17 April 2014, Thursday
Today's Zaman

‘Islamic cities peaceful home for places of worship of all faiths’

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12 April 2012, Thursday /ABDÜLHAMİT BİLİCİ
The places of worship of all three Abrahamic religions sit peacefully side-by-side in cities where Islam is the dominant religion, including Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo and İstanbul, and the followers of these faiths live together in peace, Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Secretary-General Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu has said.

İhsanoğlu’s remarks came after a controversial statement by Saudi Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al al-Shaikh, who said in a March fatwa that new church building should be banned in the Gulf region and existing Christian houses of worship should be destroyed.

“I believe this is a personal opinion rather than being the opinion of a state or an official,” İhsanoğlu said in an interview this week with Today’s Zaman. “It is a historically well-known fact that Islam respects the religions of ahl al-kitab (People of the Book) and their houses of worship.”

İhsanoğlu mentioned a treaty that Caliph Omar had signed with Christians in Jerusalem on the protection of churches, creating a model for the Islamic world of how to treat the houses of worship of other religions. According to him, the Ottomans had adopted the principles laid out in this treaty. “This document outlines the legal framework for the issue,” he said, adding that Islam’s respect of all three faiths is also clearly seen in cities with mostly Muslim inhabitants. “We must keep these beautiful examples in mind.”

Turkey’s head of the Religious Affairs Directorate, Mehmet Görmez, also lashed out at the grand mufti’s call against churches in the Gulf region. Görmez told Today’s Zaman earlier this month that the announcement is in total contradiction to the peaceful teachings of Islam, and he cannot accept the fatwa, as it runs contrary to the centuries-old Islamic teachings of tolerance and the sanctity of institutions belonging to other religions.

He emphasized that Islam has always respected religious freedom. “The opinion of the grand mufti also obviously contradicts the agreements that the Prophet of Islam signed with the non-Muslim communities both in Medina and in the region. It also plainly overlooks the right of immunity given by Islam to the holy shrines and temples of other religions on the basis of the rule of law throughout its history,” Görmez explained.

Görmez slammed Abdulaziz, stating, “We strongly believe that this declaration has left dark shadows upon the concept of rights and freedoms in Islam that have always been observed on the basis of its sources, and it will not be recorded as an opinion of Islam.” He also added, “We, therefore, entirely reject the aforementioned opinion and hope that it will be amended as soon as possible.”

İhsanoğlu: Not Arab Spring but autumn when dictatorships have been toppled

OIC head İhsanoğlu also spoke about the wave of democracy flowing through the Middle East. He said the spring will arrive after a hard-fought struggle for democracy. “I have always argued against this word, spring,” he said. “This was rather the autumn of Arab despots. And during this autumn, despots are going one by one. Spring will come later. This is a long autumn. Later will come a long winter. We have already started experiencing this winter in some countries.”

İhsanoğlu underscored that democracy will not be achieved in a day, and the states already enjoying it have a long and agonizing history behind them. He said Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are on the right path, but it will take time to establish a democratic regime in these states. Speaking about Turkey’s role in the ongoing turmoil in Arab nations, he said the leaders of Islamic states agree that Turkey and its active foreign policy has an important role to play in coming up with solutions during the turmoil.

He further noted that the OIC does not believe the tumult in Syria has a sectarian basis but rather can be classified as the demands of citizens for democratization. “It would be the biggest crime to turn this into a sectarian fight. And it would be the biggest blow dealt to the Syrian people, state and the entire region,” he said. İhsanoğlu also said only the United Nations can impose sanctions to stop the bloodshed in Syria, and the OIC has adopted silent diplomacy to contribute efforts to establish peace in the conflict-stricken nation. He added that the OIC is against an external intervention in Syria. “Because the [results of] external interventions show that they don’t bring solutions and instead lead to further calamity.”

