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Last Updated: Monday, 13 October 2003, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Muslim states warned of new dangers
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Islam's place in the world is causing concern
The Islamic world faces "unprecedented" dangers, the biggest gathering of Muslim nations in three years has heard.

"Muslims are filled with feelings of impotence and frustration as some of their countries are occupied, others are under sanctions, a third group threatened and a fourth group accused of sponsoring terrorism," said Abdelouahed Belkeziz, secretary-general of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

"Muslims abroad are considered with suspicion, besieged, deprived of their rights," he told the meeting in Malaysia.

Mr Belkeziz said the 11 September attacks on the United States two years ago had caused the world to forget Islam's message of peace and tolerance and to focus instead on the violence perpetrated by extremists.

He said that as a result, Islam itself was facing false accusations, while joint Islamic action was unable to secure the Muslim world's protection and pride.

Troops plan

The OIC meeting in Malaysia's new administrative capital of Putrajaya, south of Kuala Lumpur, is overshadowed by the continued presence of US-led forces in Iraq, six months after the ousting of Saddam Hussein.

On Saturday, Mr Belkeziz opened the conference with a call to evict foreign forces from Iraq and allow the United Nations to administer Iraqi affairs.

The conference is considering a proposal to send troops to Iraq under the auspices of the OIC.

However, the BBC's Jonathan Kent in Putrajaya says delegates from Iraq's US-appointed Governing Council who are attending the meeting see little hope of receiving help from the Islamic world.

The Iraqi Governing Council's Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, sounded despondent when asked if he had received offers of aid and replied that the signs did not look very good. our correspondent says.

So far, Turkey is the only nation with a large Muslim majority that has responded favourably to US requests for military assistance in Iraq, but that offer has met with resistance from the Governing Council.

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