In this photo released by Saudi Press Agency, Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi attends the opening of an extraordinary session of the Organization of Islamic Conference in Mecca, Saudi Arabia (Photo: AP)
President Mohamed Morsi emphasised the importance of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran working together to solve the Syrian crisis during a speech at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation's (OIC) two-day summit in Mecca, Tuesday night.
"It is time for the Syrian regime to leave," said Morsi during what is considered to be his debut appearance at a key international event since assuming the presidency and the first time in Egyptian history that a head of state has called for the end of President Bashar Al-Assad's regime. The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, who were de facto rulers of Egypt following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak last year, refrained from making a public statement on the issue during their 18 months in power.
Quoting Quranic verses and sayings from the Prophet Mohamed prohibiting fighting amongst Muslims, Morsi went on to criticise those who allowed the situation to continue "while blood is spilled during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan." Iran, whose President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad attended the conference, has controversially stood by Al-Assad's government as Syria's long-term ally during the escalating violence.
In addition, the newly-elected president spoke about the Palestinian cause, describing it as the number one issue for Egypt and all Arab and Islamic states worldwide. He called upon Palestinians to unite in order to achieve national reconciliation.
Egypt's Islamist head of state also mentioned the marginalised Muslim community in Myanmar, calling for a solution to the humanitarian crisis. Morsi spoke about Muslim minorities around the globe and welcomed an initiative spearheaded by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia to found an Islamic dialogue center in Riyadh.
Morsi closed his speech by adding that Egypt's January 25 Revolution demanded justice, equality and human dignity, values that are consistent with the tolerant principles of Islam.
The OIC, which is the second largest inter-governmental organisation after the United Nations, is comprised of 57 member states, hailing from all over the Muslim world.
Following the summit, President Morsi and his family, headed to Medina city to visit the Prophet Mohamed's Mosque as part of his Umrah (lesser) pilgrimage to Saudi's holy sites.