Recently, Istanbul has hosted very important meetings and I had the honor and pleasure to take part in these organizations as a translator. Now I would like to share my experiences, memories and the nice atmosphere during these days.
Before this, I would like to give you brief information about the international Muslim umbrella organization who organized these events. The Union of Non-Governmental Organizations of the Islamic World (UNIW) was established in 2005 in Istanbul. The UNIW was founded for the purpose of ensuring sustainable development, unity and coordination between non-governmental organizations of the Islamic world and presently has 192 member organizations from 46 countries. The union holds conferences, meetings and activities every year in different parts of the world regarding the protection of human rights, providing humanitarian aid, spreading and maintaining the Islamic values and many other subjects and fields.
As a matter of fact, in many countries, there are umbrella organizations that bring together the NGOs in the country; however, there is no other organization on the face of the world other than the UNIW that aims to gather together the Muslim NGOs in the whole Islamic world and help them develop joint reflexes ensuring the sharing of knowledge, experience and views between the organizations based on the objective of the Union. For this reason, The Union of Non-Governmental Organizations of the Islamic World (UNIW) is the only universal umbrella organization.
CIVIL SOCIETY BANDS TOGETHER FOR PAKISTAN
The Union of Non-Governmental Organizations of the Islamic World (UNIW) has recently held two important meetings, one of which was Pakistan Consultation Meeting. Humanitarian aid organizations being in the first place, civil society representatives from more than 20 countries attended the meeting where the final situation in Pakistan was evaluated regarding the aid activities carried out after the flood disaster and what should be done next.
The meeting was held at Anatolian Lions Businessmen Association (ASKON) on October 9th, Saturday. Following the Qur’an recitation, ASKON President Mustafa Koca took the floor. In his opening speech, he greeted the participants and expressed his pleasure in hosting such an important meeting.
Then, UNIW Secretary General Necmi Sadikoglu made a speech. Sadikoglu expressed his deep sorrow and sympathy for the flood disaster that occurred in Pakistan on late June, which led to more than 2000 deaths and affected 40 million people, and said: “This is not only the exam of Pakistan but also of all Muslims in extending sufficient and proper help to the Pakistani people.”
Pakistan Khubaib Foundation Chairman and UNIW Council Member Lawyer Nadeem Ahmad Khan explained in detail the extent of the flood disaster, the current situation in the region and what sort of aid is needed and showed the tragedy in the region through a slide show. Nadeem Han said that especially food, clean drinking water, cloth and shelter is needed and informed the participants about the aid activities provided by Khubaib Foundation.
In the meeting, which went on in a sincere and sad atmosphere, presidents and representatives of IHH Humanitarian Aid Foundation, Kimse Yok Mu Foundation, Cansuyu Foundation, Verenel Foundation, Yardımeli Foundation, Dosteli Foundation, Çare Foundation for Cooperation&Development and Kardeşlik Sınır Tanımaz Foundation as well as many UNIW Council Members took floor at the meeting and told about their aid activities and shared their sorrows and suggestions for the flood disaster in Pakistan. Besides, Pakistan Consulate Dr. Yusuf Cuneyt and Mayor of Bayrampasha Municipality Huseyin Burge were also present at the meeting and made speeches.
There are problems and disasters in every part of the world and Turkish humanitarian aid organizations have always been doing their best to take help to those places. Yet, what was most unforgettable in this meeting and what differentiates it from other similar ones was that it was the embodiment of the joint effort of the Turkish aid organizations to find ways for the remedy of the deep wound caused by the flood in Pakistan.
As a volunteer who participated in the activities of the UNIW since the day it was founded, I had privilege and pleasure in attending such a historic meeting as an English translator.
UNIW NINTH COUNCIL MEETING
The Union of Non-Governmental Organisations of the Islamic World (UNIW), a unity project for the entire Islamic World, was in Malaysia in May 2010 for its ninth Council Meeting. Lately they held their tenth Council Meeting in Istanbul on October 10, 2010. A wide range of issues were evaluated in the meeting, where council members, presidents and representatives of UNIW member organisations and press members attended.
Following the Qur’an recitation performed at the beginning, UNIW Secretary General Necmi Sadikoglu made the opening speech. In this speech, having given information about the activities carried out between June-September 2010, Sadikoglu thanked the council members and other participants who came from different corners of the world.
In his speech, Sadikoglu first gave information about the 9th Council Meeting held on May 22 and the international conference on “Good Governance in the Islamic World” held the next day on May 23, 2010 in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. After mentioning that the UNIW hosted the General Assembly of the International Union of Muslim Scholars chaired by worldly known scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Sadikoglu gave information about the fourth International UNIW Youth Gathering held in Turkey. The gatherings are aimed at gathering the Muslim youth and lead to the cooperation and common consciousness among them. Besides, Sadikoglu mentioned about the visit of the UNIW delegation paid to the USA in the last summer. The delegation led by the General Coordinator met many NGO leaders, government officials, academicians and authors in New York and Chicago, and attended the ISNA Annual Convention in Chicago. Later, Sadikoglu mentioned about his speech at the meeting in Mecca held by UNIW member “World Muslim League”. Finally, Sadikoglu told that UNIW attended the Qur’an 1400 Platform meeting held on the 1400th anniversary of the revelation of the Holy Qur’an.
