Kuala Lumpur, Dec 19 (IANS) An international summit for leaders of Muslim countries began in the Malaysian capital on Thursday with a call for unity aginst the challenges of poverty and Islamophobia.
But the differences between the Muslim-majority countries had cropped up ahead of the event, as only 20 nations from the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation agreed to send their leaders for the three-day Kuala Lumpur summit, reports Efe news.
The major Islamic countries that refused to attend the summit included Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan, with the bloc also criticizing the event, saying such gatherings would divide the Muslim world and undermine the OIC.
Those who attended the summit included the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and President Hassan Rouhani of Iran.
The summit hosted by Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad was formally inaugurated by the federation’s monarch, Sultan Abdullah Riayatuddin.
“There are many challenges facing us in this highly complex world we live in today. To me, the need for unity of our Ummah (Islamic world) as well as to bring development to our communities are the two most important ways to meet those challenges,” the King said in his address.
Mahathir, in his address to the gathering, sought to allay the fears that the event was to create more divisions or isolate any Muslim nation.
“We are not discriminating or isolating anyone. We are attempting to start small and if these ideas, proposals and solutions are acceptable and proved workable, then we hope to take it up to the larger platform for consideration,” he said.