Middle Eastern media sources have been particularly vocal in covering the recent meeting of the Group of Strategic Vision “Russia-Islamic World” that was held in Moscow. Since the moment of its creation back in 2006, it has been consistently searching for different forms of interaction with the region that more that half a billion people can call a home. The Islamic world holds two thirds of global hydrocarbon reserves, and even if it is behind the West from the scientific and technical point of view, it’s catching up fast, as it was displayed by the recently ended talks on Iran’s nuclear program. This world represents a community of various ethnic groups with different cultural and historical roots and traditions.
In recent years, the Middle East has been facing numerous turbulent events. The few violent extremists that have been particularly active in their terrorist activities have tried to expropriate the Islamic faith of its own purpose. These realities were in the focus of discussion of prominent politicians and public figures that arrived from nearly 30 Islamic countries to Moscow.
Their discussion revealed a common concern about the new hotbeds of tension in the world, that have been brought to existence by ISIL. Many influential figures, like Syria’s Grand Mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, First Deputy Chairman of the Parliament of Iraq Humam Hamoudi and others condemned the attempts this group make to inflame inter-communal strife.
According to Habib Al Riyami, the Head of the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center in Oman, the first and utmost goal for all Muslims is to focus on what unites them rather than points that tear apart. Negative developments that have been plaguing the Islamic world lately are not religious in their nature, those are social challenges governments have to address.
All delegates supported the idea of adding the potential of Islamic countries and societies with Russia’s, since it remains a multi-religious and multi-national power, to confront present day challenges. Member of the Shura Council of Saudi Arabia, Nasser Al-Daud said that the connections between the Islamic world and Russia are still strong, since they have seen more than a thousand years of history. Participants of the meeting adopted a communiqué that is urging different countries and influential forces to unite against the threats of terrorism, and, in order to pursue this goal , promote a diverse cooperation between Russia and the countries of Islam.
They welcomed the initiative to create a site “Russia – Islamic World”, first in Russian and then in English. It aims to let representatives of different cultures enrich their knowledge and understanding of each other, as opposed to biased information often presented by Western media. Additionally, all the parties involved agreed to adopt a program of promotion of cooperation along humanitarian and scientific lines, along with the convening of a symposium of Muslim scholars from Russia and the Islamic world in Moscow.
The Group of Strategic Vision forum has confirmed its image as the center of discussions and exchange of views and contribution to the treasury of cultural experience and communication. It’s yet another sign that Western attempts to isolate Russia in the East have ultimately failed.
The representatives of the Islamic region welcomed the attempts of non-governmental structures to find a new momentum in the promotion of relations after a certain pause brought around by the “Arab Spring.” Since the establishment of the Group, a total of six different countries became home to its meeting. Now they are going to be held annually, and several Muslim capitals have already expressed their willingness to host the next meeting.
Yuri Zinin, Senior Research Fellow at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO), exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.