Istanbul hosted a congress to discuss problems and opportunities in the Muslim world and the perception of Muslims in the West in 2017.
Representatives of Muslim communities from across the world warned Tuesday against sectarianism, which they said harmed the Islamic unity. Istanbul hosted a two-day international congress for the union of Muslim communities under the theme "Global Crisis, Islamic World and the West." The congress organized by the Ankara-based Economic and Social Research Center (ESAM) will discuss the problems and opportunities in the Islamic world as well as the perception of Muslims in the western world. Speaking at the congress, Recai Kutan, General President of ESAM, said: "There are torture, blood, and tears today in most of the Muslim countries." Stating that the Western civilizations have dominated the world for the last two centuries, Kutan said the western countries first occupied and later controlled territories through imperialism. "That is the real face of the West," he said. "Today, they are using terrorist organizations PKK, PYD, YPG, and Daesh as subcontractors," he claimed and said their main goal was to redesign the Middle East. He warned against international efforts "to describe Islam as a religion which threatens peace" and "to accept Muslims as potential criminals." Kutan also pointed to the "brother fight" within Islamic countries and said it was becoming more widespread each day.
"Those fights serve Zionism," he said and warned of sectarianism. During the conference, he said, all those external and internal reasons behind the Muslim world's problems should be handled together. He called to "act together" and to "revive the Islamic civilization" for a needed "justice-based system." Addressing the attendees, Saadet Party leader Temel Karamollaoglu accused the West of practising double standards against the Islamic world. He said three historical incidents are behind today's problems in the Muslim world. "One of them is the first Zionist Congress in 1897 which was called by Theodor Herzl [political move for the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine]." "Another is the Balfour Declaration in 1917 [statement of British support for the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine]." The third event, he said, was the Israeli declaration of independence in 1948. "Unless we understand these turning points, it is impossible to understand what happens in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, or Yemen."
He also slammed sectarianism and called for Muslim unity. Prof. Abdul Ghaffar Aziz, Director of Foreign Affairs of Jamaat-e Islami, represented Pakistan in the congress. Aziz said Muslims in Palestine, Myanmar and Bangladesh “stand strong” despite years of siege in their countries. In order to be united, he said, Muslims should first "refuse injustice from any side." Zubeir Ahmed Elhassan Mohamed, the Secretary-General of the Islamic Movement of Sudan, said: "We cannot achieve anything as long as we do not bring an end to the divisions." He argued that international powers were trying to harm Muslim unity through sects. "Let's be aware of this fact and protect our young people from this poison," he added. Also among the speakers were Arif Ali Thottancheri, Vice President of India's Jamaat-e Islami Hind, and Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, the chairman of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in the Philippines. Both leaders focused on the need to unite Muslim communities around the world. "We know that the unity of the Muslims is the most feared by the enemies of Islam," Ebrahim said. Recalling Daesh attacks in the Philippines' Marawi city earlier this year, he said: "This group is not actually defending Islam; they have become an instrument in order to destroy Islam and Muslims."