Thursday October 16, 2003 03:30 PM
THE ADDRESS OF HIS EXCELLENCY PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD,
PRESIDENT OF THE SYRIAN ARAB REPUBLIC AT THE 10TH ISLAMIC SUMMIT
CONFERENCE, KUALA LUMPUR: 16 – 18 OCTOBER, 2003
Dear Brother Dato’ Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohammad, Prime Minister of Malaysia-Chairman of this summit conference,
The interim period between our last summit in Doha and this summit witnessed radical changes on the international arena, which had severe effects on our countries and especially on our peoples. These changes can in no way be isolated from the international imbalance that emerged at the beginning of the last decade because they are a direct outcome of that imbalance. Had they taken place during that decade, it would have been difficult for their makers to justify them. But the forces behind these changes found their long-desired objective in the 9/11 aggressions against the United States, which provided the opportunity and pretext for a group of fanatics and ill-intentioned people to attack human values and principles which which were upheld for thousands of years, and particularly through the descent of the divine religions. Those fanatics revealed their brutal vision of human society and started to market the principle of force instead of dialogue, oppression instead of justice, and racism instead of tolerance. They even began to create an ugly illusionary enemy which they called "Islam", and made it appear as if it is Islam while Islam is completely innocent of it.
Furthermore, they added to our dictionaries a new term of which we had never heard throughout history, and that is "Islamic Terrorism". Their objective was to link terrorism to Islam and to give the impression to those, who do not know the truth of Islam, that terrorism is closely linked to Islam or even that it is a basic pillar of Islam. All the condemnations and denunciations issued by countries around the world, including our Islamic countries, were in vain and seemed to carry no weight. They even paid no heed to all our efforts and. stands to absolve Islam of these acts and of any other terrorist act, nor did they accept any idea that may prove that Islam is a religion of peace,
This doesn't mean that our discourse is not convincing or that our logic is weak, nor does it mean that they do - not understand or realize what we are saying! On the contrary, they do recognize, just as we do, all these facts but they ignore these facts on purpose, car rather in premeditation. Their stands are not a reaction to what had taken place, as some people might imagine, rather they are part of a well-planned scheme with carefully calculated objectives. The care of the objectives is that they need enemies and allies who change or whose roles change according to circumstances and in a way that well serves their goals. Thus, Islam becomes sacred or unsacred according to their needs and according to how consistent it is with their visions.
Islam was sacred in the 1980s and they supported it because, they allege, it was fighting an assumed enemy called "Communism". But today they claim that they are combating terrorism, particularly the Islamic one. If we, however, scrutinized facts and realities and compared again between the two periods, we would discover that they were supporting Islamic extremism rather than supporting Islam in the 1980s, and that today they are fighting Islam and not Islamic extremism or terrorism with all its different definitions. This means only one thing: In the two cases and periods of time Islam was their target.
Such are the realities at our present time; reversed, abused, or selective. And if we question why those fanatics fight Islam, the religion of justice, love and tolerance, the evident answer will be because real Islam prohibits extremism since it is a religion that calls for moderation, but without any compromise on dignity.
Those fanatics, however, wish and work contrary to what they announce; they violate sovereignty, impose economic sanctions, invade countries culturally, and secretly fund certain organizations, which feed and broaden Islamic extremism, or any other form of extremism, because it is the dynamic equivalent to their extremism and a definite justification for their dominance over many parts of the world. Extremism feeds on extremism and moderation.
Therefore, it is our duty as Islamic countries and peoples to exert serious efforts that aim at achieving a state of real enlightenment in our societies, an enlightenment that would enhance open understanding of our religious heritage and strengthen the culture of moderation and tolerance against that of intransigence and passivity. We should also strengthen real Islam as a doctrine and behavior because in doing so we fortify Islam and Muslims and weaken their enemies. This starts, however, by combating and averting every abnormal practice resulting from the wrong understanding of Islam because such practices directly harm Islam and provide ill-intentioned people with the pretext and justification to attribute to Islam various negative inhuman characteristics.
As we strongly refuse all the attempts which try to make "Terrorism" an exclusive characteristic of Islam, we also strongly refuse to tying the wrong practices of few individuals to any specific religion or civilization.
There is also an urgent need for the Islamic countries to take coordinated steps to explain the benevolent contents of the Islamic message on the local - and international levels as well as to combat deliberate attempts made by some Western institutions and think-tanks to distort Islam. This is as " danger comes not only from a military or economic war, but also from a cultural war that must be noticed in the first place, because it is the most dangerous as it could lead to the distortion of our identity or even its destruction: This means that fighting such phenomena and practices, which are carried out in the name of Islam, is in essence cultural, intellectual, educational and economic rather than intelligence or military. But such an endeavor cannot be successful without coordination and cooperation among our countries and peoples: Cooperation results in dialogue and dialogue is the antithesis of isolationism and isolationism is linked to ignorance.
The other side to this cooperation is the economic cooperation among us, which undoubtedly will. achieve a kind of prosperity that will be reflected on everybody in a positive way; Besides, we all know the importance of the
economic factor in easing up the and in fighting ignorance along phenomena related to it.
As we talk about the war against Islam we shouldn't forget that there are different powers around the world, which worked in a systematic organized manner to foster this war, the foremost of which is Israel. Israel is a terrorist state which was established on terrorism and practiced its most horrid forms against the Arabs, Muslims and Christians. It burnt the Aqsa Mosque in 1969, attacked it repeatedly, besieged the Nativity Church in Bethlehem and assassinated innocent civilians who took shelter in it.
