President Erdoğan Addresses the Opening Session of the 13th Islamic Summit

President Erdoğan Addresses the Opening Session of the 13th Islamic Summit

Delivering an address at the opening session of the 13th Islamic Summit of the OIC, President Erdoğan underlined the menace of sectarianism as the top challenge that has to be overcome. “As I have always expressed, my religion is neither Sunni nor Shi'ite, my religion is Islam. Just like my 1.7 billion siblings, I am purely and simply a Muslim. All the other differences come after this belief and title of mine.”

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan participated in the 13th Islamic Summit Conference of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, hosted by Turkey at Istanbul Congress Center. The opening session of the summit, which witnessed the biggest attendance of all the OIC summits held so far, has taken place with the participation of heads of state, government and parliament of member states along with the Secretary General of the OIC.

The opening session kicked off with the recital of Holy Quran by Imam Khatip of Beştepe People’s Mosque. After the greeting speech of the OIC Secretary General Iyad Madani, President Erdoğan delivered the opening address of the Summit.

Beginning his address by voicing his pleasure over hosting the attendees in Turkey, President Erdoğan thanked former term president Egypt for its efforts and endeavours during its term presidency, and Indonesia for hosting the 5th Extraordinary Summit of the OIC on Palestine and Al-Quds Al-Sharif on March 6-7, 2016.


Wishing the summit conference to bring peace, security and prosperity to all Muslims and the entire humanity, and to yield a favourable future for everybody, President Erdoğan said: “We are going through a period in which we need these wishes and prayers more than ever. We should hurry to live up to the theme of the summit, which is ‘justice and peace’ and to solidify these concepts because the cries of the oppressed and victims raise from all corners of the world along with heartbreaking images of the slain. Unfortunately the majority of these images and cries belong to Muslims. I am of the belief that the Islamic world has now turned its face towards this summit in Istanbul in the expectation of good news.”

“As I have always expressed, my religion is neither Sunni nor Shi'ite, I am a Muslim. Just like my 1.7 billion siblings, I am purely and simply a Muslim. All the other differences come after this belief and title of mine,” President Erdoğan stated, underlining ‘the menace of sectarianism’ as the top challenge that has to be overcome. President Erdoğan stated that pains will not cease as long as we turn a deaf ear to the order Prophet Muhammed voiced in his last sermon that “All Muslims are the siblings of each other. Goods and blood of a Muslim [without his/her consent] are not halal to his/her Muslim sibling.”


Emphasizing that terrorist organisations attacking innocents and plundering their properties everyday under the name of Islam can never be the representative of this holy religion, President Erdoğan, referring to a verse from Holy Quran which orders justice, goodness, righteousness and helping each other while forbidding ugly acts, evil and injustice, continued: “Those acting in obvious contravention of these orders cannot act in the name of Islam and cannot be beneficial to Muslims. The more we fall out with each other as Muslims, the more pains the innocents who rely on us suffer. We cannot take on such a sin. Therefore we should be uniting, not separationist. We should consolidate alliances and affection rather than controversies and animosity because out of the conflicts, contentions and animosities only the Muslims and Islamic countries suffer. We should increase the number of our friends and decrease enemies. We shouldn’t forget that we are Muslims to the extend we value our fraternity. I pray to Allah for this summit conference to be a turning point on the way to unity, solidarity, fraternity and cooperation among Muslims.”

Pointing out to damages and slaughters the terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda inflicted in Afghanistan in the past, President Erdoğan stressed: “Now Daesh, which controls certain places in Iraq and Syria and tries to get control of Libya, serves the same dirty plans. We see Boko Haram and Al Shabaab, which stage terror attacks in Africa, in the same category. Apart from a few attacks for show, all these terror organizations oppress and harm all Muslims”


Underscoring that they never approve of any attack on innocent people in any place of the world and that they designate whoever resorts to such acts a terrorist or a member of terrorist organisation regardless of their beliefs, ethnicities or discourses, President Erdoğan noted that all terrorist organisations, including the PKK, PYD and DHKP-C are the common enemies of the Muslims and humanity.

Stressing that Western states maintain an ambiguous attitude towards terrorist organisations and recalling that speakers who delivered a speech at the Nuclear Security Summit in the US spoke of terrorist attacks that had taken place in western cities while making no mention of deadly terrorist attacks that had occurred in Istanbul, Ankara and Lahore, President Erdoğan added: “This ambiguous attitude saddens us. All terrorist organisations should be struggled against with the same determination. Countries that disregard our friendly warnings about terror will have to live this experience, as they do now. I once more call on the international community to revise their stance on terrorist organisations. In addition to operations against terrorist on the ground, eliminating the financial and human resources of terrorists should also be included in the fight against terrorism. International cooperation bears significant importance to this end.”


It would be right to establish a body that would consolidate and institutionalize cooperation among member states of the OIC, President Erdoğan stated, voicing his gratitude for the support the OIC gave to Turkey’s proposal to establish an Istanbul-based ‘OIC Center for Police Cooperation and Coordination.’ President Erdoğan underlined that Islamic Alliance Initiative against terrorism formed under the leadership of Saudi Arabia should also be promoted and turned into an effective body.

