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Are Malaysia and Turkey on a challenging quest to unite the Muslim world?

Malaysia leading efforts to unite the Muslim world

In recent years, Malaysia has been trying to increase its engagement and cooperation with the Muslim world. We saw many signals of this in 2019, as the nation significantly strengthened relations with Pakistan, as well as Iran and several other Muslim nations in Asia.

Furthermore, Malaysia has been vocal on the oppression of Muslim minorities, namely, the Uighurs in China and the Rohingya in Myanmar. After a call for a Muslim summit currently taking place in Malaysia, coming after many calls by Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohammad for the Muslim world to come together, many believe that Malaysia is trying to unite the Muslim world, and consequently increase their say in world politics. Can Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad bring together a divided Muslim world riven by conflict, oppression and under-development? That’s the question observers will ask as Islamic world leaders and representatives convene in Kuala Lumpur for a four-day summit chaired by the outspoken 94-year-old Malaysian leader. “Islam, the Muslims and their countries are in a state of crisis, helpless and unworthy of this great religion which is meant to be good for mankind,” said Mahathir in his opening address to the summit, at which he said Muslim nations had “lost the respect of the world” due to rampant terrorism and disrespect for human rights.

In addition to this, Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said foreign direct investment (FDI) within Muslim economies would stimulate wealth creation of Muslim economies. He said this could be done even as these states continued their current efforts to promote FDIs and trade with other members of the international community. “There is a lot we can benefit from if we increase trade among Muslim countries. This allows us to correct the imbalances in supply and demand among Muslim countries. The demand may be high but we lack the ability to produce the products. We have a huge human capital who are talented and are skilled workers which can be leveraged on.” Malaysia appears to be trying to unite the Muslim world for some sort of economic revival, but as point 3 will illustrate, this will not be easy.

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