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Islamic Summit Called to Discuss Rifts Among Muslims (CNS-CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE) By Patrick Goodenough 01/27/05)Source: http://www.cnsnews.com//ViewForeignBureaus.asp?Page=\ForeignBureaus\archive\200501\FOR20050127a.html CNS} CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE CNS} CYBERCAST NEWS SERVICE Articles-Index-TopPublishers-Index-Top
(CNSNews.com) - Saudi Arabia has asked Malaysia, which chairs a grouping of Muslim nations, to arrange a summit of Islamic leaders to address what the kingdom says is "the state of dismemberment and fragmentation" among Muslims.

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said his government would organize a summit of the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz said a summit was needed so Islamic leaders could "search for common ground and strengthen the bonds" among Muslims.

It should be preceded by a gathering of Islamic "thinkers and scholars" to discuss visions of the Islamic nation´s future, the official Saudi Press Agency quoted the prince as saying.

The Saudi leader, who was addressing heads of delegations of pilgrims visiting the kingdom for the annual hajj, did not elaborate on the rifts.

Religious scholars say the Islamic world, never united, has been in particular turmoil since the 9/11 Islamist terror attacks against the U.S., and was deeply unsettled by the U.S.-led military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq.

More recent Bush administration warnings about Syria´s support for terrorism and about Iran´s nuclear ambitions have prompted further concerns among Muslims.

Anti-Shi´ite violence in Iraq by Sunni groups opposed to Sunday´s election has also exacerbated differences between followers of the two schools of Islam.

A key concern is the perception that Islam is an intrinsically violent religion. In recent years, OIC representatives have held several meetings in Malaysia where efforts have been made to distance Islam from terrorism, but there has been little agreement among leaders when it comes to defining terrorism.

Abdullah, speaking on a visit to France, told reporters that a preliminary meeting would be held soon to identify subjects to be discussed at the planned summit, to ensure that the leaders´ gathering was not aimless and "without any fruitful conclusion."

He did not name any particular topics, and demurred when asked whether the summit was being called after President Bush recently said he would not rule out the option of military action against Iran over its nuclear programs.

"Let us talk about our concerns first," the Malaysian premier said. "Otherwise, we will be confused. If we are weak, others will threaten us."

On his return from Paris, Abdullah had more to say on the Iran issue, urging Washington to address the issue diplomatically and not "to attack Iran like it did Iraq."

He doubted the U.S. would have any support for military action against Tehran. "Europe does not agree, the United States´ close ally Britain does not agree, and I believe no one else will agree," he said.

"The Islamic world will definitely not agree to an attack on Iran ... talks should instead be held and made a priority, rather than military action."

The U.S. suspects that Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Iran insists its nuclear programs are for peaceful, power- generation purposes.

In a bid to resolve the dispute, Britain, France and Germany are engaged in discussions with the Islamic Republic. (copyright 1998- 2005 Cybercast News Service. 01/27/05)

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