The Global Ummah as a Communicative Strategy: Power and Identity in the Organization of the Islamic Conference


The Organization of Islamic Cooperation’s status as an international organization articulating the collective interests of Muslims was copper fastened by its role in the Danish Cartoon controversy of 2005-2006. Since then the OIC has become a prominent actor in the international arena, especially with regard to matters relating to Muslims in minority communities. The analysis considers the discursive construction of the ‘ummah’ throughout the period following the establishment of the OIC in 1969. This analysis is considered in conjunction with two other communicative strategies. The first relates to an analysis of voting patterns by OIC member states with respect to the ‘Defamation of Religions’. The second relates to the construction of a coherent ‘ummah’ through the establishment of an Islamophobia ‘observatory’. The construction of the ‘ummah’, of a transnational Muslim identity community representable through an interstate organization, displaces an earlier statist organizational orientation. Consistent bloc voting was apparent in two UN fora with respect to the ‘defamations’ of religion, specifically Islam. The Muslim ‘ummah’, as articulated through the apparatus of the OIC, is a fragile construction contingent on a tripartite strategy of de-emphasizing national identities, a sustained critique of the Occident as an organizing principle, and collective action at the interstate level around a perceived defence of shared symbols. However, individual OIC member states do not embody this standards regarding minority religious and ethical groupings at national level. The OIC has perpetuated an outwardly directed normative orientation to the exclusion of a self-critical consideration of member state practices.

Author Information
Kenneth Houston, Webster University Thailand, Thailand

Paper Information
Conference: ACSS2015
Stream: Ethnicity

This paper is part of the ACSS2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon