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OIC Urges End of US Occupation of Iraq - 2003-10-13

Senior officials from the 57 member states of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world's biggest Islamic organization, have urged the "eviction" of U.S. troops from Iraq.

Israel's air strike on Syria and the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians were discussed, but it was Iraq that dominated discussion at the opening of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Malaysia.

Syed Hamid Albar, foreign minister of Malaysia, says the foreign occupation of Iraq must be brought to an end as soon as possible.

OIC secretary general Abdelouahed Belkeziz says the dangers confronting Muslims are unprecedented, and the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States resulted, in what he says is, a campaign against Islam and Islamic culture.

Imran Waheed, who heads the British Islamic Liberation Party which advocates the creation of a single, Islamic state for Muslims, says that despite strong language, the meeting will have little effect on the Muslim world.

"I can not really see that Muslims view this organization as having any credibility, because, let us face it, most Muslim countries are ruled over by autocratic dictatorial regimes whose rulers generally have cordial relations with the West," said Mr. Waheed. "Muslims are disillusioned with the rulers … and … meetings such as this do not … have much influence in terms of the Muslim masses."

But the OIC is seeking to change this.

Malaysia's Syed Hamid Albar complains that the organization is crippled by its inability to develop an Islamic perspective of events and issues affecting the Islamic world.

He is calling for Islamic leaders, who are set to convene on Thursday, to give the OIC the political direction and financial assistance to forge cooperation among its 57 members.

One big challenge faced by the OIC this week is a dispute among Muslim countries about dispatching peacekeepers to Iraq to help the U.S.-led coalition.

The United States has turned to India and three predominately Muslim countries for assistance, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Turkey. Only Turkey has agreed, but the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing Council is resisting the presence of Turkish troops.