KUALA LAMPUR: Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday said Muslim leaders did a disservice to Islam and were not able to explain to the West the difference between the religion of peace and terrorism. He also attributed Islamophobia to ignorance.
Speaking at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia in Kuala Lampur, the premier regretted the failure of Muslim nations to educate the West on why blasphemy was a sensitive subject for Muslims.
The premier flew to the Southeast Asian country in a bid to underline importance Pakistan attaches to Kuala Lumpur. The visit is seen as significant since it comes merely a few weeks after the Kuala Lumpur summit. the premier pulled out of the event attended by leaders from Iran, Turkey, Qatar besides host Malaysia.
Pakistan initially confirmed its participation at the summit but changed its mind after Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries voiced concerns over it.
Riyadh viewed the summit as an attempt to create a new Islamic bloc. Islamabad made frantic efforts to convince the Saudi leadership to join the moot but could not bridge the differences between Kuala Lumpur and the oil-rich kingdom.
Imran recalled speaking to Dr Mahathir and Turkish President Recap Tayyip Erdogan on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly 2019 and formulating a plan to combat Islamophobia.
The premier said the idea behind KL Summit was to meet and highlight Islamophobia and to use a medium that would correct misconceptions about Islam. “Some is deliberately done by those who want to demonise Islam but most of the time due to ignorance.”
Imran said the platform would also educate the Muslim youth. He reflected that the children today has access to vast information on just their fingertips. “There is a need to give the children alternate information such as the history of Islam.
“With new technologies such as artificial intelligence, it is important to create a narrative,” he said and emphasised on educating children on the origins of Islam and misconceptions.
Praising religious tolerance in Malaysia, the prime minister elaborated on certain watershed moments in recent history, which in his opinion further fueled Islamophobia across the world.
“The Iranian revolution spread this in the West that the Muslim world will be taken over by a revolution. An anti-West revolution. It sprouted the idea of an anti-Western interest and then in 1989, Salman Rushdi wrote a blasphemous book. It became the second watershed moment because the reaction of the Muslim world could not be understood by the West.”
“They [West] needed to understand why we considered it blasphemy. I consider that the Muslim world’s biggest failure. It was up to the Muslim leadership to explain why it mattered so much to us. We need to tell them why we love the Holy Prophet (PBUH).”
He further said that religion in the West, particularly in Europe, is not practised in the same manner as Muslims practice their religion. “They have a completely different attitude.”
He added that the leaders of the Muslim world should have explained why such issues cause anguish to Muslims. “That’s where the idea that Islam is intolerant and against western values came into being.”
PM Imran added that the Muslim world should have objected when the West linked the terror attacks of 9/11 to Islamic terrorism. “There was no connection between Islam and that terrorist act.”
The premier regretted Muslim leaders not questioning the West linking Islam to terrorism. Instead of de-linking terrorism especially suicide bombing, he continued, the Muslim world adopted the same terminology of “moderate and radical Islam”.
A man in New Zealand walked into a mosque and killed dozens because he could not tell the difference between a normal Muslim and a terrorist, reflected the premier.
The prime minister emphasised that religion cannot be enforced, rather it flows from the heart and soul.
Prime Minister Imran Khan also reiterated his government’s plan of making Pakistan into a welfare state and said the country has prioritised poverty alleviation despite a troubled economy.
He also said the biggest issue in Pakistan is the inequality between the social classes.
“We’ve given healthcare, built shelter homes. We allocated the greatest amount of money for the poverty alleviation department; Ehsaas Programme through which we give cash, livestock, loans, vocational training and scholarships to the poor section of the society.”
“We have elites who are above the law. We have cartels and mafia who wield their powers to create artificial inflation.”
The premier also said that “China is a model as it lifted 700 million out of poverty”.