This year’s summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) opened Wednesday afternoon in Cairo, bringing together 26 Muslim heads of state out of the organisation’s 57 member-states.
Following an opening speech by by Senegalese President Macky Sall, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi addressed the audience.
Morsi stressed that, day by day, the Muslim world was facing “new and pressing challenges.”
Political crises in Syria and Mali were expected to top the agenda of the summit, which is being attended by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Ahmadinejad’s visit marks the first trip by an Iranian head of state to Egypt since 1980.
"Syria is still bleeding and our hearts continue to bleed with the Syrian people", Morsi stated. He added that the troubled country’s political process should be “inclusive” and not exclude any faction based on political or sectarian considerations.
The Egyptian leader also described the resolution of the perennial Israel/Palestine issue as "the cornerstone of stability in the Middle East."
He went on to commended Palestinian success in winning observer status at the United Nations last November, stressing that such an achievement could not have been realised without joint cooperation.
Morsi also stressed the importance of promoting a “moderate version” of Islam in light of a rising tide of fanaticism in the region. He pointed to “numerous attempts” to tarnish the image of Islam around the world, saying it was the responsibility of OIC member-states to rectify wrong impressions.
Morsi also noted the economic stagnation currently facing the Muslim world.
"We must maximise the use of resources in Islamic nations to realise the region’s deserved position in the world," he said, noting that 21 of the member-states present – including Egypt – remained underdeveloped.
He further pointed out that, in post-revolution Egypt, a whopping 38 per cent of Egyptians lived under the poverty line.
Morsi concluded by vowing to exert maximum efforts during his tenure as president to support “unity and cooperation” between various Islamic institutions and organisations to work towards a unified goal.