OIC Secretary General Visits Washington
By C. Naseer Ahmad

We should not forget the past, but we must focus on the future,” were the words of wisdom of an Algerian diplomat expressed quietly during an elegant reception held by Egyptian Ambassador Mohamed Tawfik at his beautiful residence on Massachusetts Avenue in Washington.

And, it was surely a focus on the future that was on the minds of many ambassadors gathered to honor His Excellency Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. President Barack Obama’s Ambassador to OIC, Rashad Hussain, was also in attendance.

In introducing Dr Ihsanoglu to this distinguished gathering, Ambassador Tawfik talked about his birth to a Turkish family in Cairo, his education at Egypt’s prestigious center of learning and his long distinguished educational and diplomatic career. As Ambassador Tawfik spoke, it occurred to some that the Turkish Ambassador’s residence was across the street – perhaps just as the Turkish Embassy in Cairo was not far from the statue of Egyptian political icon Saad Zaghloul.

When he took the podium, Dr Ihsanoglu spoke about and expressed support for the United Nations Human Rights Council Resolution (UNHRC) 16/18 on “Combating Intolerance, Negative Stereotyping and Stigmatization of, and Discrimination, Incitement to Violence and Violence Against, Persons Based on Religion or Belief.” During his remarks, Dr Ihsanoglu also shared his recollections about President Barack Obama’s famous Cairo speech.

Earlier in the day on June 3, 2013, Dr Ihsanoglu was the guest of honor at an interfaith lunch at the National Press Club (NPC), where he was welcomed by NPC Vice-President Myron Belkind – who is also Chairman, International Correspondents Committee. Dr Ihsanoglu also spoke at the US Institute of Peace. He also visited leaders at the Capitol Hill as well as the US Holocaust Museum.

Dr Ihsanoglu is known for his promotion of cultural diplomacy and advocacy of dialogue. He talked about his role in promoting intercultural and interfaith dialogue around the world in general and between the European and the Muslim worlds - particularly in the age of globalization bringing about encounters of cultures. With his gentle and urbane demeanor, Dr Ihsanoglu will leave some big shoes to fill when the OIC leadership baton is passed on to a successor at the end of this year.

 

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