President Erdoğan continued as follows: “Instead of waiting for other powers to intervene in the terrorist incidents and similar crises that break out inside Muslim countries, we, ourselves, should come up with solutions via Islamic Alliance Initiative against terrorism. Why are we, as Muslims, seeking help from others in the face of such controversies among ourselves and such terrorist acts? We should intervene in these incidents ourselves. However, we don’t intervene and others do. While they are intervening, they are doing this for the oil, not for the restoration of peace. That is why we should be sensitive on this issue. I especially would like to stress that this initiative isn’t aimed at any country, but it is aimed at terrorism which is a common problem for all countries. I am of the belief that should this initiative achieve the efficiency and capacity we desire, a new era will be ushered in for the Islamic world.”


“Today, Muslims across the world feel they are subjected to injustice and double standards,” President Erdoğan said and he further stated: “Muslims, who are oppressed, live under pressure and suffer from injustice in their own countries, seek ways to go to Western countries. There is a dangerous rise in hate crimes like Islamophobia and xenophobia, targeting Islam and Muslims in Western countries.”

Noting that the unfair representation of Muslims in global decision-making mechanisms causes significant discomfort among the Muslims, President Erdoğan said: “Muslims make up one quarter of the world’s population. Do they have even a single permanent representative at the UN Security Council? Does it mean anything to be a non-permanent member? No. Even a single one of the 5 permanent members acts negatively, it is over. I say ‘the World is bigger than 5.’ The world is no longer in the conditions of the post-WWI era. The conditions have changed. Therefore, the UN must be reformed. If we want a fair world, which is our right, it is not possible for a system based on injustice to contribute to global justice. We see the difficulties, caused by that, in many problems we are faced with. I would like to reiterate my call to revise the structure of the UN Security Council by taking into account the geographic and religious distribution of the world’s population.”


Stating that the Islamic countries should prioritize security, justice and development, President Erdoğan said: “Those, who do not feel safe where they live, cannot be sure of their future. It is inevitable that people, who give up hope of justice become vulnerable to the abuse of terrorist organizations because it all begins and ends with justice. We cannot let our brotherhood go unfulfilled. We should carry it into action in all aspects, technically, commercially, economically, culturally and socially.”

“We should endeavor together to ensure that women take much more active roles in all areas from education to business in addition to strengthening their position as the bearer of the family,” President Erdoğan said, proposing to form a women’s conference within the OIC that will convene on a regular basis in Istanbul. The President said: “I believe it is a must to have an organization, a council where Muslim women can discuss their problems.”


President Erdoğan also proposed that the Red Crescent organizations, which play significant roles in solving humanitarian crises, cooperate more efficiently and comprehensively, that the capacity of the Islamic Solidarity Fund be increased to help and support those in need more potently, that a similar version of the system of arbitration, which has an important role in global economy, be established by the Islamic countries, and that the Islamic Development Bank be used more actively to support these efforts.

Mentioning that the OIC Programme of Action: 2016-202, which has been negotiated for the last year and set development goals for member countries in all areas for the next decade, President Erdoğan said: “ It is important that the preparations for OIC Programme of Action: 2016-2025 have been completed. However, what truly matters is to successfully implement this programme. I will personally monitor the duties of the COMCEC, which I chair, in terms of implementing the OIC Programme of Action: 2016-2025. We are determined to make sure that the COMCEC operate in accordance with its new strategy and status, adopted in 2012.”


Reminding that the OIC was founded in 1969 in the wake of the assault on Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, President Erdoğan said: “It has been almost 50 years but neither Jerusalem has been saved nor the pressures on the Palestinians have been alleviated. The atrocities, our Palestinian brothers suffer from under Israeli occupation, are a bleeding wound in the heart of the Islamic world. The Al Aqsa Mosque is an Islamic sanctuary. We cannot allow an illegal occupation to be used as a ground for violations targeting the Al Aqsa Mosque. We, as Muslims, should endeavor more to preserve the Al Aqsa Mosque and Jerusalem. The only way to attain permanent peace in Palestine as well as in the region is through immediately ending the occupation and founding an independent Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital. We, as the OIC, should help the Muslim people more, who struggle for their rights and futures in other geographies.”


Calling on the members to break the isolation of the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus that has been imposed for years, President Erdoğan asked: “If it is not us, the Islamic world, then who will give a message to our brothers and sisters in Cyprus that they are not alone?” The President further stated: “Muslim communities, living in various places on earth from the Balkans to Southeast Asia and to Africa, need the strong support of the Islamic world. Is it possible to remain silent in the face of the occupation of Crimea in Ukraine? Let me be clear; it is a source of shame for all of us that almost all of those, who try to go to Europe in scrappy boats via the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas, are Muslims. If these people, estimated to be millions, had to embark upon such a journey for their safety and future at the risk of their lives, then we must sit back and think. The number of people, we rescued solely in the Aegean, has amounted to 100 thousand. Our Coast Guard boats saved them from the sea. We did it because it is our Islamic, humane and conscientious duty to do so. We should analyze the reasons this migration, which used to be from Europe to our lands once, reversed its direction very well. We, representatives of countries who are here today, have great responsibilities. We should be aware that we bear the responsibility of the Ummah, we should discuss all matters here and quickly carry the decisions we make into effect.”

Underscoring that they need to work harder to restore justice and peace, the theme of this year’s summit, President Erdoğan ended his speech as follows: “I wish the 13th Islamic Summit Conference of the OIC yield beneficial results for Muslims and the entire humanity.”


Afterward, President Erdoğan attended an official luncheon, hosted by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu in honor of the heads of delegations participating in the Summit.

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