KUALA LUMPER: Hosting a Muslim leaders summit at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Mahathir Muhammad bemoaned the state of Islam and defended the meeting shunned by Saudi Arabia and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
Split in the Muslim world leaders were self-evident as only about 20 countries sent leaders, or delegations to the Kuala Lumpur summit, though all 57 members of the OIC had been invited.
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The Saudi king’s refusal to attend and the late withdrawal of Pakistan from the event had left the hosts scrambling to soothe sensitive relations.
In welcoming remarks, Mahathir said the Kuala Lumpur Summit was meant to understand why Islam, the Muslims and their countries were “in a state of crisis, helpless and unworthy of this great religion”.
It was unclear to what extent the leaders would discuss major geopolitical crises afflicting the Muslim world, ranging from the age-old disputes in the Middle East and Kashmir to the conflicts in Syria and Yemen.
Through to the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and the alleged persecution of Uighur Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region.
Mahathir said the summit should address the world’s perceptions of Islam, the rise of Islamophobia, the decline of the Islamic civilization, and reforms in governance needed by Muslim nations.
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“We are not discriminating or isolating anyone,” he said in his welcome speech, watched on by leaders including Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamid Al-Thani.
“We are attempting to start small and if these ideas, proposals and solutions are acceptable and proved workable, then we hope to take it up to the larger platform for consideration.”