Na­tions must work to­gether to fight the ig­no­rance, ex­clu­sion and griev­ance that fuel ex­trem­ism

New Straits Times - - News - The ar­ti­cle by Prime Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Na­jib Razak first ap­peared in ‘Arab News’, ‘Saudi Gazette’ and ‘Al Riyadh’

IT is al­ways a plea­sure to be in Saudi Ara­bia, but I am es­pe­cially glad to be in Riyadh for what King Sal­man has right­fully re­ferred to as a “his­toric” United States-Arab-Is­lamic Sum­mit. Our meet­ing could not be more timely or nec­es­sary. I am con­fi­dent this gath­er­ing will re­new and re-en­er­gise the friend­ship be­tween all present and pro­duce new roadmaps for co­op­er­a­tion, se­cu­rity and un­der­stand­ing.

High on the agenda will be the fact that although the so-called caliphate es­tab­lished by Daesh in Iraq and Syria is di­min­ish­ing, none should doubt that the threat from ter­ror­ists who blas­pheme the name of Is­lam re­mains high. For the na­tions gath­ered for the sum­mit it may be higher, as fight­ers flee­ing the lands they have oc­cu­pied and de­spoiled re­turn to their own coun­tries and plot to bring ter­ror to our cities.

Few have been spared. In Malaysia, we suf­fered our first at­tempted Daesh-linked at­tack last year, and it is only through the de­ter­mined, heroic ac­tions of our po­lice and se­cu­rity forces that there were no fa­tal­i­ties and fur­ther atroc­i­ties have been thwarted.

Now more than ever, the world needs the new part­ner­ship to con­front ex­trem­ism and ter­ror­ism that King Sal­man pro­poses we build at this sum­mit. I thank him for his in­vi­ta­tion and wel­come the par­tic­i­pa­tion of the other states at­tend­ing.

It is cru­cial that all Mus­lim coun­tries and lead­ers make it ab­so­lutely clear that there is noth­ing Is­lamic about ter­ror­ism. Those who say it is have been de­ceived by false preach­ers and by those who are ig­no­rant of or mis­in­formed about our re­li­gion. Au­then­tic Is­lam is a re­li­gion of en­light­en­ment, civil­i­sa­tion and schol­ar­ship, not of de­struc­tion and death.

The true Is­lam is a re­li­gion of peace, as is shown by the way for over 1,000 years Mus­lims, Chris­tians and Jews have lived and traded with and be­friended each other in the Mid­dle East, just as in Malaysia, Mus­lims, Hin­dus, Bud­dhists, Chris­tians, Taoists and oth­ers work and play side by side in har­mony.

To re­in­force that, the Malaysian gov­ern­ment has pro­moted the con­cept of the Qu­ranic in­junc­tion to­ward mod­er­a­tion. I am pleased that our ef­forts will be fur­ther boosted by the es­tab­lish­ment of the King Sal­man Cen­tre for In­ter­na­tional Peace in our cap­i­tal, Kuala Lumpur.

Saudi Ara­bia is a true friend to Malaysia, and we were de­lighted to host King Sal­man on his re­cent state visit, dur­ing which Saudi con­fi­dence in our econ­omy was shown by Saudi Aramco’s announcement of its US$7 bil­lion in­vest­ment in a re­fin­ery project with our state oil and gas com­pany Petronas.

These his­toric high ties are just one of the rea­sons that Malaysia fully sup­ports this sum­mit. We are in to­tal ac­cor­dance with its aims to in­crease tol­er­ance and co­ex­is­tence, and to en­hance se­cu­rity, sta­bil­ity and co­op­er­a­tion.

Both at home and abroad, Malaysia is fully com­mit­ted to fight­ing the threats of ter­ror­ism and vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism. As a UN mem­ber, Malaysia has fully sup­ported UN ef­forts such as the sec­re­tary-gen­eral’s “plan of ac­tion in pre­vent­ing vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism”, which calls for in­tel­li­gence­shar­ing among mem­ber states.

We are a state party to nine out of 14 in­ter­na­tional le­gal in­stru­ments con­cern­ing coun­tert­er­ror­ism, and we are part of the global coali­tion against Daesh. Malaysia also sup­ports the Cen­tre for Di­a­logue, Peace and Un­der­stand­ing, an ini­tia­tive of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion of Is­lamic Co­op­er­a­tion (OIC) in Jed­dah.

This strong stance has been trans­lated into re­al­ity with con­sid­er­able prac­ti­cal ef­fect in our own coun­try. We have placed great em­pha­sis on push­ing counter-nar­ra­tives via so­cial me­dia, and have founded the Re­gional Dig­i­tal Counter-Mes­sag­ing Cen­tre to com­bat ex­trem­ism in Malaysia, South­east Asia and be­yond.

We in Malaysia also have con­sid­er­able ex­pe­ri­ence in re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing peo­ple who have suc­cumbed to the siren voices of ter­ror­ism. This is some­thing we have pur­sued be­cause we know we should not give up on those who have been led astray, but could still re­turn to be­ing use­ful mem­bers of so­ci­ety.

MAY 21, 2017

Our de-rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion pro­gramme has worked with hun­dreds of ex­trem­ists, and has had a 95 per cent suc­cess rate in rein­te­grat­ing them so they can re­turn to the main­stream and show that even those who have fallen prey to false and evil ide­olo­gies can ul­ti­mately re­ject them and be a warn­ing, ex­am­ple and in­struc­tion to oth­ers.

We are will­ing and happy to share our ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise in this with all coun­tries at the sum­mit. For just as with my call for a Global Move­ment of Mod­er­ates at the UN in 2010, and our es­tab­lish­ment of a foun­da­tion to sup­port it in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia will never fal­ter in its ef­forts to fight for mod­er­a­tion and the true path of Is­lam, and to say loudly and clearly to the ex­trem­ists that they do not speak for us.

This sum­mit rep­re­sents an im­por­tant at­tempt to bring ties be­tween the Mus­lim world and the US to new lev­els. With even greater mu­tual un­der­stand­ing, we can work to­gether all the bet­ter to fight the ig­no­rance, ex­clu­sion and sense of griev­ance that can fuel vi­o­lent ex­trem­ism. We know Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is com­mit­ted to erad­i­cat­ing Daesh. Un­der my lead­er­ship, so will Malaysia be, as should all Mus­lim coun­tries at this sum­mit and be­yond.

We must en­sure that the bar­barism we see in Syria and Iraq is rooted out. We must show that we stand ready to con­front ter­ror swiftly and de­ci­sively wher­ever and when­ever it man­i­fests it­self. We must never sur­ren­der.

It is up to all of us at the sum­mit to forge this part­ner­ship and prove, once and for all, that there is no clash of civil­i­sa­tions be­tween the Mus­lim world and the West. There is only a clash with civil­i­sa­tion, and on that mem­bers of all re­li­gions must stand united, firm, de­ter­mined and ready to act.

Dis­placed Syr­i­ans at a tem­po­rary camp in the north­ern vil­lage of Ain Issa on Fri­day. Although the so-called caliphate es­tab­lished by the Is­lamic State in Iraq and Syria is di­min­ish­ing, the threat from ter­ror­ists re­mains high.

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