Malaysia's Muslim prime minister broke new ground in national race relations yesterday, appearing for the first time at a Christian gathering to dismiss the notion that his country was governed as an Islamic state. \nIn an emotional speech, which followed a moving Christian prayer for his cancer-stricken wife, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wiped away tears in front of dozens of priests and nuns as he appealed for religious dialogue and moderation. \n"As prime minister of Malaysia, I am not a leader of Muslims but a Muslim leader of all Malaysians," the former Islamic scholar told a conference of the World Council of Churches (WCC), an umbrella group of most Christian denominations. \n"Therefore I have a responsibility not just to my fellow Muslims, but also to Malaysians who profess other religions as well," he said before finishing his speech with a call for religious unity and quoting from the Bible. \nAbdullah took the leadership of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference last year and has tried to galvanize a group speaking for a fifth of humanity into more effective positions on Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. \nBut at home he runs a secular government ruling over a population where Muslims are a slim majority and the state religion is Islam. Almost half the population, with big ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, follow other faiths or beliefs. \n"I do not want to claim that there are no problems among the different ethnic and religious communities in Malaysia," he said. \n"There are still very many things that we need to work on, but if the world ever needed a lesson in diversity and making it work, I am confident Malaysia can be a showcase," he said. \nWhen asked after his speech why he had shed a tear, the prime minister said his mind had turned to all the suffering in the world. \nBut it was clear the prayer for his wife, led by a Malaysian bishop, had moved him before he rose to speak. \nAbdullah's wife has been undergoing breast cancer treatment in the US.
PAST TACTICS: In what some see as a return to hardline strategies, the new Afghan rulers hanged the body of an alleged kidnapper from a crane as warning to criminals The Taliban hanged a dead body from a crane parked in a city square in Afghanistan on Saturday in a gruesome display that signaled the hardline movement’s return to some of its brutal tactics of the past. Taliban officials initially brought four bodies to the central square in the western city of Herat, then moved three of them to other parts of the city for public display, said Wazir Ahmad Seddiqi, who runs a pharmacy on the edge of the square. Taliban officials announced that the four were caught taking part in a kidnapping earlier on Saturday and were killed by police,
Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, reached out to South Korea for a second time in recent days, saying Pyongyang would consider taking part in another inter-Korean summit and declaring an end to the war if Seoul adopts a less hostile policy. “I felt that the atmosphere of the South Korean public desiring to recover the inter-Korean relations from a deadlock and achieve peaceful stability as soon as possible is irresistibly strong,” Kim Yo-jong said in a statement issued by the official Korean Central News Agency. “We, too, have the same desire.” Kim’s statement follows one she
A potential lurch to the left in Germany’s election on Sunday is scaring millionaires into moving assets into Switzerland, bankers and tax lawyers say. If the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), hard-left Linke and environmentalist Greens come to power, the reintroduction of a wealth tax and a tightening of inheritance tax could be on the political agenda. “For the super-rich, this is red hot,” said a German-based tax lawyer with extensive Swiss operations. “Entrepreneurial families are highly alarmed.” The move shows how many rich people still see Switzerland as an attractive place to park wealth, despite its efforts to abolish its image as a
‘SMOKESCREEN’: An agreement to declare an end to the Korean War would be ‘of no help at all’ and used to cover up ‘US hostile policy,’ a North Korean official said The influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un yesterday said it was “admirable” of South Korea to propose a formal end to the Korean War, but demanded Seoul first drop its “hostile policies” towards Pyongyang. Kim Yo-jong’s remarks, carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency, were in response to South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s recent calls for declaring an official end to the 1950-1953 conflict that ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, leaving the two sides technically at war for more than half a century. In a speech at the UN General Assembly earlier this week, Moon proposed