Moderates among religious followers called to fight extremism

KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 (Bernama) -- Malaysia has called on the moderates among religious followers to take the lead in a world threatened by extremism and fundamentalism.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said moderates from all faiths must reclaim the agenda for peace and pragmatism, and marginalise the extremists and radicals.

"Extremism and radicalism do not have religious nor cultural backings. They are diseases, that can cause disintegration and destruction to a society.

"And for this reason alone, religious followers worldwide must come forward, and support the agenda for moderation, as it is the best approach to address the problems and chaos caused by extreme thinking and flawed understanding of religious principles," he said in his speech at the international symposium on 'Moderation in Multi-religious Societies: Towards Peace and Harmony' here, today.

Also present were Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMMF) executive chairman Datuk Dr Nasharudin Mat Isa.

Ahmad Zahid said promoting peace and harmony through moderation was just the first crucial step towards a greater agenda, of unity and harmony in multi-religious and multi-cultural societies.

"The way forward for all of us in achieving this vision is by promoting mutual acceptance, respect, and togetherness among people of different religions, so that the world would be a better place for all mankind," he said.

Malaysia has paved the way when the world body, the United Nations adopted Malaysia's resolution of moderation, at its 72nd session of the General Assembly last year.

The Deputy Prime Minister said besides the proclamation of 2019 as The International Year of Moderation, the resolution was also an effort by Malaysia to amplify the voices of moderation, through the promotion of dialogue, tolerance, understanding and cooperation.

The Muslim World League too, he said regarded Malaysia as a great example of national harmony in the world, and an example of wassatiyah or moderation approach.

In the context of Malaysia, Ahmad Zahid said dialogue had been and was the best mechanism to foster mutual understanding, respect and also the avenue to share religious perspectives on issues affecting humanity, including preservation of peace and harmony.

"In a multi-religious and multi-cultural country like Malaysia, where moderation is essential, it is indeed a challenge to establish and sustain peace and harmony, but that is the reality, and we need to address it with wisdom, justice and kindness," he said.

He said the government was most committed to the noble cause of achieving peaceful co-existence in the society, where people from various religious beliefs and cultural backgrounds, are able to live together in an environment characterised by diversity, achieved through engagement, respect, acceptance, tolerance and justice.

Countries that aimed to become great and successful must, as a matter of necessity, tread along the path of peace and peace-making, he added.