June 23, 2005


Malaysia works to sell Islam on trade benefits (Wayne Arnold, 6/23/05, The New York Times)

Now run by [Mahathir bin Mohamad's] more diplomatic successor, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Malaysia's government is pushing Mahathir's message through the Islamic conference itself by shifting the group's traditionally political focus to the promotion of trade and finance as a means of achieving prosperity for its 57 members. The OIC, as the conference is known, is the world's largest Islamic organization.

In the Malaysian capital, the government is using the 30th meeting of the OIC's Islamic Development Bank to push an agenda that would give the organization a more direct role in economic integration and development.

"It is economic strength which can give the OIC greater clout and secure for itself a more influential voice in international affairs," Abdullah told delegates to a two-day OIC trade forum.

Among Malaysia's proposals are the creation of an $11 billion infrastructure fund, a master plan for developing financial services in the Muslim world and the creation of a pan-Islamic trading bloc. If approved, Malaysia's initiatives could mark an important juncture in the life of the OIC, whose members, ranging from oil-rich Qatar to war-devastated Sierra Leone, have little in common but religious faith.

In some ways, Malaysia appears to want the OIC to make the same transition that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations made a generation ago, shifting from an organization based on shared diplomatic interests into an agent for promoting development through trade and investment.

"The OIC has really been quite a political organization, but more and more the feeling is that the emphasis should be more on economic issues and economic integration," said Nor Mohamed Yakcop, Malaysia's top finance ministry official after Abdullah, and who is also finance minister, in an interview.

Nothing would transform their politics like economic development.

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 23, 2005 7:41 AM

The poverty helps keep them ignorant and thereby easily deflected by demagoguery. The notion that the Islamic states would voluntarily change this arrangement any more than medieval princelings in pre-Reformation Europe did is laughable.

Posted by: bart at June 23, 2005 8:49 AM

Yet the Church created capitalism.

Posted by: oj at June 23, 2005 8:59 AM

Educated prosperous muslims are AQ's best recruits.

Posted by: AML at June 23, 2005 9:14 AM


The class of semi-educated lounge lizards among Arab parvenus is the recruiting base of Al-Qaeda. They are essentially a bunch of Jethro Bodines.

Posted by: bart at June 23, 2005 9:16 AM

jethro al bodine; too funny. when i was at university, the arab students to a man would cheat like crazy during tests. no one seemed to mind since it was assumed that none of them would be seeking jobs after graduation.

Posted by: cjm at June 23, 2005 10:56 AM

At one time, Islam was the most economically developed part of the world, but that did not have any noticeable good effect on its politics.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at June 25, 2005 12:53 AM

No, it wasn't. It was the wealthiest.

Posted by: oj at June 25, 2005 7:45 AM