The three-day summit, which ends tomorrow, is centred on ‘‘The Role of Development in Achieving National Sovereignty’. Saudi Arabia is not attending, seeing it as a threat to the influence of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday opened the Kuala Lumpur Summit, a meeting bringing together representatives from some of the most populous Muslim nations in the world.
In his address, the 94-year-old leader said that Muslims, their religion and their countries "are in a state of crisis". Some of the key issues facing them are jihad, oppressive governments and neo-colonialism.
The meeting, which ends tomorrow, is centred on ‘The Role of Development in Achieving National Sovereignty’,
Participants include government leaders, experts, intellectuals, politicians, community advocates and private sector representatives, some 450 delegates from 56 countries coming together to present, analyse and propose solutions to the problems that afflict Muslims.
Saudi Arabia shunned the event, seeing it as a threat to the influence of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a 57-member body that sees itself as the collective voice of the Muslim world and in which the kingdom plays a dominant role.
The Saudis are particularly annoyed by the presence of the leaders of its Mideast rivals, namely Iran, Qatar and Turkey. In fact, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, Qatari Emir sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also addressed the summit on the first day.
Although he was invited, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud declined to travel to Southeast Asia. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo were also a no-show.
As the summit’s chairman, Mahathir spoke first. "Everywhere we see Muslim countries being destroyed, their citizens forced to flee their countries, forced to seek refuge in non-Muslim countries," he said.
The Malaysian Prime Minister went on to say that many Muslim countries continue to face "fratricidal wars, civil wars, failed governments and many other catastrophes" whilst no “serious effort [is] being made to end or reduce them or to rehabilitate the religion" of Islam.
As a consequence, “Today we have lost the respect of the world. We are no longer the source of human knowledge nor the model of human civilisation".
For Mahathir, growing Islamophobia, about which many Muslims complain, stems partly from those willing to die to protect the religion. Ultimately, “disreputable acts of terror” only worsened global perceptions of the religion.
“We may claim to be performing jihad but the result is more oppression of Muslims everywhere. We are being expelled from our own countries, rejected by asylum countries, oppressed and condemned. We have caused fear of Islam to the point of Islamophobia being created,” he said.