Islamophobia being countered through Malaysia Madani, says PM's Department

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is being positioned as a model of tolerance that promotes healthy multi-religious and multi-cultural engagement as well as a platform for discussing efforts to counter Islamophobia.

In a statement, the Prime Minister's Department noted that damaging occurrences of Islamophobia had been taking place in Europe and other non-Muslim nations.

To promote the Malaysian position, the government organised the International Forum on Islamophobia: Meaningful Engagement Through Madani Discourse in Putrajaya on Monday (Feb 27), which saw over 1,000 attendees.

The forum, attended by representatives of the civil service, diplomats, religious leaders, NGOs and activists, aimed to address the pressing global issue in the spirit of Malaysia Madani.

“The recent public burning of the Quran by extremists in Sweden; mass murder of Muslims during congregational prayer in a mosque in New Zealand; ban of minarets on mosques in Switzerland; refusal by some European governments to accept Muslim refugees fleeing wars in the Middle East; and continuing harassment of Muslim women who choose to wear the hijab in various Western countries; are just but a few examples of Islamophobia that currently plagues many Western and other non-Muslim societies.

“(It is also) to provide an opportunity for institutional and social collaboration as well as networking among stakeholders towards fighting Islamophobia and religious discrimination (and) to promote better understanding towards Islam and Muslims both locally and internationally," the statement read.

The forum was organised by the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) in collaboration with the Foreign Affairs Ministry and Prime Minister's Department.

In his welcoming remarks, Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir said Islamophobic acts are not simply a matter of hate or prejudice towards Muslims but also a flagrant violation of fundamental human rights.

“When Muslims are discriminated against by the public en masse, it undermines the very principles of pluralism and equality on which democratic societies pride themselves.

“Freedom of expression cannot be equated with freedom to insult, which goes against the universal principle of respect for religions,” he said.

He also said Islamophobia stemmed from misinformation linked to social and political issues.

“Addressing these underlying issues is critical in rebuilding tolerance and respect for all walks of life.

“By doing so, we are fulfilling our duty to uphold the fundamental rights of all individuals while building a more inclusive and equitable society,” he added.

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