KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will never claim to be the perfect Muslim nation, although the Muslim community here is able to live alongside non-Muslims in peace and harmony, Dr Mahathir Mohamad said tonight.
“This tradition has existed since our independence,” the prime minister said, adding that while the majority of Malaysians were Muslims, it had a substantial minority from different faiths, cultures and customs.
Mahathir said this when delivering his speech at the welcoming dinner ahead of the Kuala Lumpur Summit, which starts tomorrow.
He, however, admitted that there had been minor racial and religious conflicts although these were “insignificant” compared with the period of peace, goodwill and prosperity.
“To our mind, that is what Islam enjoins us to do — to live peacefully with our non-Muslim citizens and work together to build a nation that is prosperous, peaceful and harmonious.”
Commenting on the three-day summit — which will see the likes of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani attending — Mahathir said something must be done to improve the lives of Muslims worldwide.
There was a need, he said, to overcome Islamophobia.
“We need to find a way to address our shortcomings, our dependency on non-Muslims to protect ourselves against the enemies of Islam.”