NEW YORK: Malaysia pushed further its moderation agenda on the global stage amid growing concern over increasing violent extremism, religious intolerance and threats of a self-declared Islamic State.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the moderation agenda should involve all religions to pursue the path to peace.
“The fight against extremism is not about Christians versus Muslims or Muslims versus Jews but moderates versus extremists of all religions.
“We therefore need to rally a coalition of moderates, those willing to reclaim their religion and pursue the path to peace,” Najib said in his address at the 69th United Nations General Assembly here.
The Prime Minister in his 20-minute speech on Friday welcomed Pope Francis’ visit to Palestine and his efforts to bring moderate Palestinians and Israelis together to pray for peace.
“By demonstrating moderation in the political process, we can ensure no one is left outside society.
“By practising moderation in religion, we can marginalise the extremists,” he told the gathering of world leaders and dignitaries. His wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor was also present.
Najib said Malaysia rejected the so-called IS, which is defined by extremism, and condemned the violence being committed in the name of Islam.
Muslims, he said, were watching in despair as Islam, a religion of peace, had been used to justify atrocities.
“We know the threat to world peace and security is not Islam but extremism: intolerant, violent and militant extremism.”
It was time, he said, for the world to respond differently as previous wars against terror attacked one evil only to see a greater evil emerge.
“First, security and statehood must be returned to the people of Syria and Iraq and secondly, we must pursue a different kind of politics.
“We must break the cycle where one group gains power only to wield it against the other. We should commit to more inclusive politics.”
Malaysia, Najib said, was ready to share its moderation approach, which he believed could make a valuable contribution to fragile states and international affairs alike.
The Prime Minister said countries must confront extremist propaganda and defeat the message that seduced the young into acts of violence.
“This is the work of a generation. To begin, we should focus on the real world conditions that allow disillusion to grow.
“That means building sustainable economies that bring opportunity for our people and addressing legitimate concerns that drive radicalisation.
“The fight against extremists must be won not just in Syria and Iraq but in Britain, Belgium, the United States and Malaysia,” he said.
“We must confront the myth that committing atrocities in the name of an Islamic State is an act of faith and that death brings martyrdom.
“Now is the time to advance a vision of peace and moderation. Let us show that Muslims, united in faith, can be a powerful force for progress, knowledge and justice, as we were in the greatest periods of our history,” he added.