Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Palestine as political hobbyhorse in Malaysia

Premier Najib Razak's rally cry against Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel is more about local politics than genuine Islamic outrage

Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak addressed friend and foe alike at a recent mass demonstration in support of Palestine held in Putrajaya, the country’s administrative capital.

The rally followed weeks of protests across various major international cities in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

More than ten thousand gathered at the pink-domed Putra Mosque for the Friday rally, which began with prayers and a sermon that lambasted Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and called on Muslims to support Palestinian self-determination and defend Jerusalem, the third holiest site in Islam.

Najib, who has long taken an activist stance on the Palestinian cause, urged all Malaysians to put aside their political differences to join the rally on humanitarian grounds.

He shared the stage with members of Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), an Islamist opposition party that supports the imposition of Islamic law, while leaders from Malay-dominant parties of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) opposition coalition were also in attendance.

Najib, who was warmly received at the White House in September amid an ongoing US Department of Justice money-laundering probe into a Malaysian state fund he created and oversaw, has been criticized for his professed closeness to the divisive American leader.

Read the full story at Asia Times.

Nile Bowie is a writer and journalist with the Asia Times covering current affairs in Singapore and Malaysia. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.