A delegation from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) recently visited Cambodia to participate in an international conference organized by theunder the slogan “Islamic Education and Economic Development in Cambodia” in the capital Phnom Penh
Located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia, Cambodia has a population of over 14.8 million with a Muslim population of more than 700,000, mostly from the Cham ethnic minority group.
The Cham Muslims suffered serious purges, with half of their population exterminated, during the reign of the notorious Khmer Rouge in the mid 70s.
The country’s current constitution guarantees freedom of religion and worship. There are around 200 mosques in different parts of Cambodia and nearly 100 charitable societies and organizations.
Yet Cambodia is not so actively engaged with the Muslim world and there are a few Islamic countries that have resident ambassadors in Phnom Penh including Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Kuwait, Pakistan and Turkey.
“It was the first a high-ranking official visit by the OIC to Cambodia and the delegation was impressed by the government’s plans to properly treat the Muslim minority and expressed this during its meetings with the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr. Svega Sun An, and other Cambodian officials,” said Talal Daous, adviser to the OIC secretary-general.
The OIC delegation, which included Ali Abolhassani, director of the Political Affairs Department, as well as the executive director of the Islamic Solidarity Fund, Ibrahim Al-Khuzayem, and Kunrat Wirasubrata, the manager of the Islamic Development Bank Regional Office in Malaysia, took part in the conference.
“The objective of the conference was to highlight the importance of the various stages and types of education to the Muslim community in Cambodia and to get to know the constraints and difficulties facing the educational process,” Daous said. The conference was also aimed at discussing ways to provide resources that enable achieving economic development and to discuss mechanisms that achieve this development.
A number of professors and specialists in education and economics from inside and outside Cambodia participated in the conference. Their lectures highlighted the aspects that help achieve economic and educational development for the Muslim community in Cambodia.
“The conference recommended the establishment of specialized committees in the fields of education, Halal food, zakat and Islamic ‘waqf’,” the OIC official said. It also called for setting up a unified base for the religious education curricula for the Islamic schools in Cambodia, he added. It also advised Muslim population to send their children to public schools to help them get modern education. It stressed the need for systematic plans for economic development of the poor Muslim society in the country.
In addition to its meetings with officials, the OIC delegation visited the primary Simia Private International School, the site of the Islamic University project, about 300 km away from the capital.
Originally published on www.zawya.com