@Dutch Turk...........There is urgency for love and intelligence in our world. There is an urgency to forgive and assist our fellow man. May we be united with deep respect, esteem and appreciation although we may not always agree on matters. Let us agree to disagree.I wish good luck and good health....
@Hyena's, johan, migo and too simple simon. I live in NL and love my country, love my Dutch countrymen, i am ready to serve the Netherlands with any means. But i am still a Turk and love Turkey with all my heart and i am ready to face the enemy of the Turkish race and Turkey. I hope and pray for Tur...
In terms of killing, for most of the past 1,000 years the Western world has been the undisputed champion: World Wars I and II alone accounted for around 100 million people; more recently, The Lancet put the number of Iraq War casualties at over 600,000. That said, there are several pertinent quest...
Unfortunately, Mr. İhsanoğlu, just saying it doesn't make it so. I think the Saudi Grand Mufti's statement is much closer to the mindset of Muslim states when it comes to religions other than Islam.
@Dutch Turk.............. Of the four largest non-Western immigrant groups in the Netherlands, the Turks and Moroccans exhibit low labour market participation, high unemployment and welfare dependency rates and relatively poor school results, even among the second generation. You can check these st...
Islam a religion of peace? Then why so many are KILLING EACH OTHER? And please, don't blame the West for the atrocities of muslims against muslims. TODAY, practically all acts of terrorism is done by Muslims. THose who deny it are simply brainwashed or plain blind. Go ahead, name the Norway or any n...
DutchTurk says that he has adjusted to the cultur of Holland? Ha ha ha ha. He is among the most radical nationalist and extreme Islamists here on the forum. Ha ha ha adjusted? ha ha ha ha ha
Social wellfare is nice
@Dutch Turk I am sorry, but 70% of the Turks who live in Eruope are living on the charity of their guest lands, produce one child after the other on the expense of everybody els. You did send us the ignorant crap from Anatolyia, not the intelligent ones!
Funny comments, ignorant westerners blaming Muslims and Muslim countries as always- totally ignoring their own crimes across the world. It's quite preposterous.
When rulers start dancing to the tune of Colonial powers, the country becomes war zone and not safe for any constructiive work. We hope there will be peace and stability in Egypt, Tunisia and Lebanon -- the power house for welfare. But Pakistan is a different fish, the rulers are dancing to the tune...
Professor İhsanoğlu is correct insofar as he is citing historical examples. One look at the skylines of Istanbul, Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad - studded with old churches and synagogues of great beauty - shows this. However, a combination of Arab nationalism, extremist Islamism and uncritical anti-We...
I relly love that if somebody talks about "peace" with clenched fists! That says it all even before he opens his mouth, what a clown! Islam is the most violent, oppressing and intolerant religion in our days and people living under this yoke are so used to it that they even do not realize it any mor...
Why did he not mention Mecca and Medina? Officially no non-Muslim is even allowed to live there and there is no official church nor synagogue anywhere in all of Saudi Arabia. Look at Morocco, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Aceh in Indonesia, all places where Christians suffer heavy discrimination unde...
May be this gentleman should look at the statistics of Christians and Jewish populations in these countries 100 years ago and today. The true story is actually quite different. @Meat: Yes, when Muslims have disagreements among each other or no strong government, they usually kill the Christians firs...
Social welfare is nice aka johan aka scared jood, listen you goof, the Netherlands is also build with the labor of the Muslim migrants. Also the Muslims pay tax in the Netherlands 10% of the population. I live in a country with a Christian heritage and i respect that totally and adjust myself, but i...
The headline two days ago in Zaman was that a pastor in Istanbul was beaten up severly by three men. One should wait at least a few days after such an incident to write this type of nonsense.
Uncle Billy
Damascus under Assad, Bagdad under Saddam, and Cairo under Mubarak the above article is true. That is to say that under dictatorships in Islamic states, Christians have relative freedom but when those systems are toppled then all hell breaks loose as we see in Cairo, Bagdad and will happen if Assad ...
Uncle Billy
DutchTurk. Are you not living in a Christian country? Given education, health care, freedom, pension, and everything else provided by the Dutch tax payers. How dare you, if any, raise your voise in this matter the way you do? Shameful. You even have decided to stay with Christians in Holland instead...
Social wellfare is nice
It is reassuring to see that most people who comment do not buy this nonsense. Turkey for a century has made it nearly impossible to be a religious minority. Jews, never high in numbers, have all but left. Bagdad once had a massive Jewish community and they were run out of town, fleeing to Israel...
Christoph is absolutely correct, this viewpoint is mindless propaganda. Islam is an intolerant Faith and every majority Islamic nation in the world persecutes minority Faiths to some degree. Look at Turkey's history of persecution of minority Christians and Jews-hardly any exist in Turkey anymore. D...
Ihsanoglu has a very short memory.Does he remember or know what the Ottomans did to the Christian and in particular to the thousands of Armenian churches in Turkey.Is this the Turkish version of the Islamic relegion? Just this week a priest was beaton in the Turkey because he is Christian. The word...
Christoph, The most tolerant people in history are the muslims. the christian minority were protected in the ottoman empire according the sunna of the PROPHET MUHAMMED S.A.W. until the ottomans got backstabbed by the christians. people get nowadays prosecuted by not obiding the law and order, whic...
in Damascus non-sunni muslims are clinging to dictatorship to avert the fate of non-muslims in Iraq. in Syria no jews remain. In Baghdad almost no Christian or jew remains is left and “najat” church atrocity is a testimony to what could be the fate of non-muslims in muslim majority countries. In Car...
what is this guy talking about??? Christian church have been burned in Egypt, with Christians in them, in the recent past. Jews were forced out of Iraq and Syria and to this day, being a Christian or Jew in the countries mentioned, is a risky business.
The grand mufti should first address the question of stationing of christian and other non-Muslim armed forces in the land of Holy Prophet by the government of K.S.A. and then pronounce on the desirability of allowing or not allowing the Churches. If the Swiss do not allow us to have minarets on our...
@Christoph. Ask yourself when Christians came under threat in Iraq. It was when the Christian USA invaded. Shocking that under a brutal dictator Christians flourished but under Western Democracy they are removed. This shows that under Islamic period they where well off and vibrant community as they ...
Bwhahaha! Who in the world does he think actually believes this lie?
@Christoph the puppet, you suffer from a selective memory dude, what about Muslims killed/massacred in Bosnia, Cyprus, Kosovo etc... Your prejudiced comments never make sense, look at your own faith and country first. You come here 24/7 only to bash Turkey or Islam. At least the Turkish religious le...
This is a bald-faced lie. Christianity is under threat in nearly every predominently Moslem nation in the middle east, most recently in Iraq, Syria and Egypt. It has almost been elminated in Turkey, after a century of often violent repression. To suggest otherwise is disingenuous in the extreme. Isl...
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