21-05-2014 12:53

At international meet next month, Malaysians to learn moderation, interfaith issues

KUALA LUMPUR, May 20 — An international convention will be held next month to promote moderation to Malaysians and reclaim Islam from extremists, at a time when numerous racial and religious rows have driven a deeper wedge in the county’s interfaith relations.

Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, the CEO of the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation which was jointly organising the 3rd International Muslim Unity Convention said the event was timely as Malaysia is still grappling with issues like “unity, social cohesion, interfaith relations and tolerance”.

With Malaysia’s interfaith ties suffering huge blows of late, Saifuddin observed that the diversity of the many faith followers here have been used to incite hatred.

He expressed hope that the convention, themed “Yes To Moderation, No To Extremism”, will help drive Malaysians to learn more about each other’s religions.

“The convention will motivate the positive traits among Malaysians... the coming of this kind of convention will encourage people to do more interfaith dialogues, to understand more of people of other faiths,” the former deputy higher education minister told reporters here.

The convention is also well-timed as Malaysia is preparing to lead the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year and eyeing a seat in the United Nations Security Council, Saifuddin said.


Sheikh Muhammad Umar ibn Ramadhan, chairman of co-organiser Ramadhan Foundation UK, explained that the convention was first held in January 2005 following terrorist attacks in the UK.

Islam had increasingly been represented by extreme Muslims such as Osama bin Laden and Taliban, Muhammad said, adding: “For too long, the platform of media and the voice of Islam has been undermined by extreme people”.

“That’s why we call it the International Muslim Unity Convention to unite Muslims, to bring Muslims together to reclaim the message and image of Islam from extremism.

“Because the biggest danger we face to world peace and harmony is extremism and terrorism,” the leader of the UK-based group told reporters here via an online video call.

According to Ramadhan Foundation Malaysia’s CEO Shahul Hameed Dawood, the 2nd International Muslim Unity Convention held here in 2009 had attracted over 600 participants, with individuals from over 10 countries also joining it.

Muhammad also said that the many non-Muslims had turned up at the second convention.

The two-day event, which will be held at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre from June 11 to 12, is open to the public regardless of their religion.

Topics at the convention include tackling “Islamophobia” in the media, ideological obstructions to Muslim unity in the world and the role of interfaith in the world.

Discrimination among Muslims, as well as the role and rights of women in Islam will also be discussed at the event.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad are expected to deliver a keynote address and luncheon talk respectively.

Saifuddin, known for his moderate and progressive views, will also speak at the event.

The speakers for the event include the United Nations general assembly’s former president Tan Sri Razali Ismail, the United Arab Emirates president’s special advisor H.E. Sayyed Ali Hashimi, US president Barack Obama’s special envoy to the OIC H.E Ambassador Rashad Hussain.

Ramadhan Foundation chairman Sheikh Muhammad Umar ibn Ramadhan, US’s Islamic Supreme Council of America chairman Sheikh Muhammad Hisham Kabbani and former US president Richard Nixon’s former advisor Dr Robert F Dixon Crane are also among the speakers listed.

Saifuddin said today that he will seek for more local speakers and moderators, including from the non-Muslim community. 

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