An international body that will support the integration and protection of Muslims who are minorities in the countries they live in was officially launched this week.
The group, the World Council of Muslim Communities, was formed following a two-day conference held in Abu Dhabi that was attended by representatives from more than 140 countries.
More than 550 political, scientific and religious community leaders met at the International Muslim Minorities Congress to discuss a number of topics affecting Muslims worldwide including ways to prevent radicalisation among an estimated 500 million Muslims who live in countries as minorities.
The main aim of the conference, which was convened over by the Muslim Council of Elders, was to encourage the integration of Muslims in non-Muslim countries and discuss challenges around issues of Islamophobia and extremism.
Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak, Minister of State for Tolerance, gave the keynote speech on Tuesday saying the UAE was a model of tolerance due to its leadership and the existence of “educational and media institutions that are playing their assigned role without prejudice side by side with other state departments to protect the society from the perils of fanaticism and extremism, while promoting human values among all segments of society.
“We, in the UAE, draw benefit from the guiding principle of Islam and from our national heritage in turning all the achievements we are making into a driving force for the achievement of peace and prosperity,” he said.
The conference also saw the adoption of the Global Charter of Muslims Communities, which calls on the UN to put in place a binding international agreement to protect minorities’ rights and their fundamental freedoms as religious, ethnic and linguistic groups, prevent all forms of racial and religious hatred and discrimination, prevent abuse of other people and religions, and to condemn all kinds of crimes of ethnic or religious cleansing.
The charter also encourages countries to provide a special law on the rights of religious minorities and asks Muslims to “do their duty towards their communities and countries to achieve social peace and security and to protect their children from the currents of extremism and separatist movements.”
Muslims community leaders said Muslims should respect the laws of their host country while maintaining their values and encouraging multiculturalism.
The World Council of Muslim Communities will support the charter and co-ordinate the efforts of local institutions that represent minority Muslims to help correct the stereotypical image of Islam and reduce the cultural gap between members of society.
The conference agreed to intensify efforts made by international organisations to promote and strengthen dialogue, tolerance and understanding between religious groups and to prevent abuse -particularly through social media.
A committee will be formed to follow up on the conference’s recommendations.