by Betül Alakent – Daily Sabah
Leaders from 57 Islamic countries, including presidents, ministers and other high-ranking officials, are set to converge in Istanbul for the world’s largest halal organization, which will also be used to address the humanitarian concerns in Palestine and the broader vision of a fairer world.
They will meet for the 9th World Halal Summit and the 10th Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Halal Expo 2023 Fair.
Their purpose: to convey a message of support to Gaza and condemn Israel, which has been under international scrutiny for indiscriminate killings of civilians, including women, children and infants, in the Palestinian enclave since October 7.
Scheduled for Nov. 23-26 at the Istanbul Fair Center, the event, sponsored by Turkuvaz Media and expected to be attended by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will revolve around the central theme of Palestine and feature leaders of Islamic countries calling for lasting peace in the region.
Israel launched a complete siege and unprecedented strikes on Gaza after a surprise cross-border attack by the Palestinian resistance group Hamas, raising fears of a wider Mideast conflict.
Israeli bombing has now killed over 8,500 people in Gaza, mostly children, according to Palestinian officials. Some 1,400 people are said to have been killed in Israel.
And the threat of escalation looms.
Yunus Ete, the chair of the World Halal Summit Council and head of Discover Events, highlighted that the OIC, established on Sept. 25, 1969, aims to safeguard the rights and interests of the Islamic world and strengthen cooperation and solidarity among its member states.
“While we have focused on the Palestinian theme almost every year in our organization, this year, Palestine is undergoing genocide before the eyes of the entire world. Therefore, the main theme of our fair and summit this year will be Palestine,” Ete told the Sabah daily.
Ete said he expects the leaders, along with presidents, ministers, and high-ranking officials from 57 Islamic countries, to issue a joint call for lasting peace in the region and express support for Gaza.
“This event will be the largest international organization ever conducted for Palestine,” he noted.
“We never take a political stance, but we believe the issue of Palestine issue is not political but humanitarian,” said Ete, pointing out that one of the main themes of the World Halal Summit is “A Fairer World.”
Last year’s fair saw the participation of 446 local and international companies from 39 countries, with 31,905 visitors.
“This year, more than 500 local and international companies from over 60 countries will participate. We anticipate over 40,000 visitors, including 10,000 international attendees,” Ete noted.
“The fair attracts significant participation from important companies in the fields of food, food technologies, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and modest fashion. Additionally, there is a substantial demand for participation from sectors related to Islamic finance and halal tourism.”
Ete also recalled the “International Chefs Championship,” which has been organized concurrently with the fair and summit since 2018, and announced this year’s special event: “Palestine Day.”
“In collaboration with the Turkish Cooks and Pastry Chefs Confederation (TASPAKON) and the World Islamic Countries Chefs Communities Platform (WICS), we will host 1,000 chefs at the International Chefs Championship,” he said.
“On our designated Palestine Day, renowned chefs from around the world will prepare dishes from Palestinian cuisine, showcasing the country’s culture and culinary heritage.”