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Move to Include India as ‘Observer’ in OIC

Bangladesh has called upon the Islamic nation to give India the status of an “Observer” in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. The OIC was formed in the year 1969 with 57 Member countries. The Government of Bangladesh recently said that since India has a vast population of Muslims, it should be given observer’s status in the OIC. Russia and Thailand which are not Islamic nations have been given “observer” status in the OIC because they have a sizable Muslim population. But India and Ethiopia despite having large Muslim population have been denied the position in the OIC. Dacca has argued that by making India an observer nation, relations of Islamic nations would improve with non-Islamic countries of the world. There is nothing wrong with the proposal and India should not have any reservation in accepting the membership of the OIC as an observer. India has largest Muslim population after Indonesia. Except for one country, India has cordial and friendly relations with all other members of the OIC. The country with which India has hostile relation is Pakistan, a fact known to the world.

OIC Will Benefit

By making India a part of Islamic Nations, even though as an observer, the OIC will benefit in international relations. It goes without saying that no member nation of the OIC is a secular state. They are all hardcore Islamic nations. Take the example of Pakistan. After some time there will be no trace of the non-Muslim population in Pakistan. Certainly, once India is admitted as an Observer country, there will be some trace of democratic spirit in the Islamic nations. The Islamic nations will become little more accommodative. At present, there is no place of non-Muslims in these countries. They take India as a role model. Some countries with a liberal approach like Indonesia and Gulf countries may rally around India.

Lack of Cooperation in OIC

This is also a fact that the OIC so far has failed to emerge as an effective body. Even in crisis the member countries don’t stand to help one another. Take the case of Rohingya Muslims. Even Bangladesh refused to accept Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. Bangladesh has made it clear that it would not give shelter to refugees from Myanmar. A minister of Bangladesh Md Shahriar has said that Rohingya Muslims are grave threat to the internal security of Bangladesh. But few thousands of Rohingya Muslims entered India clandestinely. Even Islamic nations like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have not allowed Rohingya Muslims to enter their territories. Just see no Islamic country is ready to give shelter to Rohingya Muslims. Turkey is one nation that has extended some help to Rohingya Muslims and allowed them to enter the country in a limited way. It is worth taking note of as to why the Islamic countries have developed cold feet in case of Rohingya Muslims. Noted writer Taslima Nasreen has taken class of Islamic nations on the issue of Rohingya refugees. She has accused the Islamic nations of discrimination and neglect of Muslims in their own country. In a tweet Nasreen has said, “Muslims cry for those Muslims when they are by non-Muslims but the same Muslim community is silent when Muslims persecute Muslims in Islamic nations”. She is right.

There is no protest when Muslims are killed by Muslims in Syria and Iraq. There are hostility and tension amongst the member countries of the OIC. Saudi Arab and Iran are sworn enemies. There is hostility between Pakistan and Bangladesh and Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Fighting Terrorism

It is unfortunate that Islamic extremism is thriving in some countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. Right from Turkey to Kashmir, Islamic terrorists are indulging in violence and killings of innocent people. The terrorists are roaming in many countries of the world to unleash violence.

Last year during the month of Ramzan, there was big attack on the international terminal of Ataturk Airport in Turkey. The terrorists outfit the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-ISIS was behind the attack. Turkey was once considered a peaceful nation; ideal Islamic country. But terrorists have given bloody knock in Turkey. Terrorists became more active after the end of the ceasefire agreement between Turkey and Kurdish extremists. With increasing incidents of terrorism in Turkey, Kashmir, Paris, Nairobi, Peshawar, and Nigeria it is being realised that it is time to fight Islamic terrorism in the world and that all countries should unite to take on terrorists. Since India has been a target of the terrorists attack and it is India which has been fighting the terrorists, the Islamic nations are thinking to join hands with India in fighting the menace of terrorism. If OIC wants to finish the terrorists, the Islamic nations would have to fight dreaded outfits like ISIS, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and Al-Qaeda.

It is being debated in the world if it is right to identify terrorism with any religion. This is also a fact that majority of the terrorist bodies comprise of Muslims. The general view is that it is wrong to identify terrorism with Islam. Just because a few misguided and bloodthirsty Muslims are involved in terrorist acts, the entire Muslims community should not be held ‘guilty’ of the crime. Noted author Salman Rushdie has raised fresh controversy by saying that “Since Islamic terrorism is part of Islam, to finish it we must accept this reality”. He further said, “Violent face of Islam is also Islam which has taken the shape of a monster in recent years”.

Rushdie, a British writer of Indian origin had described the Islamic world by writing the book The Satanic Verses. The then ruler of Iran Ayotollah Khomeini had issued fatwa to behead Rushide and promised huge money to the man who would kill Rushide.

If one disagrees with Rushdie’s point of view then it will appear that there is no co-relation between terrorism and Islam. Those terrorists who indulge in violence and blood bath in the name of Islam are not Muslims, it is yet another argument. It is also a fact that terrorists who massacred school children in Peshawar claimed that they were Muslims.

There is a favourable situation for India to become a member of the OIC as an observer as a result of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s renewal of ties with the Islamic nations and good work being done by the Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj. But Pakistan will try to obstruct the entry of India in the OIC.

R K Sinha

(The Writer is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha)

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