No Comment From Islamic Bloc on Beheading of American Journalist

By Patrick Goodenough | August 21, 2014 | 5:00am EDT

Organization of Islamic Cooperation Secretary-General Iyad Ameen Madani and Saudi Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal at one of two meetings it has held on the Gaza Strip in the last two months. The OIC has held no such session on the crisis in Iraq. (Photo: OIC)

( – The bloc of Muslim nations remained mum Wednesday on the killing of U.S. journalist James Foley by terrorists claiming to act on behalf of Islam and led by a man who – by naming himself “caliph” – lays claim to the mantle of Mohammed.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) posted no statement on either its Arabic or English websites about the death of Foley, whose decapitation featured on a video clip posted online by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.

(The OIC did find time Wednesday to post one new statement on its Arabic site, relating to Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque.)

An OIC-affiliated news agency carried a single story of Foley’s murder, written from a Washington angle and containing no Muslim reaction to the killing.

Queries sent to the OIC’s headquarters in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and its U.N. offices in New York and Geneva brought no response by press time.

Some Islamic groups and figures have repudiated ISIS this week, but the silence from the OIC is noteworthy, given its status as the official representative body of the world’s Muslim-majority states.

Over the 10 weeks since ISIS’ capture of Iraqi territory including the second city of Mosul, its declaration of a “caliphate,” mass executions of captives, and atrocities against civilians including Christians and Yazidis have galvanized international concern, the OIC’s secretariat has given the issue relatively little attention.

Since the beginning of June it has issued four statements on Iraq – one on Jun. 12 voicing concern about the fall of Mosul three days earlier; one on Jul. 2 welcoming a Saudi offer of humanitarian aid to Iraq; one on Jul. 21 condemning ISIS atrocities towards Iraqi Christians; and one on Aug. 13 welcoming steps towards the formation of a new government in Baghdad.

Over the same period, the OIC issued at least 17 statements on the Gaza Strip and “Palestine.”

Further, the OIC during that period convened two “expanded extraordinary meeting” at the foreign minister level, one on Jul. 10 and one on Aug. 12 – both relating to Gaza.

The period in question also saw the OIC hold its 41st annual foreign ministers’ gathering in Jeddah. Despite ISIS’ advances at the time across northern and western Iraq, the two-day conference on Jun. 18-19 gave virtually no time to Iraq:

--A 4,000-plus word keynote speech by OIC secretary-general Iyad Ameen Madani mentioned Syria and Iraq directly just once, lumped together in one sentence with Libya. (The single issue receiving the most attention in the speech was the Palestinian one, and Madani also referred to several other crisis situations, among them the Central African Republic and Nigeria.)

--A 1,200-word official OIC readout of the meeting mentioned Iraq and Syria just once, again in one sentence along with Libya. (“Palestine” got nine references and Jerusalem another 10.)

--A seven-page “Jeddah Declaration” issued at the end of the conference did not include a single direct reference. (Almost 600 words were dedicated to the Palestinian issue.)

Like other Islamic bodies, the OIC has taken pains to distance terrorism from Islam, insisting that notwithstanding the names, professed Qur’anic inspiration and religious terminology employed, jihadists like those in ISIS and al-Qaeda are not acting on behalf of their faith.

“The practices of ISIS have nothing to do with Islam and its principles that call for justice, kindness, fairness, freedom of faith and coexistence,” Madani said in his Jul. 21 statement.

In an Aug. 2 end-of-Ramadan statement, Madani warned, without mentioning any groups by name, about “the dangers emanating from extremist groups that have hijacked Islam and set themselves up as its spokespersons whereas Islam, with its values, civilization and inclusiveness, can in no way be associated with their abominable acts.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) on Wednesday called Foley’s murder “a violation of Islamic beliefs and of universally-accepted international norms.”

On Tuesday, in a statement issued before the Foley video appeared, Saudi Arabia’s grand mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh called ISIS and al-Qaeda the “number one enemy of Islam.”

In his statement on Foley’s murder Wednesday, President Obama declared that ISIS “speaks for no religion.”

“Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents,” he said. “No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day.”

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