United Nations: Muslims around the world need to unite against extremists who are using Islam as an excuse to commit violence, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has said.
Moderation is the key to winning the battle being waged for the future of Islam, the prime minister told the UN General Assembly Saturday.
"Around the world, extremism is taking lives and crushing opportunity. This affects us all; but it is one people, of one faith, who suffer most," Xinhua quoted him as saying.
"I believe the greatest threat to Muslims today comes not from the outside world, but from within," he said.
The prime minister said the conflict between Sunni and Shia threatened the lives and livelihood of millions of Muslims, from Syria and Lebanon to Iraq and Pakistan.
"Our religion -- founded on peace and premised on tolerance -- is being twisted by extremists, who are deploying false arguments to foster division and justify violence," he said.
"Across the Islamic world, extremists are wrapping their perverse agenda in religious cloth; tearing families, countries and the ummah apart," he said, referring to the collective community of Muslims.
But Muslims were not powerless to act, Razak said.
"I believe moderation in religion and the political process can stem the loss of life and liberty in the Muslim world. Behind the tragic violence, there is a battle being waged for the future of Islam."
He said that by reaffirming the commitment to moderation and solving the political problems that drive instability, "we can seize back the center ground" and marginalise the extremists.
"We should not mistake moderation for weakness," he said.
"To face those baying for violence and call instead for calm is a sign not of frailty but of strength. Muslim leaders should speak up and condemn such violence, lest their silence is mistaken for acceptance."