At the sidelines of his participation in the High Level Segment of the 13th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) held in Geneva, The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu met with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, Micheline Anne-Marie Calmy-Rey, on Tuesday, 02 March 2010, according to OİC official website.
Ihsanoglu conveyed the OIC's deep concern and disappointment over the Swiss ban on Minarets adding that it came as a surprise in the wake of assurances to the contrary given by the Swiss side during the three rounds of OIC-Swiss consultations. He emphasized that the ban represented an institutionalization and constitutionalisation of the issue of Islamophobia with ominous implications in terms of a potential domino effect in wider Europe.
For her part, Calmy-Rey agreed that the result of the referendum has defied the polls and came as a surprise to the Swiss Government that had clearly indicated its opposition to banning the minarets in the process. She also briefed the Secretary General on the steps taken by her Government since the ban to establish a regular contact with the Muslim Groups in Switzerland with a view to including them and their concerns in the mainstream Swiss politics.
Ihsanoglu conveyed to the Swiss Foreign Minister the Muslim world's expectations of concrete steps on the part of the Swiss government in consonance with its obligations towards ensuring protection of the fundamental rights of the Muslim community in Switzerland. Ihsanoglu and Calmy-Rey agreed that the engagement would be extended in terms of a two pronged approach aimed at projecting the true image of Islam and Muslims geared towards removing misperceptions and to seek a better and accurate coverage of Islam and the Muslim community.
In a separate meeting, the Secretary General met with the Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, Dr. Dipu Moni. They discussed issues related to the agenda of the Human Rights Council as well as Bangladesh's role in climate change, issues related to the situation of Rohingya refugees, implementation of the OIC Ten Year Program of Action, Swiss ban on minarets, and signing of economic cooperation agreements by Bangladesh. The Secretary General briefed the Minister on the recent visit of the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the OIC headquarters and his meeting with her in Jeddah.
It is worth noting that the OIC Secretary General discussed separately issues of bilateral, regional and global importance with the Senegalese Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Head of the Saudi Commission on Human Rights.
Ihsanoglu also had a special meeting with the OIC Ambassadorial Group in Geneva in which he briefed them on the integrated approach being followed at the OIC to accord priority to human rights issues with a special reference to the establishment of an Independent Permanent Commission on Human Rights. Furthermore, he stressed the importance of maintaining the Group's unity with regard to the voting on important resolutions.
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