Malaysia calls for an end to ‘Islamophobia’

Agence France Presse

Kuala Lumpur, June 20:

Malaysia today called for an end to widespread “Islamophobia”, saying stereotyping and prejudice against Muslims risked sparking large-scale conflicts. “Worldwide, the image of Islam has suffered primarily as a result of a perception of association with extremism, radicalism and poverty,” Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar told a seminar. “Islamophobia is a problem. I think we need to handle and tackle it appropriately,” he said, adding it needed to be “stopped dead in its tracks” to ensure “large-scale conflagration among and within societies does not occur”. Syed Hamid said Islam continues to be distorted in the international media, and that more cross-cultural dialogues should be held to “foster deeper understanding and bridge the gap between East and West”. He also said the Muslim world needed a mechanism to regulate fatwas, to prevent differences of interpretation that make Muslims vulnerable to outside propaganda and attacks. Syed Hamid said that the world remained unstable in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States. “The threat of international terror is as real today as it was then,” he said, adding that acts of terrorism were now occurring in places which were not points of terror prior to September 11. “I think we are living in a world that is full of fear and doubts about security.”