Kuala Lumpur: Islamic State extremism is spreading fast to Muslim-majority Malaysia, a senior leader of the ruling coalition on Monday warned after reports that several Malaysians had been fighting for the dreaded militant group in Iraq and Syria.
Liow Tiong Lai, the President of the Malaysian Chinese Conference, an important component of the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, said Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's statement that 61 Malaysians had been identified by police in Syria and Iraq for fighting for IS militants and that 10 of them have been killed is a "wake-up call".
"Thus, I earnestly appeal for a nationwide response from all (party) comrades and Malaysians to embrace moderation and reject extremism to help check the spread of the IS propaganda. The issue goes beyond politics and it is a grave concern for everyone," he said at the Malaysian Chinese Association's 66th anniversary celebrations here.
Likening religious extremism to cancer, Liow said it could be manifested in many forms in today's society.
"Unfortunately, the terrorist organisation has managed to recruit many Malaysians," he added.
Liow also cautioned that the number of Malaysians found to be involved in IS so far might be just the tip of the iceberg.
"There is definitely no room for any form of extremism, especially religious extremism in a multi-racial and multi-religious country. We absolutely cannot tolerate the rise of religious extremism. For the sake of our future generations, we cannot allow the nightmare of a theocratic country to take hold," he said.
Malaysia's population comprises eight per cent ethnic Indians and 25 per cent ethnic Chinese. The majority population of 60 per cent are Malays.