After the speech of Secretary General on the last period activities, they moved on the other item of the meeting agenda. In this item, the flood disaster that occurred in Pakistan on late June, which led to more than 2.000 of our brothers to pass away and 40 million people to become homeless, was discussed again. Pakistan Council Member Nadeem Ahmad Khan told about the serious effects of the disaster and all participants stated that as the UNIW they should coordinate the member organizations all over the world and provide relief materials for the region urgently. Furthermore, it was also stated that a strong communication network has to be established. Although it was just yesterday that they held a meeting on this issue, Pakistan flood was discussed longer than any other item of the agenda in the meeting.
Then, another bleeding wound of the Islamic World, Kashmir, was put on the agenda. Executive Director of Kashmir American Council and USA Council Member of UNIW Dr. Ghulam Nabi Fai gave brief information about the latest events in Kashmir. He said that the tragedy has been going on since 1989 and one million Kashmiri people are now on the streets of Kashmir marching for the independence with no violent or armed action at all. He also stated that the USA should take an active role for the independence of Kashmir.
Later, UNIW Council Member and Deputy Secretary General Lawyer Mubarak al-Mutawwa shared his views regarding the attack on the freedom ship that sailed to break the embargo applied on Gaza. He said that their effort for the ongoing legal procedure is continuing. Besides, the President of IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, who led the flotilla and who is one of the founder members of the UNIW, briefly informed about what they were through during the voyage. Afterwards, Palestine Council Member Sulaiman Agbaria gave brief information about the latest situation in Gaza.
The UNIW, which aims at maintenance of unity, welfare and peace in all corners of the Islamic World, put the Chief Mufti crisis in Bulgaria on its agenda in the council meeting. In his speech, Deputy Mufti of Bulgaria Vedat Sabri gave brief information about the Mufti institution in Bulgaria and told the following regarding the problem: “Past Mufti Nedim Gencev filed an appeal to the judiciary claiming that the institution of Chief Mufti is unlawful and his appeal was approved, which led to many problems and negative results. This is a political decision of the judiciary that has affected the unity and solidarity of the Muslims living in Bulgaria.”
The next item of the agenda was the evaluation of monetary issues. Deputy Secretary General and Council Member of Turkey Ali Kurt said that they had no income except for the annual fees collected from members and stressed on the necessity of paying the annual fees. He said especially council members should be more careful about this issue. He also gave the good news to the participants that the union headquarters would be moved to another place. The UNIW, when it moves to its new place near Ayub al-Ansari Mosque, which is one of the most distinguished locations in Istanbul, it will continue to become the shining star of the Islamic World.
The UNIW is getting prepared to hold a giant conference in Indonesia on May 2011 on ‘family’, which is one of the most important Islamic values. The conference is aimed at reviving the family consciousness by discussing the dangers and ways out for family, which has been damaged by the negative factors in our century and which can lead the society to its collapse. One reason for holding this international conference in Indonesia is that the country has the biggest Islamic population and the phenomenon of family is getting lost in Indonesia day by day.
In the council meeting, Chairman of Women, Family and Youth Commission and Council Member of Indonesia Bapa Suripto gave information about the preparations and developments regarding the conference, and then Deputy Chairwoman of the Commission Dr. Rabiye Babalioglu shared some technical details about the conference.
Next item on the meeting agenda was the 5th Youth Gathering. One-week gathering that will be held in Morocco on late January 2011 will bring together conscious and clever Muslim youth from more than 20 countries and having university or higher education in their countries. In these gatherings, held two times a year in different countries, a three days workshop is held on a certain topic. On other days, they have excursions to some historical and touristic places of the country, as well as visits to some personalities, institutions and foundations, and other meetings in various places. This item of the council meeting ended after Moroccan Council Member Abdulfettah Fahdi gave information about the preparations of the gathering.
Eleventh Council Meeting of the UNIW is going to be held in Pakistan. After the meeting that will be held in early January, the UNIW delegation will go to Kashmir in order to observe the situation in Kashmir on site and take humanitarian aid to the local people. In addition, an international conference will be held in Kashmir, through which the Kashmiri conflict will once again be reminded to the world public opinion and solutions will be put forward.
Finally, eight membership applications were evaluated. Seven of the applications were unanimously approved considering the references of UNIW member organizations; however, one application was postponed to be re-evaluated later on due to lack of references.
Thus, this giant international union, which, prior to the meeting, had had 185 members from 45 countries, increased its members to 192, and one of the members is from Canada, which is the 46th country where the UNIW has members.
Tahir Akan, who attended the meeting from Sweden and who is the President of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Sweden, that gathers six hundred thousand Muslims from different ethnic groups in Sweden under the same umbrella, stated that the UNIW is a very important union and they would make their application for membership in a short time.
The UNIW’s tenth Council Meeting, which was held with the participation of representatives from Malaysia, Sudan, Palestine, Kuwait, Turkey, Egypt, USA, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Iran, Macedonia, Pakistan, Indonesia, Sweden, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Bulgaria and Azerbaijan, ended with the sharing of proposals and wishes.