The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) provided an overview of its constant efforts and action in the field of monuments protection and heritage preservation in the Islamic world, during a workshop organized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and attended by representatives of Member States and international organizations at expert level to examine ways to protect heritage in the Islamic world. ISESCO was represented in the event by Dr. Najib Rhiati, Director of Culture.
On this occasion, ISESCO stated that it had already set up an observatory and a fund at its General Directorate to finance cultural projects, within the framework of the Islamic World Heritage Committee (IWHC), to give effect to the resolutions of the Tenth Islamic Conference of Culture Ministers (ICEM), held in Khartoum, on 21 October 2017, namely those relevant to the creation of “ISESCO Fund for Supporting Cultural Projects” to support the projects of protecting, preserving, publicizing and saving the existing Islamic heritage to be managed by ISESCO which shall accept support requests from Member States.
The resolutions of the conference also provided for the establishment of the “Heritage Observatory” at the IWHC in order to monitor the situation of the monuments of Al-Quds Al-Sharif and submit reports thereon to the competent authorities; follow up the situation of Islamic heritage in war-prone areas; collect information and news on the smuggling and illegal trafficking of Islamic cultural heritage, the destruction of this heritage by extremist groups, and unauthorized search and excavation; and collect information and news on the smear and misconceptions about Islamic heritage propagated in the media, books and the internet.
As a specialized technical organization in the field of monument protection and heritage preservation, ISESCO launched the “Electronic Portal for the Archaeological and Historic Landmarks in the Islamic World” which will serve as a depository of the archaeological and historic landmarks of civilizational and human significance that abound in Member States. Moreover, ISESCO will set up digital and interactive “bibliographic” database of the various elements of the architectural and urban heritage in the Islamic world. To this end, the Organization contacted Member States’ competent parties on the matter.
For the record, Paragraph 84 of the final communiqué of 14th Islamic Summit Conference, held in Makkah Al-Mukarramah on 31 May 2019, strongly condemned the crimes committed against cultural heritage, both tangible and intangible, in Syria, Iraq, Mali, Libya and other Member States. It also invited OIC specialized bodies, most notably ISESCO, in coordination with Member States, to strengthen cooperation with competent institutions to monitor the situation of cultural, civilizational and religious heritage across the Muslim world, and take part in countering acts of damage to and looting of heritage.