International terrorism is at the top of the agenda of any organisation which has a part to play on the world stage and that includes the Council of Europe. Islamic terrorism in particular has had a major impact. But in a bid to hear the main stream voice of Islam, the Council of Europe recently invited Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu to speak in Strasbourg.
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu is the secretary general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference or the OIC.It’s an inter-governmental organisation grouping fifty-seven states together to represent the interests of their own people and Muslims world wide. While in Strasbourg, the secretary general gave an interview to Euronews.
Euronews:“The terrorists of the London attacks were born in Britain, what do you think this tell us about the extent of the radicalisation in Europe’s muslim communities?
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu: “This is very sad. In my letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair I expressed how sad we felt about this. We condemn this, we condemn all acts of terrorism. We want European public opinion to know that Islam is a religion of peace and there is no single doctrine in Islam, no single value in Islam which teaches people to kill others. By definition it is prohibited to kill anybody, if you kill somebody it’s as if you have committed a crime against humanity. Those people who kill others have nothing to do with Islam.
We shun them, we denounce them, they are not representing the Muslim world, they have nothing to do with the Islam world, and the Muslim world has nothing to do with these people. These people are using Islam because they think that this appeals to the people and they think it justifies their actions. This is totally political.”
Euronews: “So what is your organisation doing to combat and to prevent terrorism?”
Ekmeledin Ihsanoglu: “We invite the UN, we invite all the international organisations including the European Union and the Council of Europe, to act together, to define terrorism, and to take international measures to combat terrorism. No one, no single country, no single institution, can cope alone as this has become a universal phenomenon. It is universal. It’s not only within the Muslim world, you have terrorism in Sri Lanka, you had it for years Northern Ireland and you have it in Spain. You have it everywhere. So this is an universal phenomenon, unfortunately it needs an universal concerted effort to combat it.”
Euronews: “Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general has proposed an idea called “Dialogue of civilisations”. What do you think of this project which actually was an idea thought up by Turkey and Spain?”
Ekmeledin Ihsanoglu: “The Dialogue of civilisations for a long time now has been one of our main activities. OIC, (the Organization of the Islamic Conference), was the first organisation to advocate the dialogue of civilisations. In 2001, the UN, on the request of OIC, declared 2001 the year of dialogue among civilisations.”
Euronews: “The European governments are looking for a single speaker for the muslim community. For instance in France it is the Islamic Council. What are your thoughts on this?”
Ekmeledin Ihsanoglu: “We have to encourage this provided that these councils are representative of all different groups. I think this is a solution for better relations between Muslim communities in European countries like France, Germany and England, where you have a big Muslim communities.”
Eurnews: “What can be done more to integrate the muslim communities in Europe?”
Ekmeledin Ihsanoglu: “I think first of all a better understanding and better respect. Respect and understanding if they are there, on a mutual basis, I think there is no problem that could not be solved.”