Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC)

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ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE (OIC)

Cooperative organization of Islamic countries created on 25 September 1969 at the special Islamic summit in Rabat following the fire at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem. Sponsored by King Faysal of Saudi Arabia and including twenty-three Muslim heads of state, the Rabat summit founded the OIC to safeguard the holy sites of Jerusalem. Among the goals of the organization were "the safeguarding and protection of the holy sites of Islam, of which Jerusalem is one of the essential elements; support for the just cause of the Palestinian people, deprived of its legitimate rights; support for peoples and populations that are victims of oppression and racial discrimination." The OIC has headquarters in Jeddah and includes three decision-making organs: the summit of heads of state, the conference of ministers, and the office of the secretary general; it controls fourteen institutions, including the al-Quds Committee, presided over by the King of Morocco; the Committee of Six on Palestine; the Islamic Development Bank; and the Islamic Solidarity Fund. In 1972 the OIC adopted a charter fixing the promotion of Islamic solidarity as a principal objective of the organization. As a religious entity, the OIC has been amenable to contacts with the Catholic Church. On 7 April 1981 its secretary general, Habib al-Shatty, was received by Pope John Paul II. On 28 June 2001, as a gesture of support for the al-Aqsa Intifada in the Palestinian territories, the OIC ended its annual summit, which was being held in Bamako, Mali, with an appeal to Muslim countries to break off relations with Israel. Since 2001 the secretary general of the OIC has been a Moroccan, Abdelouahed Belkeziz. In 2004 the OIC included fifty-seven member states.

SEE ALSO Aqsa, al-; Aqsa Intifada, al-.