Friday October 17, 2003 01:34 PM

 

STATEMENT BY HIS EXCELLENCY ALHAJI DR. AHMAD TEJAN KABBAH, PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SIERRA LEONE AT THE TENTH SESSION OF THE ISLAMIC SUMMIT CONFERENCE; HELD IN PUTRAJAYA, MALAYSIA FROM 18TH 19TH OCTOBER 2003

Mr. Chairman

Your Highnesses Your Excellencies

Mr. Secretary-General

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

ASSALAAMU ALAlKUM WA RAHMATULLAHI WA BARAKATUHU

I would like, first and foremost,to congratulate you on your assumption of the Chairmanship of the Tenth Session of our Islamic Summit Conference.

I would also like to express our deep appreciation for the dynamic leadership that your predecessor,His Highness SHEIKH HAMAD KHALIFA AL-THANI, Emir of the State of Qatar has demonstrated during his tenure.

May I also take this opportunity on behalf of my delegation and on my own behalf to express sincere thanks to the Government and people of Malaysia for the warm reception and generous hospitality extended to us since our arrival in this beautiful, new and modern city of PUTRAJAYA.

Mr. Chairman,

Since we last met in Doha, almost three years ago, the international community has witnessed challenges to the very concept of the sanctity of human life. These challenges are manifested in, among other things, the increasing incidence of the HlV/AIDS pandemic, the prevalence of extreme poverty, and the weakening of multilateral approaches, through the United Nations, in dealing with threats or perceived threats to international peace and security. Of course, there are also the resurgence of dastardly acts of terrorism and some of the most frightening responses to such acts.

Mr. Chairman,

We condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. Speaking from our experience in Sierra Leone over the fast few years, terrorism is such a repugnant phenomenon that we will not wish for anybody to be subjected to it.

We believe and are convinced that it is being used as an instrument of wanton destruction by treacherous cowards. Terrorism has caused and continues to cause more indiscriminate human suffering, misery and woe, more devastation of treasured relics, private and publicly owned property. Left unchecked it will impede political and economic stability, and the advancement of nations, developed and developing.

Mr. Chairman,

One of the most disturbing implications of terrorism for our organization and the entire Islamic Ummah has been the tendency to associate and even equate acts of terrorism with Islamic principles and Muslims. We must strongly reject this naive and erroneous equation. Accusations continue to be levelled against Islam and Muslims because of the alleged participation of certain misguided Muslims in such acts.

The OIC should play a leadership role in ensuring that measures aimed at countering terrorism do not breed religious intolerance or strengthen fanatic elements. Religious intolerance could have serious consequences for the legitimate fight against terrorism and efforts to maintain international peace and security.

Mr. Chairman,

We are all aware of the number of reports and studies that have been conducted to identify or determine the root causes of armed conflict, for instance in Africa, as a means of resolving and preventing such conflict. Is it not incumbent on the international community to do the same for that intolerable phenomenon called terrorism?

While recognizing the urgency of fighting terrorism, we should also vigorously pursue the search for a universally acceptable definition of terrorism, and identify its root cause. We support the convening of the proposed international conference on terrorism, and commend the contribution of Malaysia in the search for a definition by hosting the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers on this important subject.

Mr. Chairman,

No one nation or state can be indifferent to the misery and humiliation of the Palestinian people. The failure to remedy their situation should be of concern to everyone who espouses freedom, respect for human rights and the dignity of the human person. What can the Muslim Ummah do? How can it put an end to this dreadful conflict? These are questions and matters that should occupy the minds of all Muslims at all times.

We believe that this situation can no longer be allowed to continue. It should be brought to an end as expeditiously as possible. In this connection, we share the view of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that bold steps are necessary to salvage the peace process. As he put it, small steps have not worked and are unlikely to work in the future. However, we are encouraged by the reaffirmation of the Quartet, following their recent meeting in New York to a resumption of progress towards a rapid implementation of the Road Map. As we see it, the Map should lead to the establishment of full Palestinian State-hood and lasting peace and normalcy in which all states in the region will live side by side within secure and recognized boundaries. This will be the only viable and effective way to put an end to the sufferings of the Palestinians and violence in the region. However, we risk the failure to achieve this objective if we allow or condone acts by any of the belligerents that seeks to spread the conflict to other states in the region.

Mr. Chairman,

On the question of Iraq, we share the pains and sufferings of our brotherly Iraqi people. We hope and pray that the Iraqi people, with the help and support of our Organisation, the United Nations and other international organizations, will establish an independent, legitimate and democratic government that is fully representative of the Iraqi nation and develop good neighbourliness.

We call upon the international community to assist in restoring security, public order and in providing urgent humanitarian assistance. We also call for the speedy reconstruction of Iraq.

Mr. Chairman,

After a devastating rebel war, we in Sierra Leone have embarked on a comprehensive programme of reconstruction. We wish to sincerely thank the General Secretariat of the OIC for launching the Trust Fund for Sierra Leone in January 2003. My Government and people are grateful to the States of Qatar and Malaysia for their generous financial contributions to this Fund. However, the Fund is still well below the expected level of pledges and commitments. We would, therefore, appeal to the General Secretariat to convene a nother Donors Conference in which, this time around, our brotherly member states will have another opportunity to contribute more meaningfully to the Fund.

Mr. Chairman,

On the peace process,I am gratified to state that peace has once been restored to Sierra Leone. We acknowledge the role that troops from the OIC countries namely, Nigeria, Guinea, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Jordan, Mali and others have played in the peacekeeping activities of both ECOWAS and UNAMSIL. We also thank OIC Member States for their resolute moral and diplomatic support both at the United Nations and other international organisations toward the realization of peace in my country

Mr. Chairman,

Coming to the theme of this year's Conference "Knowledge and Morality for Progress of the Ummah", we should remember that Islam has made it obligatory for e very individual to seek and acquire knowledge in any field of human endeavour.

However, in this quest for knowledge we should never forget that Allah is the source of all knowledge, of all science, of all philosophy, and of all that was, is, and is to be. All sciences proceed and issue from his infinite knowledge, wisdom and power.

It is a strange paradox of our time that despite our increasing intelligence and commanding knowledge of the secrets of nature which should draw us closer to Allah, we often selfishly allow that intelligence and knowledge to diminish our communion with the Almighty Allah.

Mr. Chairman,

What the Ummah needs now is the knowledge that is destined to change conditions, attitudes and traditions; sharpen the skills of the people to enable them to contribute more appropriately and more fully to their overall development.

The Islamic system does not separate scientific, technological and socio-economic development from moral values; knowledge of arts and culture from morality, or politics from morality. From this, we can safely deduce that a moral thread runs through all forms of knowledge.

It is my fervent hope that guided by the tenets of our noble religion the summit will be sensitive to the fundamental desires of the Islamic world to live in peace with one another and with the rest of the world.

Mr. Chairman,

Faced with the challenges of deadly diseases, extreme poverty, violence, terrorism in various forms, and the heavy demands of post-war reconstruction in many parts of the world, I have no doubt that the outcome of this summit will strengthen the ability of our Organisation to help meet these challenges.

Moreover, I believe that our Organisation through its various programmes will continue to make distinctive contributions to the civilization, culture and well-being of the world of which we are an integral part.

Mr. Chairman,

The Government and people of Sierra Leone are ever mindful of the sacred obligations we have voluntarily assumed under the charter of the OIC. We are determined to discharge these obligations fully with all the means at our disposal. We pray for the continued success of our Organization in all its various activities to attain for the Islamic Ummah and the whole world lasting peace, progress and prosperity.

I thank you, Mr. Chairman.