Speaking earlier today at the launch of the 12th World Islamic Economic Forum in Jakarta, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak highlighted the enormous potential that exists within the Islamic World, and called on these countries to work together and assume responsibility for overcoming the challenges they face, in order to advance politically and economically.
Reflecting on the damage caused by foreign interventions, the Prime Minister warned the audience of Muslim leaders that:
“Foreign interventions in Muslim countries have led to intended and unintended consequences – which are still being felt today.
“The invasion of Iraq in particular set in motion a disastrous chain of events. Chaos, destruction, and the possible break-up of nation states are spectres that have been visited on countries such as Iraq, Syria and Libya.
“The so-called Arab Spring yielded a harvest of instability across the region. Thousands have paid with their lives, while terrorists and other armed militias now roam freely over once secure lands. A Pandora’s Box of sectarian conflict has been unleashed.”
By comparison, the Prime Minister said:
“Majority-Muslim countries such as Malaysia and Indonesia, which have not been subject to foreign intervention, are oases of peace and stability.
“This is why the leaders here today must work to solve our problems and issues together. I have always been a proponent of openness to the world and collaboration. But we must insist on respect for our own sovereignty, our own laws, and our own democratically elected governments.
“For we have seen the devastating results of foreign intervention in the Muslim world, often based on incomplete, wrong or partisan information. We must make clear that we reject it. And reject those who, out of political motivation, call for foreign powers to intervene in their own country. We, as the ummah, will take responsibility for ourselves, and we pray for guidance to do so.”
The Prime Minister said there were causes for optimism in Muslim countries, highlighting the growth in the Islamic economy, which increased at almost double the global rate in 2014/2015, and the expected growth in Islamic consumer spending, which is projected to rise to US$2.6 trillion in 2020.
Sharing Malaysia’s example, he noted that despite challenges arising from headwinds in the global economy, Malaysia’s economy remained strong with 1.8 million jobs created since 2009, Gross National Income having increased by nearly 50 percent, and Malaysia’s RM1.7 trillion Islamic capital market more than tripling in size over the last ten years.
The Prime Minister said:
“Even non-Muslims are attracted to the Islamic economy’s underlying socially-conscious ethos. There’s an opening here for dialogue with the West, which longs in some sectors for a more just and compassionate economy of its own.”
At the same time, the Prime Minister acknowledged that the progress of the Islamic World faced challenges, not least from terrorism, and was clear that Muslim-majority countries should take the lead in condemning and combatting the scourge of Daesh. He said:
“We must fight their lies with the truth about Islam. We must oppose with all our might their attempts to indoctrinate our young people, and to take advantage of those on the margins or who have lost their way.”
He concluded that those gathered at WIEF in Jakarta “represent the true face of the Muslim world”:
“We seek a world that includes all of our citizens, and shares the proceeds of growth with all. One that educates all of our children; one that supports all our entrepreneurs and small and medium sized businesses; one that prizes knowledge and innovation; and one that appreciates that our diversity is our joy and our strength.
“As it says in the Quran: “Oh mankind! We have made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other.”
PRIME MINISTER’S OFFICE