KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 20 — The government will implement comprehensive strategies to foster deeper understanding of Islam in order to counter Islamophobia in the country, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim pledged last night.
The PM said such measures were critical to stem Islamophobia in Malaysia while preserving the rights of other religions.
“I repeat in this country that Islam is the religion of the federation and I will continue to defend the faith, continue to spread Islam, and provide adequate allocations and support to train Muslims who do not understand, and implement Islamic programmes and Islamic reform,” he said.
Anwar was delivering a speech to the 63rd International Al-Quran Recitation and Memorisation Assembly at the World Trade Centre here last night.
Citing Palestinian intellectual Edward Said, Anwar said that opposition to Islam often stems from ignorance and superficial knowledge of the religion.
He said that Islamophobia is not only the result of these two factors, but also a lack of understanding of the Quran.
“I mention the clash of ideas between the extreme anti-Islam forces known as Islamophobia today, and actions that use very extreme and fanatical methods in the name of defending Islam.
“But in a way, it has brought down the name and dignity of Islam, because of the tendency to commit acts of violence,” he stressed.
He also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to ensuring the well-being of all citizens, regardless of their religious affiliations.
“We can do it if we unite, we can do it if we give more determination to understand the Quran, read it and give explanations, enlightenment about what Islam means in a country of different races, different religions,” he said.
Acknowledging Malaysia’s diverse society, he underscored the country’s pledge to protect the rights of every individual, including non-Muslims from various faiths.
“This country will protect the rights of every citizen, including non-Muslims (whether adherents) Christians, Hindus or Buddhists in this country,” he added.