Strife-torn Syria has been suspended from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) over the "brutal suppression" of a popular uprising by the regime of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.
The decision to suspend Syria's membership from the 57-member Pan-Islamic body was taken at a two-day summit of Muslim leaders which concluded in Islam's holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia early on Thursday.
"The conference decides to suspend the Syrian Arab Republic membership in the OIC and all its subsidiary organs, specialized and affiliated institutions," said a summit statement.
OIC Foreign Ministers who met in the Saudi Red Sea port city of Jeddah on Monday ahead of the summit and on the second day of the conference had approved the move despite stiff opposition from Syria's close ally Iran.
Talking to reporters after the summit, OIC Secretary-General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu described the decision to suspend Syrian membership as "a message to the international community ... that the Islamic community stands with a politically peaceful solution and does not want any more bloodshed."
The summit called by Saudi King Abdullah has been viewed by analysts as a diplomatic showdown between Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, custodian of Islam's two holiest places of worship, and Shia-ruled Iran for hegemony over the Islamic world.
The King also suggested opening of a center in Saudi capital Riyadh for dialog among warring Islamic sects to come to common terms. The proposal, approved by the summit, is seen as a move aimed at defusing some of the region's sectarian tensions.
The summit also decided to take the issue of Myanmar's Rohingya Muslims, displaced by deadly sectarian violence, to the United Nations. It condemned "the continued recourse to violence by the Myanmar authorities against the members of this minority and their refusal to recognize their right to citizenship. The summit decided to bring this matter before the United Nations General Assembly, it said in a statement.
The OIC said earlier that the Myanmar government had allowed it to render all possible assistance to the displaced Rohingya Muslims. Myanmar agreed to the aid proposal following talks an OIC delegation had with President Thein Sein in capital Yangon on Friday on the "deplorable humanitarian situation in Rakhine state."
The delegation told Thein Sein that Islamic humanitarian organizations were willing to provide aid to all residents of the strife-torn Rakhine state. King Abdullah on Saturday had announced a grant $50 million to the Rohingya Muslims, describing them as victims of "several rights violations, including ethnic cleansing, murder, rape and forced displacement."
Violence in Rakhine state between Buddhists and Rohingyas had left several dead, with official figures indicating that 80 people from both sides had been killed in initial fighting in June. The entire state has been under emergency rule since early June with heavy army and police presence.
by RTT Staff Writer
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