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Hit by global economic crunch, Muslims seek economic unity

Tuesday, November 10, 2009 02:21:36 PM, Agencies

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Istanbul: As the economic crunch continues to hit the world, Muslim leaders held a meeting Monday November 9 to discuss ways of bolstering inter-Muslim economic cooperation.


"Since the adoption of a series of trade facilitating and trade financing measures, the increase in volume of trade among OIC countries has become significant,” Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, told the meeting, Xinhua news agency reported.


“We have now reached 16.60 percent going by the latest statistics."


Leaders of the 57-member OIC met in Istanbul to discuss ways of boosting inter-Muslim economic cooperation following the global economic crisis.


Issues on the agenda of the one-day meeting include the global financial crisis and combat against poverty.


Turkish President Abdullah Gul said the OIC has taken the lead in launching many projects to realize the potential of the member countries.


"Establishment of the trade preferential system, trade financing, promotion of cooperation among private sector institutions and capacity building activities are some of these projects," he said.


Muslim countries were hard-hit by the economic crisis, that hit the United States and the world last September.


The economic growth in the 57-member OIC is expected to drop to 1.2 percent against the impressive 6.1-percent growth before the crisis.


"The Muslim world has the necessary resources for economic development,” Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the meeting.


“Our joint efforts should focus on growth in Muslim countries, which needs us to form a partnership among us."


Karzai said the share of Muslim countries in the global economy was very low.


"Eight out of every 10 underdeveloped nations belong to the Muslim world," he said.


Addressing the meeting, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blamed capitalism for the global economic meltdown.


"The present economic crisis is due to the capitalist system,” he said.


“The world needs radical change," he said, describing interest rates as the biggest and most fundamental problem of the capitalist system.


"The world system based on usury has collapsed, proving its failure.


Calls have been growing for reforming the capitalist economic system following the economic crisis.


"We have to draw up programs based on Islamic economic thinkers. That way we can guide people to happiness, security, justice and honesty," said Ahmadinejad.


He said promotion of mutual and multilateral cooperation could be a way-out of the current economic crisis.


"The economic and cultural common grounds in the Islamic countries have lessened their problems in dealing with global economic meltdown and continuation of such trend would deepen ties and cooperation among them."


A new study by the Banker magazine found that the Islamic banks have weathered the economic crisis, thanks to its ethical low-risk approach.


Islam forbids Muslims from usury, receiving or paying interest on loans.


Transactions by Islamic banks must be backed by real assets -- not shady repackaged subprime mortgages.


Shariah-compliant financing deals resemble lease-to-own arrangements, layaway plans, joint purchase and sale agreements, or partnerships.


Investors have a right to know how their funds are being used, and the sector is overseen by dedicated supervisory boards as well as the usual national regulatory authorities.








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