Terror and violence are two of the biggest issues facing the Muslim world, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has said.
“We remember in the past how Afghanistan was destroyed, how hundreds of thousands of Muslims were slaughtered and how millions of others were treated unjustly due to al-Qaeda,” he said during the opening speech at the opening of the two-day 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Istanbul on April 14.
Now, it is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria, Iraq and Libya, and Boko Haram and al-Shabaab in Africa that are terrorist organizations that are sending shockwaves across the globe with their “cruel terror actions,” he said.
“Now Daesh [ISIL], which controls certain places in Iraq and Syria and is trying to gain control of Libya, serves the same dirty plans. We see Boko Haram and al-Shabaab, which conduct terror attacks in Africa, in the same category,” he said.
Apart from a few attacks for show, all these terror organizations oppress and harm all Muslims,” Erdoğan said.
“Terror and the problem of violence are two of the biggest issues that the Islamic world faces today,” said Erdoğan.
He said they had never approved of actions that target innocent people, adding that they evaluated such organizations as terrorist organizations without taking into consideration their beliefs, roots or discourse.
Such organizations do not represent Islam, he said. “Our religion is a religion of peace and compromise.”
Erdoğan also thanked OIC members for accepting a Turkish proposal to set up a multinational police coordination center for Islamic states to fight militants, to be based in Istanbul.
Erdoğan also proposed a body within the OIC to solidify and institutionalize the cooperation against terrorism.
“Once again, I call on the international bodies to review their approaches to terrorist organizations. It is necessary to conduct operations against terror organizations on the ground, while there should [also] be efforts to target those organizations’ financial and human resources,” Erdoğan said.
“For that, international cooperation is vital. Establishing a body that would solidify and institutionalize cooperation against terror within the OIC is the right step to take.”
Turkey is hosting the OIC summit for the first time since the body’s inception in 1969.
The two-day summit is set to strengthen unity and solidarity between Muslim countries in the fight against terrorism.
Erdoğan said the Islamic world should deal with terror and other crises themselves instead of waiting for “other powers to intervene.”
“We need to intervene and solve [problems]. When we don’t, others intervene,” he said, adding that if the alliance became active, Muslim countries could embark upon a new era.
The Turkish leader also stressed that Muslims need to overcome “the provocations of sectarianism.”
“My religion is neither Sunni nor Shiite. My religion is Islam,” said Erdoğan.
“We should be uniting. Out of the conflicts, the tyranny, only the Muslims suffer,” he said, adding the summit meeting could be a “turning point” for the whole Islamic world.
On the eve of the summit, Erdoğan welcomed his guests with a tour of the Bosphorus aboard the luxury presidential yacht the MV Savarona, which Turkey acquired in the 1930s for the use of its first president, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.