The Participation of the Ambassador Dr. Ezzat Saad at the Sixth Annual Meeting of the Group of “Russia and the Islamic World – A Strategic Vision”
On 26th -27th May 2016, the sixth meeting of the “Russia and the Islamic World –A Strategic Vision” group was held in Kazan, capital of the Republic of Tatarstan. The meeting was held with the participation of experts and senior officials from some 30 Islamic countries, including Arab countries (Egypt / Saudi Arabia / UAE / Qatar / Iraq / Morocco / Libya / Jordan).
The organizers of the meeting organized a day-long visit to the ruins of the historic city of Bulgar (about 300 km south of Kazan) which was the capital of the Bulgar kingdom located on the Volga River, and to which the Abbasid Caliph in Baghdad sent Ahmed Bin Fadlane in 922 AD to acknowledge its the king of Islam. The area includes some archaeological sites registered by UNESCO as a common heritage of humanity including a new mosque, meeting rooms below, and a church erected on the ruins of a number of mosques existed before the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917.
The Russian side informed the participants that President RustamMinnikhanov laid the foundation stone for an Islamic Academy in the historic city on 21May 2016. The former President of Tatarstan M.Shaimievand the group’s honorary president supported the Academy, which would serve all of Russia and the countries of Central Asia with which Tatarstan maintains a regular contact, to graduate preachers and imams by adopting a moderate approach based on tolerance and rejection of militancy and violence. Shaimayev stressed that all types of support should be provided for preparing the building which will be the largest in the Euro-Asian region.He explained that “the number of mosques in Tatarstan has increased from 25 mosques in the Soviet Union to about 1500 mosques now.
The meeting was opened on the morning of 27 May 2016 with a welcoming speech by President Vladimir Putin, delivered by Ambassador Mikhail Bagdanov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister for Middle East and Africa, and Putin’s Special Envoy to the region.
– With the support of Russia, the forces of terrorism and extremism in Syria were dealt a heavy blow. Nevertheless, these forces and their supporters continue to seek to destabilize the situation in the region and to do their best to undermine international efforts to resolve this conflict.
– In connection with the foregoing, these terrorist and extremist forces seek to exploit the differences and tensions among ethnic and religious groups and use the legitimate dissatisfaction of the Muslim peoples with regard to external interference in their internal affairs to achieve their own interests.
– Russia will always be a sincere friend and ally on which the Islamic world can depend reliably. It will always be ready to provide its support against the global challenges and threats. In this context, Russia expects the Islamic countries to take an active position to integrate the principles of justice and the rule of law, and to reject economic dictations and media pressures in the international relations.
– Putin expressed confidence that the meeting, as in previous meetings, will contribute to strengthening mutual trust, understanding and cooperation between Russia and the Islamic countries, governments and peoples.
RustamMinnikhanov, President of the Republic of Tatarstan and the Chairman of that year’s meeting stated that the ethnic and cultural diversity of the Russian society, especially the Republic of Tatarstan whose half of its population is Muslim, pointing out that the number of Russian Muslims exceeds 20 million, and that Islam entered the country through Tatarstan more than a thousand years ago. Mr. Minikhanov expressed Tatarstan’s welcome to Islamic investments, pointing to the attractive climate and its economic and developmental boom in recent years.
– He pointed to some of the activities undertaken by the group (Russia – the Islamic world), most notably the establishment of a website for the group and the preparation of documentaries, most notably about the Emir of Kuwait, and hosting youth and media activities held in Russia.
Opening speeches were also given by:
– Sergei Nareshkin, speaker of the Russian Duma:
– He emphasized the depth of the ties between Russia and Islam, which are recognizable by the Russian culture and literature and the traditions of the Russian people themselves.
–The representative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC):
-The speaker delivered a speech on behalf of the organization’s Secretary-General, IyadMadani, and stressed on the priority of combating terrorism, the hate speech to Islam and Muslims and the humanitarian situation in the Islamic world. He also indicated to the new plan of the organization (2015 – 2025)and illustrated that it aims to enhance its role regionally and internationally and adopt a strategic vision that includes specific priorities in the areas of peace and security, combating terrorism and extremism, supporting development and alleviating poverty, pointing out that Russia has an important role that can contribute to facing these challenges through joint cooperation with the countries of the organization.
