Erdoğan urges Islamic leaders to ‘pay their dues’

Erdoğan urges Islamic leaders to ‘pay their dues’

Erdoğan urges Islamic leaders to ‘pay their dues’

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, center, addresses the leaders and representatives of the Islamic countries during the second day of the 13th Organization of Islamic Cooperation, OIC, Summit in Istanbul, Friday, April 15, 2016 - AP photo

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Istanbul on April 15 witnessed a heated debate over unpaid dues and unfulfilled donation pledges, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan telling the participants that it was “time to pay up.”

Turkey will donate a total of $2 million to the OIC, Erdoğan said at the summit, calling on volunteer countries to publicly declare their own donation pledges at the summit.

“Of the money we have donated, $1.8 million will be delivered to the secretary-general’s office. $100,000 will be delivered to the Human Rights Commission and another $100,000 will be delivered to the Islamic Unity Fund,” said Erdoğan. 

However, his call for further donations was rejected by a group of states led by Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi, Indonesian and Kuwaiti delegations said they would prefer to talk about donations in mutual, smaller talks, while the other participant countries remained silent.

This reaction received a swift reply from Erdoğan, who said there would be no need for donations if all OIC member countries had paid their dues, stating that only 20 countries out of 56 members had been loyal to their debts. He then went on to read the list of the 20 countries that were regular payers.

“The other countries have problems in their payments. The amount that should be paid to the General Secretary is $160 million dollars. How active can you be if the amount is not paid? It seems that no one else wants to express the amount,” Erdoğan said.

The Turkish president later held a joint press conference with OIC Secretary-General Iyad Madani, where he said the “three main problems” that Muslims experience are “sectarianism, racism and terror.”

“We can’t overcome the problems we experience if we can’t unite. It is really sad that the heirs of a civilization that is built on the pillars of peace and justice is remembered mostly for civil wars, armed clashes, sectarian fanaticism, and terror,” Erdoğan said.

“I find it worth stressing something here: In sectarianism, the one who is killed is a Muslim and dies while saying ‘Allahu Akbar’ [God is great]. The one who kills also says ‘Allahu Akbar,’” he said, adding that the only religion they all share is Islam.

“We are neither from the Shiite religion nor the Sunni one ... We only have one religion and that is Islam. I’m a Muslim,” Erdoğan said.

He also said racism causes divisions among Muslim countries and removes them from their inner conscience and humanity.

“God created us in tribes. We respect everyone’s tribe. We respect every tribe and race in the world. If one race tries to prove superiority over another, that is mischief,” Erdoğan said.

On the third major issue of terrorism, the Turkish president slammed Russia’s decision to arm the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which he said were “terrorist organizations.”

“Humanity is paying the price for terror now. We’ve been struggling with terror for nearly 35 years in our country. The number of people we’ve lost and the financial price is obvious. The PKK [outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party] gave birth to new terrorist organizations. Among them are the PYD and the YPG. Russia says it is arming the PYD. The ones who are siding with terrorist organizations are no longer hidden, but out in the open,” Erdoğan said.

He also stressed that the jihadist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Boko Haram were “not related to Islam,” saying “our religion is a religion of peace.”

Meanwhile, the OIC summit’s final communique was issued on April 15, in which it emphasized the need to preserve Syria’s unity, independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. The OIC also condemned the “aggression” of the Republic of Armenia against the Republic of Azerbaijan, calling on Armenia to withdraw its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh region “completely and unconditionally.”

The OIC also condemned Lebanon’s Hezbollah, the Shiite organization fighting alongside the Syrian army, for its “terrorist activities” in Syria, Bahrain, Kuwait and Yemen and for “supporting terrorist movements undermining the security of OIC states.”

At the summit, Turkey formally took over the OIC chair for the next two years.