By Ray Chickrie
Caribbean News Now contributor
GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- The Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG), in association with the Islamic Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO), and the Islamic Organisation for Latin America and the Caribbean (OIPALC), will host the ninth OIPALC conference on February 9 in Georgetown, Guyana.
OIPALC was formed some 15 years ago to promote awareness of the needs of Muslims in South America and the Caribbean. ISESCO has sponsored many of OIPALC programmes since ISESCO deals with the cultural and educational aspects of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Guyana, with a Muslim population of about 12%, is a member of the OIC. Neighbouring Suriname, with a Muslim population of about 20%, has also been a member of the OIC, the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and ISESCO since 1996.
The conference will be attended by some important figures from the Middle East and the region. ISESCO Director General Dr Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri will visit Guyana to attend the meeting, as well as the Under Secretary in the Ministry of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs of Kuwait, Dr Adel Al-Falah. In addition, officials from the Islamic Development Bank, (IsDB) the Islamic Solidarity Fund are expected in Guyana for the meeting.
Altwaijri is a social justice advocate and is one of the founders of the East-West dialogue. He has written and contributed in the field of human rights, democracy, modernity, economic and social justice.
According to Altwaijri, the upcoming visit and the meeting in Guyana are part of ISESCO’s “sustained effort to assist Muslim minority communities in preserving their cultural identity and help them fully integrate into their society and most effectively contribute to its development.”
Altwaijri said that the meeting in Guyana is very important because of the rapidly changing world.
“Mostly in the Muslim world, with as a most common source wholesale violation of international laws, abuses of all aspects of human rights, attendant socio-economic problems and unrelenting waves of hate, discrimination and extremism. The scope and scale of these changes and problems is such that the only solution is to promote dialogue among cultures and spread the values of understanding, coexistence and mutual respect between peoples and nations,” says Altwaijri.
President of Guyana, Donald Ramotar, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds, ministers of government, members of the diplomatic corps and leaders of local Islamic organisations will also attend the conference.
ISESCO, which is headquartered in Rabat, Morocco, was founded by the OIC in 1979 with the objective of promoting and consolidating cooperation with member nations in the fields of education, science and culture. ISESCO aims to promote and consolidate cooperation among member states of OIC in the fields of education, science, culture and communication, and to consolidate understanding and contribute to the achievement of world peace.
Guyana is considering ISESCO membership, which could lead to some tangible cooperation with the University of Guyana and other areas of education and the arts in Guyana. ISESCO is also willing to consider membership fee waiver and reduction for Guyana.