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Malaysian PM asks Muslims to become tolerant

September 07, 2009 14:40 IST

In the wake of protests by Muslims against the relocation of a 100-year-old Hindu temple to their neighbourhood, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Monday asked them to learn the lessons of religious tolerance and mutual respect as taught by the Quran.

He said the teachings would in turn win Muslims the respect of those of other faiths and backgrounds.

"Islam was brought to the world as a universal religion, which called on its followers not to hate people of any race or faith, especially if it could cause the latter to be treated unfairly," he told staff of the prime minister's department at its monthly gathering on Monday.

The prime minister's comments come in the wake of a group of Muslims protesting against the relocation of the Hindu temple to their neighbourhood. The protests sparked controversy when some of the participants engaged in an activity that hurt the sentiments of Hindus.

Razak said it was important for Muslims in the country to look into the teachings closely as they observed the religious requirements during the holy month of Ramadan and also celebrated the Nuzul Al-Quran, when the Quran was passed down to man.

"Islam is a religion for all and it enforces a universal concept that looks out for races while also teaching us not to criticise other religions because this will only cause others to criticise us even more," he was quoted as saying by online daily Star.

Most of Malaysia's population follows Islam apart from an eight percent ethnic Indian population and 25 percent ethnic Chinese. Other races have full freedom to observe their religions.

Najib also called on those present to learn the lessons of the necessity of change that the month of Ramadan, the Quran and also Malaysia's independence had to teach.

"Today is a unique day because we celebrate Nuzul Al-Quran and are in the month of Ramadan, and both brought so much change to Muslims by delivering them from the dark times into the light.

"We are also still in the spirit of Merdeka (independence) which brought a huge change to our country. Change is therefore not something new as it something that is even taught by Islam and (if we embrace it) can help bring success to our country," he said.

"So let us look at how we can bring the change necessary to transform our country once again," he said.
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