The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) declared 2019 as the year of heritage in the Islamic world, as per a decision of the tenth Islamic conference of cultural ministers. I believe this is a good resolution and it’s about time to consider the need to preserve heritage. There is no doubt that the Islamic world has an ancient culture that needs mutual efforts to ensure that terrorist and extremist groups will not lay a hand on our history without punishment and condemnation. This common approval by the gathering means that we will not allow anyone under any pretext to destroy our history.
ISESCO called on all its members to take the necessary measures to commemorate this important event. In a press statement, the organization prized the history of the Islamic world and its rich and diverse cultural heritage due to its interaction with many human cultures and through the creative works of intellectuals, scientists, writers, poets, artists, architects and traditional craftsmen.
I think a significant remark in the report clearly pointed out that we must support the heritage committee in the Islamic world to help its efforts to preserve cultural heritage while paying more attention to cultural and heritage plans and programs in order to ensure its diversity and the richness of its aesthetic and civilizational characteristics.
The official statement condemned the sabotage of historical and heritage landmarks in a number of Islamic countries due to terrorism, conflicts, civil wars and extremism. It also called for resolving this situation by following the guidelines of the Manama Process to activate Islamic cultural work to confront extremism, sectarianism and terrorism that was issued by the Islamic conference of ministers of culture in November.
ISESCO urged its members to organize cultural weeks starting with Jerusalem to celebrate Jerusalem as the Capital of Islamic Culture for 2019 in the Arab region. I don’t know how this will be implemented, but I think with mutual cooperation with other UN agencies, this can be possible and successful – but only if no one uses such events for purely political reasons.
I believe such calls, or any other effort related to culture, heritage and history, should not aim to make political gains for any group. Heritage is the legacy that nations leave behind for generations. It’s about time that the Arab world agrees that its long silence allowed many hands to ruin our heritage and this will no longer be allowed – even with a small step in 2019.
By Muna Al-Fuzai