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OIC Opens Summit In Malaysia - 2003-10-16


Leaders from the 57 nations of the Islamic Conference Organization (OIC) have opened a two-day summit in Malaysia with a somber self-critique of the status of Muslims.

The OIC's out-going chairman from Qatar (Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani)told delegates at the Islamic summit that leaders must acquaint the world with the true Islam - which advocates justice, tolerance and equality - and not let terrorism by a few taint world perceptions.

The organization's new chairman, Malaysia's Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, says Islam dominated the world 13,00 years ago but has fallen behind because of a too literal interpretation of its traditions.

"Islam is not just for the 7th century AD. Islam is for all times. And times have changed. Whether we like it or not, we have to change," he said.

He called for new thinking on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Conference speakers stressed that strength lies in unity among the world's 1.3 billion Muslims.

The leaders are examining a draft resolution that condemns Israel's latest military actions and reportedly calls for a greater U.N. role in rebuilding post-war Iraq.

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