- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2002

From combined dispatches
NEW YORK The prime minister of Malaysia yesterday lashed out at Muslim extremists, saying that many were distorting Islam to legitimize their political creed, greed and ambition.
Mahathir Mohamad told the World Economic Forum that violent Islamic groups were actually making it more difficult for Islamic nations such as his own to develop, as well as distorting religion for their own personal goals.
"If today Islam is perceived to be a religion of backward, violent and irrational people, it is not because of Islam itself as a faith and a way of life," he said.
"It is because Muslims have deviated from the fundamentals of Islam and have abused the teachings in order to justify their personal greed and ambitions."
Pointing to Malaysia as a nation that had embraced modernity, Mr. Mahathir said that the country had succeeded in becoming a modern state because of Islam, not despite it.
But he said that fighting against continual sniping and hate campaigns from Muslim groups absorbed huge amounts of government time and ultimately delayed development.
"In Malaysia, the government that I lead is labeled secular and un-Islamic by the opposition hatred for the so-called secular government is fostered from the kindergarten onward," he said.
"But deviant Muslims still insist that Malaysia is un-Islamic and the government must be overthrown by violence, if need be."
The FBI said last week that militant groups in Malaysia provided a base from which terrorists planned the September 11 attacks on the United States a claim rejected by Malaysian officials.
Elsewhere at the forum, global leaders heard a blunt warning yesterday that corporations and international organizations must become more accountable or they will face mounting challenges from ordinary people and poor nations.
U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson told business and political leaders that they face a key challenge empowering the common citizen in the globalization process.
"We need to move toward a more ethical globalization and find a way to have civic democracy on an international level," she said.
Referring to the recent collapse of Enron, Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey said the fall of the major energy trading giant raised fundamental questions about honesty and accountability within capitalism.
"There's a big question mark over capitalism today. It's one word, and it's Enron," he said. "And what is that challenge? Capitalism has to act within boundaries," he said.
Thousands of anti-globalization demonstrators demanding that corporations be punished for "greed and exploitation" rallied in the streets this weekend near the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, where leaders are barricaded behind rows of police officers guarding the high-powered talkfest.
But unlike at last year's forum held in Davos, Switzerland, protesters refrained from rioting to make their point.
This year's meeting is being held just three miles north of the debris of the World Trade Center towers destroyed in the September 11 attacks, and the protests have been largely peaceful.


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