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August 17, 2017

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War on terror increases hostility: Abdullah

Malaysia's prime minister says an increase in discrimination against Muslims since the start of the U.S.-led war on terror has fueled hostility between Islam and the West and incited religious extremism, a news report said Friday.

"It is indeed a tragedy that after Sept. 11 ... the profiling of Muslims is gaining ground," national news agency Bernama quoted Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi as saying at a conference late Thursday.

"'Islamophobia,' like an infectious disease, is rapidly influencing official policy and in turn evoking reactive extremism," Abdullah told the meeting of leaders from developing nations on the northern resort island of Langkawi, according to the agency.

Abdullah said the war against terrorism "should not be allowed to escalate into a clash of faiths and religions."

While he didn't single out the United States, Abdullah said "misunderstandings ... between Islam and the West have grown and shown little signs of abating," Bernama reported.

Malaysia, which currently chairs the 57-member Organization of the Islamic Conference, opposed the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. Nevertheless, this Southeast Asian nation has won praise from Washington for arresting more than 70 suspected members of the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror network.

Abdullah has said he won't send troops to Iraq, but would consider dispatching a medical team when the security situation improves there.

In his speech Thursday at the Langkawi International Dialogue to promote trade and economic ties between developing nations, Abdullah said the fight against terrorism will never be won unless the issue of global poverty is addressed.

"Societies mired in poverty and hopelessness provide a fertile breeding ground for such acts of extreme violence," Bernama cited him as saying.

Abdullah proposed that rich countries and western governments draw up plans to help poor countries, including Muslim nations, to reduce poverty. In return, governments that receive such assistance "should ensure proper governance and transparency" in their countries.

"We must together combine our resources to tackle the growing divide of poverty and deprivation," Abdullah said. "After all, it is such poverty and hopelessness that provides fodder to terrorism."

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