Terrorism, I must say, is an unfortunate word choice for the dilemma the Organization of Islamic States is seeking to address. However, I would ask that folks take a deep breath and move beyond the initial “what the heck?” this statement induces from even me and think as calmly as possible about the real issue the OIC is seeking to address.

We in “the west” worry very much about what the Islamic world thinks of us as a society, why shouldn’t the Islamic world in much the same way worry about how we perceive them?  Is terrorism the right word to describe what would be better termed anti-Muslim sentiment? NO.

But consider the general idea behind this discussion and be happy that some institutions within the Islamic and Arab world are looking to the tools of discussion and rhetorical persuasion to solve problems in their own backyard and are denouncing violence.

A bit of research into the pronouncement of the OIC conference also reveals this:

[OIC Secretary General Professor Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu] also emphasized the OIC’s reconciliatory initiatives to bring together political officials and religious leaders of Iraq to agree on the Makkah Document. [Also known as the Mecca Document: an agreement which aims to end sectarian violence in Iraq and calls on all adherents of deviant Islamic ideas to reject their current path and embrace the true Islam.] On the issue of Palestine, he stated that the OIC has been an active party in bringing about reconciliation among sparring Palestinian factions through multiple visits to Palestine and numerous contacts with the Palestinian leaders… Furthermore, he outlined the initiatives of the OIC to find a way out of the issues of Somalia, Afghanistan, Kashmir, southern Philippines, southern Thailand and Cyprus.

This post is not to endorse all actions of the OIC, because the reform many of these leaders speak of in the Arab world and the Organization of Islamic States is still in many cases tied to the use of Sharia (Islamic law) in civil instances such as marriage, divorce and inheritance. Especially for women this kind of “reform” may not be that much of a step forward.

But neither Rome nor Mecca was built in a day. Progress has to start somewhere and dialogue, while in some ways stilted, is still dialogue. It’s a start.

Funny thing is as I read this follow-up article on the killing of Du’a Khalil Aswad later in the day; I realized that it is at times a very small start.