OIC- Almost all member states of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation attended the gathering, the only exception was Syria which was suspended from the OIC, a Saudi press reported Thursday.
“The decision to suspend was taken with near unanimity. By suspending Syria from the OIC, the summit was only recognizing a fact which the Syrian people have been proclaiming to the whole world with great sacrifices.” Saudi press added.
The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation suspended Syria in a meeting attended by its staunch ally Iran, in a move hailed early on Thursday by the United States as one that sends "a strong message" to Damascus.
A statement issued at the end of an OIC summit in the Saudi holy city of Makkah said participants had agreed on "the need to end immediately the acts of violence in Syria and to suspend that country from the OIC". The final statement said there had been "deep concern at the massacres and inhuman acts suffered by the Syrian people".
"The conference decided to suspend the Syrian Arab Republic membership from the OIC and all its subsidiary organs," the closing statement by the conferees said.
OIC chief Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu told a news conference the decision sent "a strong message from the Muslim world to the Syrian regime".
"This world can no longer accept a regime that massacres its people using planes, tanks and heavy artillery," he added.
It was "also a message to the international community stating that the Muslim world backs a peaceful solution (in Syria), wants an end to the bloodshed and refuses to let the problem degenerate into a religious conflict and spill over" into the wider region, Ihsanoglu said.
Syria, which was not invited to the OIC summit, was suspended by the Arab League in November in protest of its use of force against demonstrators, in an uprising that has since widened into civil war.
In an interview with state-TV on Thursday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al- Moallem said the Arab League (AL) and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) conspired on the suspension of Syria's OIC membership, holding them responsible for the bloodletting in Syria.
Minister al- Moallem indicated that the United States is the head of the conspiracy against his country and that Qatar, Saudi and Turkey are just tools.
"They are hypocrites because they pay the money for the terrorist gangs in order to kill the Syrians, destruct their infrastructure, force them to leave homes and take them as human shields," al-Moallem said.
For her part, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said "today's action underscores Syrian President Assad regime's increasing international isolation and widespread support for the Syrian people and their struggle for a democratic state that represents their aspirations and respects their human rights".
The move by the OIC, which represents 1.5 billion Muslims world-wide, is aimed at further isolating the Damascus regime. An Arab diplomat based in Beirut told dpa earlier that "Iran was opposing the move, as well as Algeria, but most of the other members are keen to adopt it."
Some countries, including Pakistan and Kazakhstan, argued that the final statement should allocate some blame on the opposition rebels for being part of the continued bloodshed in the war torn country, the diplomat said.
In comments published Wednesday by Iran's Mehr news agency, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad, who was attending the summit, lashed out at some countries for failing to solve the Syrian crisis by political means.
"But instead and unfortunately some of our brothers and friends have not acted well in this area, and instead of inviting the conflicting parties for talks ... they are busy sending weapons into the country and encouraging slaughter," Ahamdinejad said.
Iran has accused Saudi and Qatar of backing the Syrian rebels by sending them weapons and money.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest inter-government organisation after UN, with a membership of 57 nations, representing 1.5 billion Muslims.