United Nations, Sep 29 — Malaysian prime minister Saturday called on all peace-loving Muslims around the world to unite against the extremists who are using their religion as an excuse to commit violence, stressing that moderation is the key to winning the battle being waged for the future of Islam.
“Around the world, extremism is taking lives and crushing opportunity. This affects us all; but it is one people, of one faith, who suffer most,” reported Xinhua citing Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak at the ongoing General Debate of the UN General Assembly, which entered its fifth day here Saturday.
“I believe the greatest threat to Muslims today comes not from the outside world, but from within,” he said, adding that the conflict between Sunni and Shia threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of Muslims, from Syria and Lebanon to Iraq and Pakistan.
“Our religion — founded on peace and premised on tolerance — is being twisted by extremists, who are deploying false arguments to foster division and justify violence,” he said.
“Across the Islamic world, extremists are wrapping their perverse agenda in religious cloth; tearing families, countries and the ummah apart,” he said, referring to the collective community of Muslims.
But Muslims are not powerless to act, Razak said. “I believe moderation in religion and the political process can stem the loss of life and liberty in the Muslim world. Behind the tragic violence, there is a battle being waged for the future of Islam.”
He said that by reaffirming the commitment to moderation — and solving the political problems that drive instability, “we can seize back the center ground” and marginalise the extremists, as well as advance an agenda for peace, harmony and justice.
He also said: “We should not mistake moderation for weakness,” noting that “To face those baying for violence and call instead for calm is a sign not of frailty, but of strength. Muslim leaders should speak up and condemn such violence, lest their silence is mistaken for acceptance.”