GCC, Central Asian states condemn Islamophobia, announce further summits

GCC, Central Asian states condemn Islamophobia, announce further summits
The statement ended with an announcement that a following summit would be held in Uzbekistan in 2025.
2 min read
20 July, 2023
The summit was the first between the GCC and the five Central Asian states [Getty]

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Central Asian states issued a joint statement Wednesday following the 18th GCC consultative meeting held in the Saudi city of Jeddah, expressing concern over "the growing rhetoric of racism and Islamophobia" against Muslim minorities.

The 20-point statement also reaffirmed collective support for last month's adoption by the UN Security Council of  Resolution 2686, which condemns religious hatred and extremism.

The GCC-Central Asia statement praised Kazakhstan for its role in hosting the Conference of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, which it has done so since 2003. Likewise, Bahrain was also noted for hosting the Bahrain Dialogue forum "East and West for Human Coexistence" in 2022.

The stance against Islamophobia comes weeks after an Iraqi man sparked international outrage last month by burning a copy of the Quran outside the main mosque in Stockholm, Sweden's capital. The act prompted condemnation from governments of Muslim-majority countries and protest from Muslims worldwide.

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This week's summit between the two regions was the first of its kind involving the presidents of all five Central Asian states, as well as high ranking representatives and leaders of the GCC.

It was used to implement further diplomatic initiatives aimed at strengthening economic cooperation between the two regions.

This includes the announcements of further summits to be held by the two regions, such as a new GCC-Central Asia investment forum to be held in Saudi Arabia at the end of 2023, with a following event to be held in Kyrgyzstan in 2024.

A direct successor to this years’ GCC-Central Asia summit was also announced to be held in city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan in 2025.

The statement also reaffirmed the agreed joint action plan for 2023-2027 that aims at enhanced engagement in political, security, economic and cultural engagement, and a sharing of expertise to help diversify both region’s economies.

Tourism was also noted, with President Tokayev announcing the establishment of a visa-free entry system for all GCC countries in a bid to improve tourism, and promote cultural, education, and sporting tourism.

The summit came as both regions look to diversify their diplomatic and economic ties away from traditionally close powers, such as the US for the Gulf and Russia for Central Asia.