Muslims 'humiliated, oppressed' around the world

Jews rule the world by proxy but Muslims can defeat them through the use of brains as well as brawn, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad told a major Islamic summit on Thursday.

In a typically provocative speech at one of his last appearances on the world stage, Mahathir told the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit that Muslims could exploit what he termed the increasing arrogance of the Jewish people.

“The Europeans killed six million Jews out of 12-million. But today the Jews rule this world by proxy. They get others to fight and die for them,” said Mahathir (77) who is due to retire at the end of the month after leading this moderate Muslim country for 22 years.

“1,3-billion Muslims cannot be defeated by a few million Jews.”

He urged Muslims to emulate the Jewish response to oppression, however, saying the Jews had “survived 2000 years of pogroms not by hitting back, but by thinking”.

“We cannot fight them through brawn alone, we must use our brains also,” he said.

Mahathir said Muslims were “humiliated and oppressed” around the world, a reference to what he sees as the West’s use of the war on terrorism as a pretence for a war against Islam.

The summit is the biggest gathering of Islamic leaders since the 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, drawing more than 30 heads of state and government from throughout the Muslim world.

The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, in a speech handing over the chairmanship of the 57-member organisation to Mahathir, said Islamic countries support the war against terror but reject attempts to link terrorism with their religion.

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, in a statement read on his behalf, warned of rising hostility between Islam and the West, describing it as “ugly, dangerous and wrong”.

He said Western governments must address the grievances of Muslims, while Islamic states needed to make greater efforts to overcome their problems.

The other dominant issues at the summit are the crises in Iraq and the Middle East and a need for urgent reforms by Muslim states to halt their economic and political decline and give them a stronger voice in the world.

“The Islamic people have fallen far behind and they know it,” Annan said.

They would only be able to assert their influence in shaping the world when all Muslims enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms, with political reform, education and development offering the only hope of a better future, he said.

The head of Iraq’s US-appointed Governing Council said the OIC had agreed to drop a contentious draft resolution calling for a timetable for the end of the US-led occupation in the face of opposition from the Iraqi delegation.

Ayad Allawi, who is representing the council at the summit, indicated they were also unhappy with the resolution’s call for the United Nations to take a central role in the transition to democracy.

The council had asked that the resolution be replaced by a simple statement saying that the OIC countries want Iraqi independence as soon as possible, said Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher.

The dispute centres on the same issues which have dogged the US attempt to get a new Security Council resolution on Iraq.
The council was due to vote on the new resolution later on Thursday.

On the Middle East, the summit will back beleaguered Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and reassert OIC support for the uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, according to a draft resolution.

Mahathir hinted, however, that the Palestinians should drop all violence against the Israelis and negotiate.

“Over the past 50 years of fighting in Palestine we have not achieved any result. We have in fact worsened our situation,” he said.

Leaders attending the summit, which ends on Friday, include those from Syria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Indonesia, Iran, Turkey, Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Afghanistan and Sudan. - Sapa-AFP

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