PM to meet religious leaders during Interfaith Week

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PUTRAJAYA: For the first time, Malaysia will celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week on Monday as put forward by the United Nations (UN) with various programmes prepared, including a meet-and-greet session with the Prime Minister and religious leaders here.

National Unity and Integration Department director-general Datuk Azman Amin Hassan said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s participation demonstrated his commitment towards resolving religious issues in the country and preserving the well being of Malaysia’s multi-racial community.“The Committee for the Promotion of Inter-religious Understanding and Harmony has also agreed on this celebration, which it says signifies the Government’s concerns on religious matters.“This is also in line with Najib’s hopes expressed at the UN, in which he said he did not want any extremist or militant groups to threaten unity and security in Malaysia,” he said in an exclusive interview on the programme here.

World Interfaith Harmony Week, a brainchild of the King of Jordan Abdullah II and his personal envoy and special adviser Prince Ghazi Muhammad, that was presented at the 65th UN General Assembly in New York last year, has been slated to be an annual celebration in the first week of February in all member countries.

The celebration also hopes to increase multi-racial cooperation and harmony worldwide following the misunderstanding on Islam and terrorism after the Sept 11 attacks in 2001 – Azman said Najib will address religious leaders and followers to preserve harmony among Malaysia’s varied cultures and religions.

He is also scheduled to present letters of appointment to members of the Committee for the Promotion of Inter-religious Understanding and Harmony.

Although the UN proposed for celebrations to be carried out in the first week of February, Azman said Malaysia had already started various programmes since early this year, which would be held until the end of this month.
Among the activities include a muzakarah (discussion) with muftis (Islamic religious leaders) from each state and prominent Muslim figures organised by the Islamic Development Institute.
Other activities would include the dissemination of religious harmony and muhibbah (goodwill) messages at prayer houses.

Azman said that religious leaders could help pacify conflicts and tension faced by any race or religion before they escalated into something more serious.
Commenting on unity in Malaysia, Azman said the situation was good with solutions found for most of the issues raised. Other countries celebrating World Interfaith Harmony Week include Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia, Philippines, the United States and Germany. — Bernama