WITH the Organisation of the Islamic Conference already there, the call for a ‘Muslim United Nations’ makes no sense. On Wednesday, a resolution passed by a gathering of religious parties in Islamabad asked the rulers of the Islamic world to set up a Muslim UN and establish a unified economic and defence system. The meeting was called by Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed, whose activities remain on the government’s watch list. Invitations were extended to virtually all political parties, most of which apparently thought it better to distance themselves from the controversial outfit and thus did not participate. On the other hand, the meeting brought together some of the country’s leading religious figures — including those who, unlike the JuD leader, do believe in electoral politics — to draw up a strategy for a unified Muslim response to an anti-Islam film that has caused fury in many Muslim countries.
Given the objectionable contents of the film, few would dispute the aim of the meeting. Yet, a unified Muslim response demands more than emotion-charged public rallies that degenerate into violence. It requires realism, wisdom and a strategy that does not turn out to be counterproductive. We know, for instance, that the OIC is a lame-duck organisation and little better than a debating forum. Its record even in economic and cultural cooperation among member states is disappointing. To speak of a unified defence and economic command is, thus, to invite ridicule. If the Islamic world is to meet the challenges it faces, Muslim leaders must first think of organising their societies on democratic and scientific lines. Empty rhetoric and emotionalism have done more harm than good to causes espoused by Muslims. Meanwhile, it is a matter of regret that Wednesday’s meeting failed to condemn last Friday’s hooliganism on what was meant to be a solemn day.