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British Deputy PM in Malaysia to Learn About Religious Co-Existence


British Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott is visiting Malaysia to learn about its approach to peaceful co-existence between communities of different religions.

In a letter published Saturday in a Malaysian newspaper, Prescott praises the country for becoming "a successful multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural society in a rapidly changing world."

Malaysia is a mainly Muslim country that is 60 percent ethnic Malay, but also is about 25 percent Chinese and eight percent Indian, with large numbers of Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Taoists.

Prescott says there is a lot of discussion in Britain about how to create harmony amid increasing disputes between the Muslim community and the rest of the country. In a recent controversy, some British politicians criticized Muslim women who wear veils.

The deputy British leader says the answer to such disputes is to have an open and respectful debate and to be sensitive to differences that arise from religious beliefs.

Prescott is visiting the Islamic Art Museum in Kuala Lumpur Sunday for a dialogue session with Muslim scholars. He will have talks with Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak Monday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.