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Muslim nations vow to combat extremism


Daily Star:

Leaders at the biggest ever Islamic summit on terrorism vowed Thursday to fight extremist ideology, saying they would reform textbooks, rein in the issuing of religious edicts and crack down on terror financing.

After a two-day summit in the holy city of Mecca The leaders of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) agreed a 10-year plan to increase trade between Muslims and to set up a fund for development and emergency relief for those in need among the world's one billion Muslims but failed to say how they would raise the money.

They also pledged to "update national laws to criminalize all acts of terrorism as well as its financing and incitement."

In a Mecca Declaration read out in a final session, they also called upon their peoples to "combat forcefully the preachers of sedition and deviation, who aim to distort the peaceful principles of Islam."

"The Islamic nation is in a crisis. This crisis does not reflect on the present alone, but also on its future and the future of humanity at large," the statement said.

"We need decisive action to fight deviant ideas because they are the justification of terrorism," it said. "We are determined to fight terrorism in all its forms."

In the declaration, the countries promised to "change national laws to criminalize financing and incitement" as well as correct school curriculums to purge extremist ideas.

"Islam is the religion of moderation. It rejects extremism and isolation. There is a need to confront deviant ideology where it appears, including in school curriculums. Islam is the religion of diversity and tolerance," it said.

It also underlined that fatwas must only be issued by "those who are authorized," an effort to rein in edicts by clerics who denounce other Muslims as "apostates" and allow their killing.

In an attempt to address sectarian divisions among Muslims, an article which bans accusations of apostasy being leveled at certain groups was added to a 10-year "plan of action to confront the challenges of the 21st century."

The article, which appears aimed at reducing tensions between Sunni and Shiite Muslims, stressed "the correct belief of Muslim groups ... as long as they believe in God ... and all principles of Islam."

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal described the pledges as "irreversible" but acknowledged that member countries had the duty of putting them to the test.

"It is now up to every Muslim government to implement the measures, God willing " he said at a press conference.

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah, speaking at the opening session of the summit Wednesday, called for moderation in Islam.

"Islamic unity can't be achieved by the spilling of blood, as deviant people claim by their dark ideas," he said.

Jordan's King Abdullah II, who has played a leading role at the summit, pressing for strong language against terrorism and extremist ideology said: "The subject that should have priority over all these subjects is the consensus among us as Muslims on who is a Muslim and on the condition of Ifta, (edict making)."

Saudi Arabia's king held talks with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was making his first visit since taking office in August.

Later both walked side by side with other leaders as they walked around Mecca's Kaaba shrine seven times according to Islamic rites. - Agencies

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