Saudi FM: Conference to discuss Muslim crises

Confronting crises plaguing the Islamic community, including the war in Iraq, and trying to restore confidence among the world's Muslims will be key topics discussed at next week's Organization of the Islamic Conference, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said Sunday. Prince Saud said the Islamic community is "constantly on the defensive" and frustrated by a range of crises, including increasing oppression, poverty, epidemics and "deviant" thoughts, a term that the Saudi government normally uses to describe the extremist Islamic ideology followed by armed groups such as al-Qaida. "The critical circumstances the Islamic community is going through are a result of the crises it is living in," Prince Saud told reporters at the Red Sea resort of Jiddah. His remarks were carried by the official Saudi Press Agency. Prince Saud did not elaborate but was apparently referring to the increase in Islamic violence and ongoing conflicts in the Palestinian Territories, Iraq and Afghanistan. The summit, expected to attract leaders from among the group's 56 member states, begins Wednesday in the holy city of Mecca and continues Thursday in Jiddah.