National Press Club

Islamic Conference Head Wants to Help US-Muslim Relations

June 24, 2009 | By Peter Hickman |

captions in here

The Organization of the Islamic Conference wants to help "open channels" between the United States and the Muslim word, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told a June 23 Newsmaker. The Egyptian-born Turkish academic also said he hopes President Obama will follow President Bush's move in appointing a prominent Muslim as the U.S. representative in this area.

The OIC is the second largest intergovernmental organization -- after the UN -- with 57 member countries and five observer in four continents. Established in Morocco in l969, its headquarters are in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

Major OIC issues include economic development, women's issues and research and development in Muslim countries. The conference wants member countries to contribute a certain percentage of their GNP for R&D.

Asked for his reaction to French president Nicolas Sarkozy's ban on Muslim women wearing clothing that hides their faces, Ekmelledin straddled the issue by saying that while people should be free to dress as they wish, they should also respect the rules and customs of the country they are visiting or residing in.

He also said Obama's position to not interfere in the current post-election anti-government in Iran is "correct."

He said the OIC favors a nuclear-free Iran, noting the precedent of Kazakhstan, which inherited the former Soviet Union's facilities, of a country giving up its nuclear possessions.