- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Islam rejects killings

Islam condemns the beheadings of hostages and suicide bombings against civilians, the foreign minister of Malaysia said yesterday.

“We deplore the beheadings. This is against the teachings of Islam,” Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said at the Malaysian Embassy.

He said the latest beheading of a South Korean man by Iraqi terrorists reinforces the impression that Muslims justify the killing of innocent civilians.

“People tend to associate terrorism with Islam,” Mr. Hamid said. “We do not want people to hijack Islam.”

Asked whether his condemnation of the beheadings also applies to Palestinian suicide bombing attacks against Israelis, Mr. Hamid said, “We are against the killing of civilians. … There is nothing in Islam that permits suicide bombings.”

However, he added, “Let us look at the overall situation.”

Mr. Hamid referred to a “sense of despair, a sense of hopelessness” among Palestinians and condemned Israeli assassinations of militant leaders.

“The extrajudicial killings by Israelis are not acceptable by civilized nations,” he said.

Mr. Hamid, leading a delegation from the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), discussed Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian dispute with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

Mr. Hamid described the meeting with Mr. Powell as a “very constructive interaction, not in a voice of confrontation.”

He said his delegation’s mission was to show support for the Palestinians and urge the United States to take a more balanced position in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute.

“We want the United States to act as an honest broker to see the birth of a Palestinian state,” Mr. Hamid said. “We are not asking the United States to cease being pro-Israeli, just for better treatment of the Palestinians.”

He noted the importance of the OIC’s willingness to support a two-state solution in the Middle East with Israel “living side by side in peace and security” with a Palestinian state. Fewer than half of the OIC members have diplomatic relations with Israel, the Israeli government said.

“We hope we are consulted” on future efforts to renew negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, he said.

“Our views must be heard. We are 56 states,” he added. “We were satisfied that we were able to express our view to Secretary Powell.”

Mr. Hamid was pleased with the appointment of veteran U.S. diplomat John D. Negroponte as ambassador to Iraq.

“This means that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq is recognized,” he said.

Shooting drug planes

The United States and Brazil are working on the final points of an agreement on ways to shoot down planes suspected of smuggling drugs, said the U.S. ambassador there.

“Although there is no final agreement yet, we are very close to one,” Ambassador Donna Hrinak said in the capital, Brasilia.

Although she did not discuss specifics, the ambassador said the United States wants to make sure that any rules that Brazil adopts contain safeguards against accidentally downing an innocent pilot.

“I think we have had such good consultations, so complete, that we have a pretty good idea of how Brazil’s law will be and that the possibilities [of accidents] are minimal,” she said.

However, the United States could not offer its cooperation if Brazil approves a law that fails to meet U.S. standards.

“We cannot help with information or equipment a country [which has] a law that does not take sufficient precautions to ensure the safety of commercial planes,” she said.

“We have had good talks. We still did not reach a complete definition, but we are close.”

call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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