For Mahatir, mixing Islam and democracy can sometimes lead to disaster

Speaking in Oxford, the Malaysian leader suggests that in some Muslim countries, people cannot wait for the term to end to change immediately after the election. Instead, more time must be spend trying to understand the workings of democracy. In some cases, “there will be fighting” so that “countries can be almost destroyed,” he said.

London (AsiaNews/Agencies) – For some Islamic nations, the transition to democracy can be disastrous, said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad (pictured) at a conference on "The challenge of Good Governance in the Muslim world", held yesterday in London at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

For the Malaysian leader, Muslim countries adopting the democratic system needed to spend more time trying to understand the workings of democracy.

Far too often, when “they try a democratic system, there will be fighting among themselves and the countries can be almost destroyed”.

For Mahathir, speaking at Oxford was a return. Twenty-two years ago, he delivered a memorable lecture on ‘Islam, the Misunderstood Religion’ at the prestigious British university.

On this occasion, he stressed that “If you don't understand that in a democracy the vote is powerful, then you cannot have a democratic system”. Conversely, Muslim countries, he suggests, were much more comfortable with a monarchy.

In a democratic system, people choose the government and support the government for a period of time. However, in some Muslim countries, people cannot wait for the term to end and want to change immediately after the election, he said.

“(It’s) time for them to respect the vote and set up a government that uses power for the betterment of the country and people,” he said.

Mahathir said the democratic system worked somehow in Malaysia because whilst people were loyal to their royal rulers, they also wanted a democratic system.

“We (in Malaysia) don't like violence. We don't overthrow a government. The government changes by itself,” he said.