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Malaysian Leader Calls for Economic Development in Muslim World

Abdullah Badawi
Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi says the Muslim world should do more to improve the economic standing of all Muslims. Mr. Abdullah says economic development and peace must come together.

Malaysia's leader Abdullah Badawi told business leaders gathered in Hong Kong Monday the Islamic world must do all it can to end poverty among all Muslims.

"The threat to the Muslims is not really terrorism, not extremism, the threat is poverty and illiteracy and we must do all we can to eliminate this," said Mr. Badawi.

Mr. Abdullah, who currently chairs the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Conference, says the time has come for the OIC to emphasize the economic development of its members. He says Muslim populations must not only strive for peace, but also for economic vitality. Many of the OIC's members are developing countries in Africa and the Middle East.

"OIC has been very much concerned about political issues all these years, and spending a lot of time talking about issues relating to the situation in the Middle East," continued Mr. Abdullah. "But what we are trying to do is we want to give an economic business face to Islam."

Malaysia has recently been taking steps to promote Islamic banking and finance. Next week, senior officials from the Islamic Development Bank, the funding agency of the OIC, will meet in Kuala Lumpur to discuss and formulate economic programs for the organization's poorer members.

Mr. Abdullah also called for moderation in the practice of the Islamic faith and for the Muslim world to show that Islam is a "progressive religion." The Malaysian president urged Muslims to enter into inter-faith dialogues to encourage greater understanding.