–Mr. Ahmed Mohamed Ali, the Chairman of the Islamic Development Bank:
– He delivered a speech at the opening session and focused on the following:
– There is a successful experience of cooperation between the Bank and the Russian Federation, which began in the days of the Soviet Union on a limited scale then it began to include cooperation in the sectors of mining and vocational training, health and education (with the Council of the Mufti of Russia) and cooperation between Russian and Malaysian universities through 25 educational projects worthing $ 8 million. In addition, the Bank has organized conferences to encourage investment in Russia.
– There many opportunities for cooperation and partnership between Russia and the OIC countries such as joint cooperation in the fields of agriculture, industry, information and communication technology, and promotion of trade and direct investment.
– The chairman stressed that there are many objectives which can be achieved between the two sides in the field of Islamic banking, and that Kazan can be qualified to be the center of the Eurasian business.
At the conclusion of that session, the Chairman of IDB signed three memoranda of understanding for cooperation between the Bank and three Russian banks, including the Central Bank.
The group’s coordinator, Ambassador V. Popov, the Director of the Center for the Partnership of Civilizations at the Moscow University of International Relations of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, presented the activities of the group between the sixth meeting of the group (11-12 June 2015) and the Kazan meeting, as steps to enhance long-term communication and cooperation between Russia and the Muslim world:
Launching a Website for the group in July 2015 – called rusisworld.com – and chaired by Ekaterina Podkolzina.
Translating a number of Russian books into Arabic, Persian, Turkish and other languages, and vice versa.
3.The launch of the Forum of “the Media of Islamic Countries against extremism and terrorism” in August 2015, which held its second meeting in Moscow with the participation of about 70 media and thinkers from different countries. The said meeting stressed the need to adopt a strategy to abort the use of the media and the Internet to manipulate public opinion and instill radical thought among young people. Ambassador Popov called upon Russia’s friendly countries to call on international organizations, especially the United Nations, to take effective steps to correct the concepts through the global information space by closing channels that broadcast and disseminate terrorist ideology. This ideology and its related acts are subject to the criminal prosecution of national and international courts.
Organizing camps for Muslim youth in a number of Russian cities.
Producing documentary films on senior politicians from the Islamic world in Russian and English.
The Launch of a Russian center for the rehabilitation of wounded children during military operations in the Middle East. (The Russian side requested the Islamic Development Bank’s support for this center).
The Russian leadership decided that the meetings of the group will be held annually, and that the President of the Republic of Chechnya, Ramadan Kadyrov, will host the meeting of the group next year.
The participants’ interventions focused on the problem of international terrorism from different angles and the ways to confront it, including protecting Muslim youth from radical and extremist ideas, political use of terrorism and cooperation between Russia and the Islamic world in various fields.
–The intervention of Ambassador Dr. EzzatSaad, the Director of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, came as the following:
– The current circumstances in the world and in the Middle East in particular require addressing the phenomenon of terrorism and the reasons behind it through a comprehensive approach that takes into account the various environments that harbor terrorism, especially the international environment, resulting mainly from the mismanagement of the international peace and security file by the United States since the end of the Cold War.
– He also stressed that it is wrong to adopt the Western vision that explains the phenomenon of terrorism as linked to Islamic fundamentalism, Arabs and Muslims and to the culture of these peoples. The attacks in Brussels – and before them Paris – occurred from people born in the Western Europe.
– The reports of the UN Special Committee on Combating Terrorism, established on 18 December 1972, indicate that there are 390 terrorist organizations in 60 countries around the world, including European countries. The networks supporting terrorism are spread across different countries and are linked to the trade in arms, drugs and organized crime groups.
– Any progress in the fight against terrorism requires sincere international cooperation and good faith because terrorism has become a tool in the hands of some States to achieve political objectives.
– He emphasized the role of Al-Azhar and its Imam in spreading the culture of Islam and promoting the values of tolerance and co-existence. He responded to the youth’s inquiries about the ambiguous concepts promoted by some extremist groups to attract young people to carry out acts of violence, killing and burning against their countries. In this context, he referred to Dr. Al-Tayeb’s tours in some African countries, including Nigeria in April 2016, the stronghold of the terrorist organization “Bokoharam”, and other countries in Asia and America, either as president of the Muslim Council of Elders or as Imam of Al-Azhar or in cooperation between the two sides.
The work of the meeting culminated in a statement included a summary of the main issues addressed. Some terms have been proposed to be amended such as replacing Radicalism with Extremism, and International Scale “Global” with Global Threat to International Peace and Security and the platform agreed to introduce amendments to the final version of the statement.