President Donald Ramotar (L) meets ISESCO Director General Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri. GINA photo
By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- On the occasion of hosting the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) ninth meeting of the heads of Islamic Cultural Centers and Associations in Latin America and the Caribbean, Guyana joined ISESCO, further consolidating its ties with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which it joined in 1998.
On Monday, Dr Abdulaziz Altwaijri, the director general of ISESCO, held talks with President Donald Ramotar and members of his cabinet, including Foreign Minister Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and Dr Frank Anthony, minister of culture and sports.
During that meeting Guyana joined ISESCO, becoming the 52nd member of that group, which is an organ of the OIC.
Neighbouring Suriname, also a member of the OIC, is a member of ISESCO and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB). Last week the IsDB approved a loan of US$60 million for the health sector in Suriname.
Guyana is also keen to join the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and is interested in Islamic banking and finance. A meeting between Abdelrahman Elzahi, an expert in Islamic banking and finance from the IsDB, and Guyana’s Ministry of Finance, the Bank of Guyana, and banks in the private sector will also take place during the three-day conference.
During the opening session of the ISESCO meeting on Sunday, Ramotar urged the organisation to deepen fraternal ties amongst members and engage in culturally sensitive dialogue in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“It cannot be an abstract or merely philosophical exchange,” he explained.
He added that he had great confidence of dialogue’s ability to “bridge differences, dismantle barriers and discard stereotypes”.
Ramotar urged religious leaders not to be oblivious to the issues affecting their societies. Ramotar, a strong advocate of a free Palestinian homeland, alluded to the Palestinian struggle for an independent homeland since 1948. He also described various religious conflicts around the world as being rooted in economics, and urged the gathering to raise their voices in solidarity with those fighting for their dignity.
Also Monday, Altwaijri and Ramotar discussed plans to boost the fields of education, science, communications and culture, with assistance from (ISESCO).
According Altwaijri, ISESCO is considering a proposal for the establishment of an Islamic educational centre in Georgetown for the training of teachers, vocational training, and curriculum developers that will assist the government of Guyana in the education sector.
He said support will be extended to scientific research and high performing students, from both sexes who will benefit from scholarships.
“This is a responsibility that ISESCO will carry from its side,” he said.