President calls for broad based input to address hunger, poverty and inequalities – at opening of Heads of Islamic Associations Meeting
Georgetown, GINA, February 10, 2014
President Donald Ramotar indicated on Sunday evening pledged his support for the hosting of the historic three-day meeting of event Islamic Cultural Centres and Associations in Latin America and the Caribbean, and stated that the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO), is an important layer in the regionalism process between Latin American and the Caribbean.
President Donald Ramotar addressing stakeholders at the 9th Meeting of the Heads of Islamic Cultural Centres and Associations in Latin America and the Caribbean
Formally declaring open the 9th Meeting at the Guyana International Conference Centre, Liliendaal, the President said that regionalism operates on many fronts, and while progress at the political level has been somewhat slow, he is always encouraged by the creation of bodies such as the Presidents of Islamic Organisations of Latin America and the Caribbean. He encouraged the ISESCO to deepen fraternal ties amongst members and engage in culturally sensitive dialogue given the peculiarities of the region. “It cannot be an abstract or merely philosophical exchange”. He added that he had great confidence of dialogue’s ability to “bridge differences, dismantle barriers and discard stereotypes”.
A call was made by the President for religious leaders not to be oblivious to the issues affecting their societies, and noted that many times some of them have had to be part of various struggles for justice and equality. He alluded to the Palestinian situation which has been ongoing for decades. He also described some of the religious conflicts in various parts of the world as being rooted in economics, and called on those gathered to raise their voices in solidarity with those fighting for their dignity.
ISESCO Director General Dr. Abdulaziz Otheman Althwaijri, addressing stakeholders at the 9th Meeting of the Heads of Islamic Cultural Centres and Associations in Latin America and the Caribbean
He also called for broad based participation to address the challenges of hunger, poverty and inequalities in the distribution of wealth, citing a recent study that showed that around 85 persons in the world control more wealth than the “bottom three billion people on our planet. That, obviously, is a recipe for disaster. That is what is at the heart of many of the conflicts that we see in our world today”. Wealth creation is important and how society is organised to ensure its fair distribution will have to be addressed by all stakeholders, the President said. In closing, he urged the stakeholders attending the congress, to not only to look at the gains, but also the challenges facing Latin and South America as they move forward with their deliberations.
Also attending the event were the First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, Cabinet members, as well as a host of heads of cultural centres and Islamic associations in Latin America and the Caribbean, and the representatives of the Islamic institutions organising the meeting.
President Donald Ramotar, First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar, ISESCO Director General Dr. Abdulaziz Otheman Althwaijri and CIOG President Fazeel Ferouz in discussion at the 9th Meeting of the Heads of Islamic Cultural Centres and Associations in Latin America and the Caribbean
At the start of the meeting, Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, Director General of ISESCO, underlined that the organisation is bound by fruitful cooperation ties with international and regional organisations and bodies in all parts of the world, and is engaged in the promotion of a culture of peace and justice based on the values of dialogue, mutual understanding and mutual respect, through its programmes, activities and strategies.
He highlighted that ISESCO takes particular interest in building channels of cooperation with all parties, sharing such an interest in these lofty universal ideals in order to counter all forms of incitement to hatred, racism, violence and terrorism. “Today’s world is actually in need for all devoted initiatives aimed at strengthening the bonds of co-existence, tolerance, solidarity and just peace”.
Regarding the theme of the meeting, he underlined that IESCO deemed appropriate to make the implementation of the “Initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques for Dialogue among Followers of Religions and Cultures” in Latin America and the Caribbean as the theme of this meeting. “This is in conformity with the relevant resolution of the 7th Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers, held in Algiers in December 2011, which commended and adopted the document ISESCO prepared on the Initiative, and invited the organisation to increase its efforts to put into effect the Initiative’s constructive proposals and implementation mechanisms,” he explained.
He also added that the 7th Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers entrusted ISESCO with the task of preparing a detailed action plan to implement the document’s recommendations, and referring it to the Saudi Arabian parties in charge of the Initiative in order to adopt it, publicise it, activate its proposals, and adopt it as a roadmap to achieve its lofty goals. In this regard, he highlighted that the 8th Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers, held last month in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah, adopted the executive plan of this pioneering Saudi initiative.
In the same vein, he underscored that the establishment of the Vienna-based King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Centre for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue was a practical step towards the implementation of the Initiative of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, particularly as the Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers invited the Centre to seek inspiration in the document and its recommendations in discharging its functions as part of its role in the Initiative’s implementation.
From left to right: CIOG representative Shaik Moeen-ul-Hack, Minister of Housing, and Water Irfaan Ali, First Lady Deolatchmee Ramotar, President Donald Ramotar, CIOG President Fazeel Ferouz, ISESCO Director General Dr. Abdulaziz Otheman Althwaijri and OIPALC representative Muhammed Yusuf Hallar at the 9th Meeting of the Heads of Islamic Cultural Centeres and Associations in Latin America and the Caribbean
Similarly, he pointed out that the meeting is invited to study the items placed on its agenda which concern examining ISESCO’s document on the imitative and its executive plan and considering the reports of the heads of Islamic cultural centres and associations in Latin America and the Caribbean.
He also outlined the different stages of the implementation of ISESCO’s Strategy for Islamic Cultural Action outside the Islamic World through holding several meetings for the heads of cultural centers and Islamic associations in Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
Head of the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana, Fazeel Ferouz, in brief remarks said that Guyana’s hosting of the conference allows stakeholders to bring valuable experience of inter-religious cooperation into their deliberations, “As we move closer to future of peace and understanding and harmony across cultures”.
The occasion also saw the presentation of a series of Guyana Classics to the Director General of the ISESCO by Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport Dr. Frank Anthony. Commemorative plaques were also presented to the Head of State, Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, and OIPALC representative Muhammed Yusuf Hallar.