The persecution, which Israel is practicing against the Palestinian people through the past decades and which is getting more brutal, has naturally to invite a Palestinian reaction that took the form of resistance which is a natural right and a legitimate act as a form of self-defence that was Safeguarded by the Charter of the United Nations. This Palestinian resistance, at any rate, cannot be considered as an aggression against others as the Israelis and some of their agents in the West portray it. The simplest evidence of this is that more than 100 Palestinian martyrs were killed by Israeli soldiers before any act of resistance took place; this was after the eruption of the Intifada in September 2000.
Yet, this terrorist state insists on accusing the Palestinian resistants of terrorism. We, in spite of our permanent and continuous condemnation of terrorism and our rejection of violence, emphasize the right of any people, whose territory is occupied and who are subject to aggression, in resisting the occupation and aggression in all' their forms. We also stress that without addressing the core reasons for the painful events in the Middle East in general and in Palestine, in particular, condemnations and denunciations will always fall short of influencing the increasing pattern of Israeli crimes as well as falling short of preventing the legitimate retaliation of resistance. In this case, all these condemnations and denunciations are only a waste of time which we all need.
We advocate just and comprehensive peace in our region, and we shall always work to achieve it in accordance with international legitimacy in the forefront of which are resolutions which call upon Israel to withdraw from all Arab territories occupied in 1967 and safeguard the rights of the Palestinian people in establishing their independent state with Jerusalem as its capital, as well as completing the Israeli withdrawal from the rest of the Lebanese territories.
The Arab Initiative adopted by the Beirut Summit was an evident expression of our honest desire to achieve peace, and our pursuit to achieve true security and prosperity for our region, but Israel rejected this initiative, escalated its oppression of our Palestinian people and went too far in its settlement policy and its aggression against its neighboring Arab countries. Furthermore, it bolstered its arsenal with nuclear weapons which are used as a means to strengthen its hegemony, aggression and arrogance.
Syria, through its membership in the Security Council, has submitted a draft resolution to make the Middle East a zone free of Weapons of Mass Destruction. However, the striking contrast was that certain countries, who raised the issue of the possession of some Arab and Muslim countries of Weapons of Mass Destruction immediately prior to our draft resolution, totally rejected our draft resolution.
Experiences, particularly the latest ones, have proved that military power cannot be an alternative to politics and more important is that it cannot replace reason, rather it needs more of it. The Israelis should comprehend this fact; they should be aware that no matter how huge their military power might become, they will not succeed in achieving their goals and will never be able to plant fear in our hearts.
Since the title used as a cover for hegemony is the war on terrorism, Iraq became the other victim of this title at the time when the international community, most governments and peoples, were against its invasion since the appearance of the first premonition of the war over one year ago, in fear of the consequences of this war on Iraq and on the world and in total rejection of its unconvincing justifications. Some of the warmongers within the American administration refused to listen to the world's advice and the apprehension of some wise people within the administration in particular and in the United States in general. Before long they directly saw that war did not achieve any of their aspirations except the destruction of Iraq and that they started to fight a new and more ferocious war. At the same time, the world discovered that the war of "liberating Iraq" has in fact liberated the Iraqi citizen, in other words, deprived him of the state, institutions, sovereignty, dignity, food, water and electricity.
The Iraqi citizen has become "liberated" from the blessing of life, and everyone, without exception, discovered that the pretexts upon which war was waged lacked any credibility. This was confirmed by the inspection teams’ experts who were sent to Iraq to search for Weapons of Mass Destruction, but did not find any trace of them. In consequence, the Iraqis are paying the price in severe suffering caused by bad living conditions, lack of basic services and feelings of frustration and humiliation caused by the practices of occupation.
It is only natural for us, as a neighboring country to Iraq with which we are linked with historic ties of brotherhood, to be in the forefront of countries affected by what is going on in it, and to be concerned about its present and future. Therefore, we emphasis our desire to see Iraq regaining its sovereignty, independence and freedom as quickly, as possible, and to restore the role that befits its status. This can be achieved only
through the withdrawal of the occupying forces according to a definite timetable to be implemented in parallel with electing a national government that represents the will of all sectors of the Iraqi people. Moreover, the United Nations organization should have an active role in helping Iraq to reconstruct itself in the way chosen by the Iraqi people themselves and not by anyone in their place.
We give deep thoughts to the abovementioned interrelated challenges on the Moslem youth who are aspiring to achieve social and economic development that would enhance their position and give them a role in contemporary society. We also give deep thoughts to their frustrations and sufferings while they see their land being occupied, their dignity impaired and terrorism attributed to them, while they directly see the biased policy of same of the super powers regarding their rights, and their being victims of the misleading and prejudiced campaigns aimed at ignoring their problems and aspirations. Therefore, we have to consider our duties to immunize against failing victims of extremist thinking and unwise policies adapted by the enemies of Islam in the world.
Our Organization is one of the main organs that binds together our countries and peoples. Undoubtedly, we would do well to push this Organization forward so that it becomes the active framework within which we discuss our affairs.
It is only natural for us to work to consolidate our relations through coordination, consultation, encouraging the commercial and cultural exchanges, mutual activities and exchange of experience. The dangers that we are facing are similar to a great extent. No country, no matter how big or resourceful it may be, can alone encounter the rising challenges.
The preparation of joint programmes of cultural and political activities aiming at defining current concepts, deliberately or indeliberately promoted by certain people against our cultures and civilization, is of utmost importance. Perhaps in the forefront of these important concepts that are used to justify wars, intervention in the affairs of countries, is that a€ terrorism which is being randomly used irrespective of terrorist practices exercised by certain states in the forefront of which is Israel.
Finally I call for increasing meetings and dialogue in order to reach common visions of our problems and challenges so that we may achieve real solidarity between our countries. I express the readiness and enthusiasm of Syria to contribute to preparing the appropriate programmes.
I wish our conference all success.
Wassalamu Alaikum wa rahmatu Allahi wa Barakatu