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Islamic Organization Leader Warns Of Intolerance, Islamophobia

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu

Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu

VIENNA -- The leader of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) says an increase in hatred and intolerance in society is a "grave threat" to peace and stability, RFE/RL's Tatar-Bashkir Service reports.

OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told the Organization for Security and Cooperation (OSCE) in Europe's Permanent Council in Vienna on May 6 that a coordinated effort is needed to battle the rise of Islamophobia, intolerance, and discrimination against Muslims.

He added that the goals and objectives of the OIC are not much different from those of the OSCE, as both organizations are devoted to the cause of international peace and security.

Ihsanoglu, who is Egyptian, also drew attention to the rise of Islamophobia in Western societies.

"We cannot ignore the fact that religion has been drawn into the agenda of international relations by the extremist elements who are active in creating tensions and who threaten stability, harmony, and even peace through provocation and incitement on religious grounds," he said.

Ihsanoglu also said that in his view he does not think the burqa is "truly related to Islam." He called the wearing of the clothing a "pre-Islamic habit" and added that he personally doesn't approve it. But Ihsanoglu said a ban on burqas is "very un-European" and urged Europeans to honor the values of "tolerance and freedom."