Extract from speech by Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey given on 13 April 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Regardless of their differing political opinions, nationalities, religious beliefs or cultures, the achievement of justice and peace is a common desire amongst all people. Human history is also considered a history of the search for justice and peace.

Derived from the Arab word “peace”, Islam has from the very beginning ordered us to uphold justice in all aspects of political, business, social and economic life, and urges us to be just with all people, beginning with the family, which is regarded as the nucleus of society.

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Throughout Islamic history, for almost 15 centuries, the most prominent feature of the Muslim countries established in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East has been to give significance to the upholding of justice and peace.

Despite this, we see today that the Islamic lands which should be symbols of these two pillars of life have become worlds severely lacking in both, including Syria, Iraq, central Africa, Libya, Palestine and Yemen. Millions of our brothers and sisters are fighting to survive and are desperate for peace, safety and human dignity.

Meanwhile, the ancient cities known for their works of Islamic civilisation, libraries, mosques, shrines and historical artefacts are being destroyed and turned into ruins before our eyes at the hands of terrorist organisations and brutal regimes.

Nowadays, the Islamic world is being crushed under the pressure of the most dangerous problems it has faced since World War One. Too many Muslim countries are being deprived of peace and safety due to armed confrontations, civil wars, collapsing societies and deteriorating political structures.

The problems not only pose a threat to regional stability, but also to world peace. As is the case in Syria, the intervention of foreign states that do not have even the slightest knowledge of, or empathy with, the society, cultures, values and history of the region, sees them use their military might and support illegitimate governments in order to serve their own interests.

In addition, sectarian incitement has led to the largest division in the ranks of Muslims. Europe addressed and resolved this issue early on, in the seventh century, while the Muslim world is still prisoner to this in the 21st century. This is an issue to which we must give the utmost attention.

This dispute, which stems from political, not religious, reasons, was provoked in the name of political greed and short-term interests. In the meantime, the terrorist organisations and forces known for their hostility towards Islam benefit the most from these policies, which incite hatred and hostility between ethnic and religious groups, as well as people from various factions who have co-existed relatively peacefully for many centuries.

We Muslims must raise our voices against all forms of oppression, regardless of who is committing these acts and their source. We must stand by the victims, whoever they are, as the identity of oppressors and victims is not important. Based on this belief, Turkey opened its doors to the refugees who are trying to flee from the armed conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and we will not abandon them or leave them to the mercy of terrorist organisations or regimes which practice state terrorism.

We are gathering in Istanbul on the 13th and 14th of April not as Sunnis and Shias, Africans and Asians, Easterners and Westerners, white or black, rich or poor, or individuals of this or that ethnicity, but rather in our capacity as leaders who shoulder the responsibility for 1.7 billion Muslims and the burden of the entire humanity.

We are gathered as members of a civilisation that believes that humans are the most precious creatures and stipulates that the people must live if we want the state to live.