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Mubarak On Islam.

In a speech marking Laylat al-Qadr (in Islam the night of destiny), Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak on Oct. 19 questioned whether Muslims had done enough to change the West's "wrong perceptions" about Islam, which he said was under "ferocious attack". He said Islam needed a fresh religious discourse to promote tolerance and uproot extremist views, adding: "The Muslim world is facing a ferocious attack, describing Islam wrongly and offending Muslims' sacred [symbols and figures] and beliefs. Don't we Muslims share part of the responsibility for the wrong perceptions about Islam? Have we done our duty in correcting the image of Islam and Muslims?. Isn't it the time for a new religious discourse, that teaches people the correct things in their religion...and promotes the values of tolerance against those of extremism and radicalism?".

It was the most detailed remark yet by the Egyptian president on the need to reform Islam's jurisprudence to accommodate more moderate views.

OIC Plans Iraqi Meet: The Jeddah-based Organisation of the Islamic Conference plans to hold a reconciliation conference of Iraqi political leaders in Makkah during the coming Haj (pilgrimage) in late December. Arab News on Oct. 23 quoted "a high-level OIC source" as saying: "The plan is to bring together leaders of all political groups in the country around a table to discuss all outstanding issues in order to achieve national unity and establish peace and stability in Iraq".

The move follows n Oct. 19-20 meeting of 28 Shi'ite and Sunni religious scholars in Makkah which resulted in the signing of the Makkah Declaration forbidding Sunnis and Shi'ites from killing each other. The declaration is likened to a fatwa, although the signatories did not specifically describe it as such. The meeting called for a complete end to sectarian killings in Iraq. It agreed that all houses of worship were sacrosanct.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini later told reporters: "In the past few days we witnessed the successful organisation of Shi'ite and Sunni Iraqi scholars in Makkah and the signing of an accord. This was an initiative by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and the spread of such news truly sent a wave of happiness to the hearts of those worried about Iraq's security. We hope this can help different layers of the Iraqi people have peaceful lives together and thus neutralise the plots of those who wish Iraq ill". Amman on Oct. 22 expressed its support for the document. Speaking about the conference in Makkah, the OIC source said the plan included issuance of a comprehensive reconciliation declaration to prevent killings, destruction and acts of sabotage in Iraq, adding: "The still in the early stage... But there is a strong view in favour of holding the conference in Makkah during the Haj".

The Haj is expected to start on Dec. 29. The source disclosed plans to open an office of the 57-member OIC, the largest organisation in the Islamic world, in Baghdad. Ambassador Mahdi Fathallah, director of political affairs at the OIC, indicated that the OIC would play a greater role to bring about national unity and stability in Iraq, adding: "In the coming days, we'll follow the outcome of the Makkah Declaration and distribute its copies to all member countries".

OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the chief architect of the Makkah meeting of Shi'ite and Sunni scholars and the declaration, said a committee would follow up implementation of the agreement. He emphasised that a political will was essential for the success of the declaration.
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Title Annotation:Hosni Mubarak
Publication:APS Diplomat News Service
Geographic Code:7EGYP
Date:Oct 30, 2006
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