Najib should move a motion when Parliament meets on Oct. 7 to condemn in unambiguous and unconditional terms the extremism, violence and barbarism of ISIS

I commend the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak for his speech at the United Nations General Assembly unambiguously and unconditionally denouncing ISIS and his call on the global community to defeat violent extremism and religious intolerance.

In his speech, Najib condemned the violent extremists that have declared an Islamic state in Syria and Iraq, and destroyed lives and communities and destabilised fragile nations and threatened regional security.

Najib said: “They challenge the very notion of the state. They call our youth with the siren song of illegitimate jihad. And they demand all Muslims swear allegiance to their so-called caliph. That demand will never be met.

“We reject this so-called Islamic State. We reject this state defined by extremism. And we condemn the violence being committed in the name of Islam.

“Around the world, Muslims have watched in despair as our religion – a religion of peace – has been used to justify atrocities. We have turned away in horror at the crucifixions and the beheadings. We have mourned the sons who have been stolen, and the daughters sold.

“We know that the threat to world peace and security is not Islam, but extremism: intolerant, violent and militant extremism. The actions of these militants are beyond conscience and belief. They violate the teachings of Islam, the example set by the Prophet Muhammad, and the principles of Islamic law.”

Four days ago, I had given at least three reasons why Najib Razak should unambiguously and unconditionally denounce ISIS in his United Nations General Assembly speech yesterday, viz:

  • Firstly, his first reference to ISIL/ISIS on June 24 was quite laudatory and glorifying, exhorting UMNO to emulate what he described as the “brave exploits” of the ISIL/ISIS Islamist militants and extremists;
  • Secondly, the daily ISIS sadistic and horrific human rights violations, including targeted killings, trafficking, sexual abuse, abductions, forced conversions and beheadings which run contrary to the Global Movement of Moderates and Wasatiyah advocated by Najib to reject all form of violence and extremism, whether political or religious.
  • Thirdly, as Prime Minister of multi-religious Malaysia, with Islam as the official religion, Najib should speak loud and clear to lead the world, including Islamic nations, to condemn the terrorism and inhumanity of ISIS, not only as an affront and anathema to Islam as a religion of peace but for its crimes against humanity.

Najib’s speech at the UNGA yesterday has redeemed his reputation and that of the Malaysian government as a secret admirer of IS/ISIS/ISIL because of his foolish and ill-advised initial reference and glorification of the Islamist militants and extremists.

It would have been better if Najib’s unqualified condemnation of the Islamic State militants and extremists had been made very much earlier instead of waiting for the UNGA yesterday, but it is better late than never.

A day before Najib’s speech at the UNGA, an international coalition of Muslim scholars delivered a withering condemnation of ISIS by unpicking its doctrine in an open letter and declaring its existence “an offence to Islam”.

More than 120 Sunni imams and academics, including some of the Muslim world’s most respected scholars, signed the 18-page document which outlines 24 separate grounds on which the terror group violates the tenets of Islam.

The letter, addressed to the head of ISIS, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, is significant not only because of its signatories but also its detailed references to the Koran and other Islamic texts to counter the justifications offered by the extremists for their bloody rampage across a swathe of Syria and Iraq.

The closely-argued document singles the murders of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and British aid worker David Haines, by saying the men were “emissaries” and their killings as “unquestionably forbidden”.

It also takes ISIS to task over its countless acts of brutality and massacres under the guise of jihad, or a holy struggle. While acknowledging to Al-Baghdadi that “you and your fighters are fearless” and ready to die for their cause, the scholars state their actions are “not jihad at all, but rather, warmongering and criminality”.

The documents cites multiple examples of atrocities committed by ISIS fighters, describing the recent murder of hundreds of ethnic Yazidis in northern Iraq as “abominable crimes” and describes its attitudes to women and children as morally repugnant.

The letter concludes: “You have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder. This is a great wrong and an offence to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire world.”

The letter, whose signatories come from Sudan to Iceland and include the grand mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Shawqi Allam, and the mufti of Jerusalem and All Palestine, Sheikh Muhammad Ahmad Hussein, is the latest from leading Muslims around the world condemning ISIS and its doctrine.

In Turkey, 126 Islamic scholars have come together to lambast ISIS and its ideology in the name of Islam through a joint declaration.

The declaration as a result of the meeting of the world’s leading Islamic scholars in Istanbul under the title “World Islamic Scholars Peace, Moderation and Common Sense Initiative” denounced all kinds of anti-Islamic acts that are surfacing in Iraq and Syria and thus defaming the good name of Islam.

It declared that “Islam does not condone the killing of innocent people, envoys and thus journalists.

“To declare people who have not openly rejected Islam as unbelievers, to mistreat Christians and those who believe in the Quran, to reintroduce slavery which was unanimously rejected by Muslims, to usurp the rights of women and children, to mistreat and humiliate deceased bodies [to sever parts of the body], to torture people, to attribute evil deeds to Allah, to ruin the graves of the prophet and his companions are actions disapproved by Islam and it is not permissible to declare a caliphate without the approval of the Islamic nation."

In fact, the Global Movement of Moderates should be in the forefront of an international campaign to mobilise world opinion against the ISIS terrorists, as Najib had repeatedly made the clarion call in international fora, including twice at the United Nations General Assembly, for “moderates of all countries, of all religions, to take back the centre, to reclaim the agenda for peace and pragmatism, and to marginalize the extremists”.

As Najib has repeatedly stated, “the real divide is not between East and West or between the developed and developing worlds or between Muslims, Christians and Jews; it is between moderates and extremists of all religions”.

Unfortunately, the Global Movement of Moderates initiated by Najib is unable to rise to the challenge of the times to mobilise national and international opinion against the violent extremism and religious intolerance in Syria and Iraq as it is desperately fending off attacks from extremists and intolerant right-wing groups in the country for being “seditious” as a result of a “white terror” spree by Najib’s government in the past six weeks through a sedition dragnet to stifle freedom of speech and legitimate criticism and dissent – which ironically granted immunity and impunity to the extremist and intolerant elements in the country for serious violations of the law.

Najib must align his domestic policies with his international pronouncements or he would forfeit all respect and credibility, whether at home or in the international arena.

Just as Islam is not under siege internationally, it is not under siege in Malaysia, and those who use the name of Islam to justify extremist and intolerant outbursts and actions must be contained, not only internationally, but also nationally.

Two things Najib should do to align his domestic policies with his international pronouncements on moderation and the Global Movement of Moderates are:

  1. to end the “white terror” spree in the past six weeks through malicious and selective prosecution and investigation under the Sedition Act, drop all Sedition charges, and empower the Global Movement of Moderates to launch national and international initiatives to promote moderation and reject all forms of violence and extremism in the face of the ISIS threat; and
  2. move a motion when Parliament meets on Oct 7 to condemn in unambiguous and unconditional terms the extremism, violence and barbarism of ISIS.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah