ABUJA – Nigeria has called on the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) to urgently address the numerous challenges of conflicts and terrorism facing member states.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Aminu Wali, made the call in an address to the 41st Council of Foreign Minister of the 57 member states on Thursday in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
This is contained in a copy of his address made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Thursday.
Wali said Nigeria was convinced that the OIC had a crucial role to play in changing negative perceptions about Islam in various parts of the world.
The minister, who is attending the meeting of the group for the first time since he assumed office on March 5, said Islam had erroneously been seen “as literally synonymous with conflicts and violence’’.
According to him, the OIC must promote a better and deeper understanding of Islam which abhors violence, hate and fear.
“We must raise greater awareness about the Islamic faith and address Islam-phobia by seeking to remove distrust and stereotypes about the religion.
“We must work harder to delist our member states from the ignoble map of flash points of conflict and hotbeds of terror in the world,’’ he said.
He also urged the group to continue to build bridges of understanding, cooperation and partnership across the globe.
Citing ongoing conflicts in Somalia, Mali, the Central African Republic, Syria and Central Asia, Wali traced their origins in “intolerance and bigotry’’.
He challenged the powerful bloc to fashion out strategies to address these conflicts in a comprehensive manner.
On the Palestinian/Israeli dispute, Wali said the ultimate resolution of the dispute must be anchored on the full restoration of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people within a two-state solution.
He said Nigeria had already congratulated the Palestinian people on its recognition as a UN state member by the UN and the UNESCO.
On the threat of Boko Haram in Nigeria, Wali commended the OIC Secretary-General, Mr Iyad Ameen Madani, for coming out strong to isolate the terrorist group as unIslamic, criminal and outlaws.
The minister also thanked members of the organisation for the show of solidarity, empathy and support for Nigeria and victims of the terrorist organisation.
“This solidarity has strengthened the resolve of the Nigerian Government to intensify its efforts at securing the release of the innocent schoolgirls abducted from Chibok, Borno, Nigeria.
“It has also encouraged us to rededicate our efforts and resources toward the total elimination of the menace of Boko Haram insurgency,’’ he said.
He urged OIC states to join hands with Nigeria to tackle the menace of Boko Haram and other similar terrorist activities that had given the “religion of Islam undeserved name and image’’. (NAN)