KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur Summit 2019 is aimed at improving the lives of Muslims, overcome Islamophobia and address the shortcomings in the Muslim world, said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
The Prime Minister said Malaysia wanted to hold the summit because it felt that it had to do something to improve the lives of Muslims the world over.
"We feel that we need to overcome Islamophobia. We need to find a way to address our shortcomings, our dependency on non-Muslims to protect ourselves against the enemies of Islam," he said in the opening address at the opening dinner of the summit here.
"We hope at the end of the summit, we will be able to affirm a few specific initiatives that can be the catalyst to bigger things," added Dr Mahathir, who is the chairman of the summit.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani have arrived in Malaysia for the summit while the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani is expected to attend on Thursday (Dec 19).
Uzbekistan will be represented by its State Advisor to the President, Rustam Kasimov.
Dr Mahathir said the summit was also an opportunity for countries to get closer "to our Muslim brothers and sisters as enjoined in the Quran that all Muslims are brothers."
"While the majority of Malaysians are Muslims, we have a substantial minority who are from different faiths, cultures, customs and ways of life," said the Prime Minister.
"We will never claim to be the perfect Muslim or the model of a good Muslim nation, but we can attest that we have been able to live with our non-Muslim citizens in peace and harmony for decades and this tradition had existed since our independence," he said.
"Admittedly, there have been minor racial and religious conflicts but they are rare and few, insignificant if we are to compare with the period of peace, goodwill and prosperity. To our mind, that is what Islam enjoins us to do – to live peacefully with our non-Muslim citizens and work together to build a nation that is prosperous, peaceful and harmonious," said Dr Mahathir.
With some 450 delegates from 56 countries of the Islamic world present, issues such as the rise of Islamophobia, the incarceration of Muslims around the globe and mass migration of Muslims due to civil wars are expected to be highlighted at the conference.
The participants of the summit, which carries the theme ‘The Role of Development in Achieving National Sovereignty’, comprise of thinkers, intellectuals, politicians and community leaders.
Discussions at the meeting will be framed by seven main thrusts, namely national development and sovereignty; integrity and good governance; culture and identity; justice and freedom; peace, security and defence; trade and investment; as well as technology and internet governance.
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