by Tahir Mustafa (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 49, No. 8, Safar, 1442)
Organizations are created to serve certain specific objectives and purpose. When they fail to fulfill them, they become irrelevant and ultimately bite the dust. Two organizations are well known among Muslims: The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), and Arab League, the latter preceding the former by 24 years.
There are other groupings as well but they are not confined to Muslims or Arabs so we will not detain ourselves with them here. Of the two organizations mentioned above, the OIC, though younger than the Arab League, is a much larger body with 57 members. The Arab League has only 22 members and as the name suggests, its membership is confined to Arab countries only.
The OIC came into existence in the wake of the arson attack on Masjid al Aqsa on August 21, 1969. Amin al-Husseini, the former Mufti of Jerusalem, called the arson a “heinous Zionist crime” and called for all Muslim heads of state to convene a summit. Israel tried to deflect criticism by claiming that the perpetrator — Australian Christian fundamentalist Denis Michael Rohan—had a ‘mental problem’ (Israeli soldiers that shoot Palestinian children or pregnant women perhaps also suffer from mental problems!).
The fire at the sacred Al-Aqsa Mosque destroyed part of the old wooden roof and the 800-year-old pulpit that had been provided by Salahuddin Ayyubi after the liberation of Jerusalem and Palestine from the clutches of the Crusaders in 1187 CE. Muslims knew precisely who the perpetrators were even if the dastardly crime was perpetrated by a sick Australian.
On September 24-25, 1969, a summit of representatives of 24 Muslim majority countries (most of the representatives being heads of state), was held in Rabat, Morocco. Given that the Islamic Conference was convened to consider the serious issue arising out of the arson attack in Masjid al Aqsa, some Arabian rulers including the Moroccan hosts also invited India, a Hindu majority country.
It was the firm stand taken by Pakistan whose delegation was headed by President Yahya Khan that India was barred from attending. Using its customary deception, the Indian delegation was headed by Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, a Muslim who later served as India’s president from 1974 to 1977. India attempted to present itself as a country friendly to Muslims.
What Hindu fascists have done to Muslims in recent years should serve as an eye-opener for everyone to see the duplicitous nature of Hindus. The family of the nephew of Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed has been excluded from the National Register of Citizens (NRC). So much for respecting the family of a former president!
The more important question, however, is why did the first Islamic Conference even think of inviting Hindu India to the summit? The crisis at hand was of specific concern only to Muslims? Born amid such confusion, it is not surprising that the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) as it came to be called and subsequently changed its name to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, has been such a roaring failure.
In 1969, Pakistan carried some weight and it could demand that India not participate or it would walk out essentially making the first-ever Islamic Conference a complete failure. Last year, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) convened a meeting of the Foreign Ministers of OIC member-states. The Emiratis invited Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj as ‘chief guest’, much to the chagrin of Islamabad. The most the Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi could do was to protest and not attend the session at which Ms. Swaraj was to speak (Ms. Swaraj died a few months later of a heart attack and her body was cremated).
Like Pakistan’s declining fortunes over the years, the OIC has also become irrelevant. On August 4, 2020, Mr. Qureshi had to publicly state that if the OIC would not convene a meeting of the council of foreign ministers to lend support to the suffering Kashmiri people, Pakistani would call a meeting of friendly countries that would. The OIC, dominated by Saudi Arabia, not only dismissed Pakistan’s ‘request’ but also recalled its loan and terminated the discount oil supply arrangement with Islamabad.
It is fair to ask whether the OIC has achieved anything by way of helping Muslims anywhere? What good is an organization, regardless of the number of members, when it has not solved even one problem of the Muslims? It is time to bury this dead entity that most people deride as “O I see” when its name is mentioned!
Like the OIC, the Arab League has also become totally irrelevant. Its meetings are marked more by squabbles than any concrete action. Its proclaimed main goal is to “draw closer the relations between member states and co-ordinate collaboration between them, to safeguard their independence and sovereignty, and to consider in a general way the affairs and interests of the Arab countries.”
Yet its record shows otherwise. Syria, a founding member, has been barred from its deliberations because some of the other regimes are opposed to the government in Syria. In the early 1980s, Egypt was boycotted despite the League’s headquarters being in Cairo that were moved out to Tunis. Egypt’s sin—and it was a disaster for the Palestinians—was to sign the peace treaty with Israel. Others have since followed suit: Jordan (1994), the UAE and Bahrain (the latter two only last month).
The Palestinian cause has been completely abandoned. Yemen, a member of the Arab League, is under attack from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Sudan, all members of the Arab League. Other League members conspired to destroy Syria and Libya. Far from solving any of the problems facing the Arab world, the League has added to them.
On August 4, there was a massive explosion in Beirut resulting in the death of nearly 200 people and another 300,000 being rendered homeless. The Arab League was nowhere to be found. It seemed as if death had overtaken it.
The infrequent meetings the League holds are mired by insults, bickering and irrelevant issues. The recent League meeting on September 8 was called to condemn the UAE normalization of relations with Zionist Israel. Far from condemning such betrayal, the League actually launched a campaign against Turkey. In the past, members have attacked Iran.
The illegitimate and cowardly Arabian rulers have never addressed any serious issues facing the region as a result of their treachery but keep looking for Muslim enemies. With nothing positive to their credit, they keep adding to people’s problems.
To deal with this menace, a good starting point would be to abolish the Arab League. This useless forum of squabbling potentates like school children in a playground needs to be consigned to the dustbin of history. The potentates will follow soon thereafter, insha-Allah.