Whenever the Qur' an is recited, listen to it with attention" (Chapter VII, 204). The outcome is faith: "Our Lord - our Cherisher - verily we have heard a caller summoning us to the faith, declaring: Believe in your Lord, so we have believed" (Chapter III, 193).

The most fundamental question confronting us as Muslims today is whether we are capable of listening to God and comprehending His Book. True faith once residing in the Muslim's heart would inevitably have its manifestations and signs in actuality. A society founded on true Islamic faith, a society hearing God's voice and comprehending His Book, is a society in which the rights of the oppressed are not trampled and the relationship between the rulers and the ruled are balanced, in equilibrium and organized on a reciprocal-rights basis. Given the clear and unambiguous assertions in the Qur'an and Tradition, can we afford to call a society religious where the people only have obligations and no rights and the rulers only have rights and no obligations? Do we, as Muslims, enjoy the dignity that God has promised the faithful; the dignity that in our times cannot but be secured through independence and scientific-technological and economic progress, and a corresponding high and respected standing in the international community? Are we not suffering preponderance of ignorance and poverty? Are Muslim lands not facing the danger of aggression and occupation by quarters and forces whose interests lie in our dependence and underdevelopment? Is morality, the very same ultimate objective of the mission of all prophets and what is so wanting in our world today, not absent among us Muslims?

Let me speak frankly. We Muslims can secure our righteous place in the world only if we rid ourselves of the so-called nominalist approach, claiming pride in the name of Islam and yet being so removed of its genuine substance. Any deserving claim on the part of us Muslims as to association with the truth of Islam and faith will have to be matched against certain conditions, among others, security of the whole citizenry - both Muslim and otherwise - from oppression and suppression; assumption of office by the statesmen and politicians through the free, voluntary vote of the governed and not through coercion of sorts; and peaceful alternation and transfer of power in accordance with the will of the populace.

Distinguished Colleagues,

While our eves are set on the future, the world in these early years of the third Millennium is, much to everybody' chagrin, going through very painful days. This has indeed confronted the Islamic countries with a critical test of historical proportions. A cursory look at the overall world situation will tell us where we stand and hopefully lead us to what we should do. In the aftermath of the demise of the Soviet Union, the Western powers, most notably the United States, found themselves in a paradoxical and confounding situation. On the one hand, they enthused over the defeat of the rival system, and on the other and simultaneously, the sudden disappearance and sheer absence of the former enemy questioned the very raison d'etre of their gigantic military machinery and prowess. Hence, the US' urgently-felt need for a new, substitute enemy.

In the meantime, Islam had also come to find new claimants, whose principal call was premised on opposition to Western science, culture and civilization and who sought to impose an obscurantist reading of Islam on all social, political, economic and cultural spheres of life. It is ironic that Western policies while craving for an "illusory enemy" for the continued life of their huge weapons-producing machinery and preservation and expansion of their world dominance, come to find their natural allies in religious obscurantism, superficial nominalism and praise for violence on the other side, whose swords are whetted for carnage and destruction.

The war-mongers' clamour notwithstanding, we should call for peace, in as assertive and loud a voice as possible. We should call for justice, which as enjoined by the Holy Qur'an, should be independent of the conduct of the other side - "Let not hatred of a people incite you to act inequitably; act equitably, that is nearer to piety" (Chapter V, 8).

Justice requires opposition to terrorism, which cannot be of a transitional and selective nature or based on passing exigencies. Terrorism is to be condemned in all its forms and manifestations. The state terrorism of Israel that has so scandalously carried out systematic suppression of the heroic people of Palestine and has not stopped short of committing any crimes against even those Palestinians living in diaspora must be condemned and halted. Recent terroristic attacks by Israeli planes against Syria carried out, with the support of certain big powers and in the name of combating terrorism, is another vivid example of the chain of crimes by this aggressive regime, which must be condemned categorically. I appeal to all those concerned about the peace and security in the area and the world as well as the future of humankind to condemn such crimes and utilize all necessary means to prevent its recurrence.

I myself as the President of the Islamic Iran and many of Your Excellencies as Heads of State of Islamic nations were among the very first to condemn the September 11 tragedy. I did not do so out of a sense of political exigency, rather, out of deference to Islamic teachings, Iranian culture and human and moral imperative. One could legitimately ask whether the Heads of State of powerful countries are willing to condemn the persistent crimes of Israel as frankly and as categorically.

The Islamic Iran, relying on its Islamic and moral principles, calls for a world, first and foremost, the Middle East region, free from nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction. To this end and also to reiterate our commitment to peace, we invite the Islamic countries to adopt a clear and categorical position in this regard.

Within this overall approach, we emphasize the imperative of the withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan and Iraq and handing over of the reins of power to their people respectively. The Government and people of Iran will be delighted with joy and satisfaction to see the prosperity and progress of their neighbouring Iraq. A stable, secure, peace-loving Iraq run by a government based on popular vote is not only what we aspire and support, it is in fact what the whole region would like to see emerge.

The Islamic Republic of Iran believes in the imperative of establishing a positive and constructive interaction with the Provisional Governing Council in Iraq with the objectives of contributing to rapid restoration of national sovereignty, expediting the withdrawal of foreign occupation forces, smooth passage through the transitional period, and formation of an elected, representative government. Developments in Iraq and their impact on the interests and security of the region at large require that current consultations and coordination among Islamic countries continue in all earnestness with a long-term and strategic perspective. We believe that the draft resolution the United States has presented to the Security Council calling for contribution of other countries to the security and reconstruction of Iraq under American political and military command is a far cry from the purposes of the United Nations in handing over national sovereignty to the Iraqi people and expeditious withdrawal of occupying forces.

