Islamic Group Backs Tehran, Slams Foreign ‘Interference’

By Patrick Goodenough | July 1, 2009 | 4:42 AM EDT

The OIC's parliamentary union executive committee has rallied around Iran after its disputed presidential election. In this file picture, OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu meets with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki (Photo: OIC)

( – Less than a month after President Obama -- in a speech to the world’s Muslims -- urged governments to maintain power “through consent, not coercion,” a body representing parliaments in Islamic nations has congratulated Iran for its recent presidential election while condemning foreign countries for “interference.”
The support for Tehran over its disputed June 12 election came from the executive committee of the Parliamentary Union of OIC member states, meeting in Algiers. The OIC is the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a 57-member bloc of Muslim-majority nations.
“The Organization of Islamic Conference welcomes the results of the recent election in Iran and condemns the interference of foreigners in the country’s internal affairs,” the committee said in a final statement after its two-day meeting, broadcast by Algerian state TV and reported by Iranian media.
The committee also expressed support for Iran’s right to nuclear technology, saying Tehran was being put under pressure for “peaceful” uranium enrichment activities while Israel’s nuclear arsenal was being ignored.
Other issues discussed by the committee and cited in the statement included a call for Israel to be prosecuted for “crimes” against Palestinians, and condemnation of the International Criminal Court’s attempt to indict Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir  for war crimes in Darfur.
Division among Islamic countries should be avoided, it said.
Despite longstanding rivalry between Shi’ite Iran and some Sunni Arab states, led by Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the response from most Arab governments to the post-election turmoil in Iran has been low-key, although coverage in Saudi-linked media has been critical of the regime.
Analysts have attributed the reticence to speak out against the Islamic Republic to a reluctance – in a region where democracy is largely absent – to support street demonstrations against a sitting government.
Both Egypt and Saudi Arabia are represented in the OIC parliamentary union’s executive committee which came out this week in support of Tehran, as is Iran itself. The remainder of the nine-member committee are representatives of legislatures in Turkey, Algeria, Niger, Azerbaijan, Benin and Chad.
The speaker of the Iranian parliament, Ali Larijani, took part in the Algiers meeting, telling the body that if Washington abandoned its “interfering” policies “this change will be beneficial both to the region and to the U.S. itself.”
In what may have been a reference to Obama’s June 4 speech in Cairo,  Larijani said international powers were offering “beautiful remarks” that bear no fruit, adding, “apparently, we are living in the era of words.”
“The gesture of change will give hope to Muslims should it actively recognize the rights of the Palestinian people,” he said. “Otherwise, it should not be expected that Muslims will be deceived by words.”

Backed by a portrait of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks during a visit to Assalouyeh on the Persian Gulf on Thursday, June, 25, 2009. (AP Photo/ISNA)

In his Cairo address, Obama said that no system of government could or should be imposed by one country upon another.
“That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people,” he said.
“America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things:  the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose.
“These are not just American ideas; they are human rights,” Obama said. “And that is why we will support them everywhere.”

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose contested re-election was confirmed Monday by Iran’s state organs, was to have had the opportunity to gather more international support on Wednesday, when he had been scheduled to attend an African Union summit hosted by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. It was reported from Tehran early Wednesday, however, that the trip had been canceled.
Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow