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Potential exists for stronger ties between Region, Islamic countries – Pres Ali

– as int’l symposium on legacy of Islam in Caribbean launched in Guyana

A symposium aimed at exploring the long, historic and cultural legacy of Islam in the Caribbean is being hosted by Guyana, with President Dr Irfaan Ali pointing out that opportunities exist for Guyana and the Region as a whole, to boost its ties with Islamic countries.
On Monday, the international symposium was launched by the Government, in collaboration with the Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA) and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
The symposium, aimed at exploring the history and legacy of Muslims in the Caribbean, is being held at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC) from September 4 to 6 and will delve into various topics, including the arrival of Muslims to the Caribbean.

A section of those who attended the symposium launch

President Ali was the featured speaker at the launch and he said the symposium will help bring greater awareness to Islam in multi-ethnic Guyana. Noting that Guyana is a case study on religious tolerance and integration, President Ali also pointed to the potential for forging stronger bonds between the Region and Islamic countries.
“We live in an increasingly interconnected world. Muslims too are connecting with their fellow brothers and sisters in other parts of the world. Islamic countries are establishing partnerships with non-Islamic states. The history of Islam in the Caribbean is not isolated. It is part of a larger global narrative. We in the South need to understand our brothers in the North, East, and West and vice versa.”
“Understanding our respective histories can be the means through which we can further improve relations between Islamic and non-Islamic countries. In a more interconnected world, fostering mutual understanding is paramount for enhancing relations. This symposium holds the promise of cultivating more understanding, ultimately forging stronger bonds between the Caribbean and Muslim worlds,” the President said.
According to President Ali, the project is a vital one for demonstrating that Muslims are not a homogenous grouping but rather, vary widely across different regions in the world. He further noted that these variations were shaped by historical and other factors.
Meanwhile, the Director General of the Turkey-based IRCICA, Dr Dr Mahmud Erol Kılıç also made a presentation in which he described the symposium as a historic one that would help foster greater cultural and historical knowledge.
“It builds a bridge between cultural audiences in the Caribbean and those in the other states. The cultural heritage of Muslims in the Caribbean, which was transferred from ancestral artistic architecture and literary origins and preserved till today, represents a historical connection between Muslims in the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. It also reflects some of the geographic path in the history of the dissemination of Islam across the world,” Kılıç said.
Other officials attending the event were Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, and other Cabinet members, as well as IRCICA’s Special Envoy, Dr Abdullah Hakim Quick, and students, among others.
The symposium is expected to delve into various topics, including the arrival of Muslims to the Caribbean, their religious practices and institutions, the impact of their presence on the regional society, and their contributions to the development of the Caribbean nations.
The symposium will also feature a multidisciplinary programme consisting of keynote speeches, panel discussions, and paper presentations, encouraging participants to engage in thoughtful discourse and exchange of ideas.
Guyana has been increasing its bilateral and economic ties with Islamic countries. Earlier this year, Guyana inaugurated its embassy in Qatar, in a move that President Ali had said would help both countries embark on a journey of enhanced bilateral relations.
In February this year, it was also announced that Guyana would be receiving help with the oil and gas sector from Qatar. Specifically, Qatar would be helping Guyana create a gas utilisation and monetisation plan, which will be applicable when the gas-to-energy project is commissioned.
And in October of last year, after several months of waiting, a US$120 million loan that the Government had sought for resurfacing the Soesdyke-Linden Highway, was approved by the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).
Prior to that approval, a team from the IsDB had visited Guyana on an appraisal mission for the loan request. The IsDB team was led by Atiq Ahmad, Lead Global Transport Specialist – Economic and Social Infrastructure Department, General Directorate for Global Practices & Partnerships of the IsDB. (G-3)