As A Largely Muslim Nation, Malaysia Finds Itself In Unique Battle Against Terrorism

With one of the largest Muslim populations, Malaysia finds itself in a particularly uncomfortable position trying to fight terrorism without alienating its own people. But recent events in Paris is helping to harden the country’s approach to batting ISIS and other terror groups.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon have mobilized the armed forces after reports of Islamic State’s movements in Malaysia and they also have strengthened ties with the US.

In fact, it was a leader in its role as chairman of ASEAN, the Association of South East Asian Nations, to sign a joint declaration in March to strengthen regional security, especially against threats posed by terrorist organizations.

It also has formed a unique alliance with the US in fighting terrorism, reports The Diplomat.

“This is not a natural or easy position for the Muslim-majority nation to take. U.S. and Malaysian counterterrorism approaches differ in some significant ways, and aspects of American foreign policy in the Middle East – including lingering memories of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan following the September 11 attacks – remain deeply unpopular in Malaysia,” says reporter Prashanth Parameswaran.

It is has been a reluctant partner given the 30 militant elements from Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines which are believed to have pledged allegiance to ISIS in the past year.

During President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Asia, the US and Malaysia cemented plans to build a counterterrorism center, which Malysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said would be a complement to military action in fighting the “hearts and minds” battle.

“It is not only military solutions that are required to win (the fight against terrorism). But to sway the hearts and mind of people by presenting counter narratives, the authentic Islam and a true picture of Islam,” he told New Straits Online.

In addition to leading through its role as ASEAN chairman, the Muslim nation will host an international conference on deradicalization in January 2016.


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