Turning to Palestine, the tragedy and suffering continues unabated. The same Zionist regime that keeps threatening the world peace and regional security with its expansion of nuclear weapons and displays the worst kind of state terrorism through resort to heavy weaponry in massacring Palestinian civilian population, is supported unflinchingly by the powers claiming to arbitrate impartially in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is indeed a matter of great dismay that the Zionist regime recognizes no limits in violating and trampling international law and goes even so far as to plan for the expulsion of the respected President of the Palestinian Authority and Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization from the occupied territories and schemes for his physical elimination. What is certain is that the Israeli policies have made it crystal clear that the political solutions presented so far fail to address the realization of the rights of the Palestinian people and hence, the establishment of a durable and just peace. I cannot desist expressing sorrow at the sad fact that the legitimate struggle of the oppressed people of Palestine for regaining their most basic rights has not been adequately and effectively supported by the Islamic community in its totality. Let me reiterate that all progressive countries of the world, particularly members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, should rise to the task of mobilizing the active support of the international community for the just cause of Palestine.

Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Colleagues,

The very foundation of all of our collective endeavours for progress should be based on training of skilled manpower, scientific advancement, expansion and deepening of access to new and advanced technologies, higher levels of capital formation and investment, and dynamic interaction with and active presence in the world economy.

Let me emphasize right here, that we consider access to advanced science and technology, including nuclear science and technology for peaceful purposes, a legitimate and inalienable right and privilege for the Iranian people, needless to say, within the framework and in accordance with the provisions and safeguards envisioned in international law. Equally, we have stated on numerous occasions, in absolutely unambiguous terms, that production of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction do not have any place in the defense strategy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. In fact, as a matter of principle we believe that all of us should cooperate and exert our utmost to struggle against this evil menace of modern times all over the world and endeavour collectively to prevent spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction on a global basis, and first and foremost, in our region.

We are committed to continue our cooperation. In total good faith, with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It has to be added, though, that the selective approach and double-standard policies of certain states have been at work preventing a reasonable resolution of the existing misunderstandings with respect to Iran's peaceful nuclear programmes. Standing here as the President of an Islamic country and a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, I solemnly ask the Summit to devise a mechanism of its own in order to become closely familiar with Iran's nuclear activities to corroborate the peaceful nature of these activities, help towards resolving the extant misunderstandings and assist developing societies in their legitimate quest for access to advanced knowledge and technology.

Distinguished Colleagues,

Before concluding, let me reiterate a number of challenges and imperatives lying ahead of us all.

1- Any new and emerging opportunity or threat in the world further reaffirms the imperative of revitalizing anew by us Muslims the vigorous pursuit of the idea of Dialogue among Civilizations. Promotion of the Dialogue among civilizations provides the necessary suitable grounds for the realization of the "Alliance for Peace" on a global scale and opens a new vista for dialogue among ourselves as well as with other civilizations and cultures. The "World of Islam" and the "Western World" can - and should - engage from this vantage point in dialogue with each other on the important questions and challenges confronting the world today. Dialogue among us within the Islamic world serves both a prerequisite and promoter of dialogue with others.

2- We Muslims should construct our civility on the example of "Madinat-u-Nabi". An example that could be viewed as a determining standard in regulating both worldly and other-worldly affairs of Muslims. It can lie at the foundation of a system that would utilize all positive achievements of humankind in social, cultural, economic and political spheres and fields and develop into a model system which would ensure democracy along with justice, freedom, morality, progress and dignity and rights of human beings.

3- Islamic faith is premised on the principle of justice, as the most fundamental characteristic of an Islamic society. Justice does not merely apply to the relations among Muslims, rather to all relations and interactions between Muslims and others.

4- Genuine, true faith in the principle of justice necessitates negation of terrorism of all kinds and manifestations, commitment in word and deed to the promotion and establishment of peace and security on a global and regional basis, including through negation of the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

5- Along with justice, freedom, democracy and security are the other prerequisites of social life, without which sustainable, humane social life would prove unattainable.

6- The imperative for Islamic countries to seek and gain access to knowledge and technology to the best of their abilities as well as for cooperation and mutual assistance. It is a fact that the level of development among members of the Organization differs and the less developed among us need the help of the more advanced to achieve a reasonable rate of growth and development. Yet, expansion and further deepening of scientific technological and economic cooperation among us and at the level of the whole Organization would have higher cumulative effects for the entirety of the Islamic Ummah and its standing in the international community. For the Organization to occupy and play an effective role in the world arena, we cannot but commit ourselves to work towards bridging the gap between the rich and poor in our ranks.

7- The imperative of reform in the Organization's administrative structure and revitalization of its procedures and activities. It is indeed a matter of satisfaction that this important issue has recently received due attention and has thus far make good progress.

We remain hopeful that a more vigorous pursuit of this welcome, positive trend under the new chairmanship will bear fruit and lead to a more dynamic and effective status and role for the Organization within the Islamic Community as well as at regional and international levels.

And in conclusion, Mr. Chairman, I should pay tribute to the State of Qatar and the Honourable Amir, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, for all their valuable efforts for the realization of the purposes and objectives of the Organization of the Islamic Conference and also express best wishes for the success of the new Chair, the brotherly Government of Malaysia and the Chairman himself.

Thank you very much for your patience and indulgence.