Maldives calls for a mechanism to counter islamophobia

Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid in an exclusive interview to Sun on October 21, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Maldivian Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid has called for a mechanism where the international community can work together to counter the prevailing atmosphere of islamophobia, that has afflicted the lives of Muslims across the world.

He made the appeal in his statement at the 47th Session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which kicked off virtually from the Niamey, the capital of Niger, on Friday.

The session was held under the theme “United against Terrorism for Peace and Development”, and brought together foreign ministers from 57 OIC member states who deliberated on the general policy of the organization and common issues facing the Islamic community.

Shahid, in his statement, highlighted the various issues facing the Islamic community and called for the greater unity and solidarity in dealing with terrorism.

He called on all OIC member states to unconditionally reject terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, and for a mechanism where the OIC and the wider international community works together to counter the prevailing atmosphere of islamophobia around the world.

Shahid also spoke of the situation in Palestine, noting that the Palestinian people now face more hardships with the COVID-19 pandemic, struggling both for their freedom and against the pandemic.

He reiterated Maldives’ call for a two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the of Palestine.

He said that the aspirations of the Maldivian people for a peaceful Middle East is tied to that of the Palestinian people.

Shahid also reiterated Maldives’ commitment to working closely with Gambia in seeking justice for the Rohingya people at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Shahid also stressed the importance of gender equality in ensuring a peaceful society and inclusive Islamic community. He noted that Maldives joined the OIC’s Women’s Development Organization last year, and urged the countries who are not yet members of the organization to join and contribute towards achieving gender parity.

Shahid highlighted on the COVID-19 situation in Maldives, including health, social and economic implications.

He said that Maldivian government was forced to take unprecedented and difficult measures to curb the pandemic, resulted in a multiple of adverse economic effects.

He further drew attention to the particular vulnerability of smaller states within the OIC to the COVID-19 pandemic, and called for greater concessional financing to aid with recovery and resilience.

He welcomed the Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, announced under the Saudi Arabia’s G20 Presidency.

Shahid met with a number of his counterparts in on the sidelines of the session, including the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Gambia, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Mauritania and Senegal.

Maldives became a member of the OIC in 1976. The OIC has 57 member states, comprising mainly of Muslim majority countries.