Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad Monday described the September 11 tragedy as an "unmitigated disaster" for Muslims all over the world, throwing their image from bad to worse.
"Unless we are able to turn the present worldwide anger over the terrorist attacks of September 11 into a real campaign aganist all terrorists irrespective of their religious faiths, we are going to find that Muslim bashing will be heightened and our struggle to alleviate the sufferings of hundreds of millions of oppressed Muslims will fail," Mahathir told the special session of foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Conference here.
The three-day special session, attended by 52 of the 57 OIC member countries, is being convened as the Muslim world's efforts towards addressing terrorism came to the fore following the deadly September 11 attacks in New York and Washington and the deteriorating situation in West Asia.
The September 11 attacks on the U.S., the human bomb attacks by the Palestinians and the Tamil Tigers, the attacks against civilians by Israeli forces, the killings of Bosnian Muslims and others must be considered as acts of terror and the perpetrators must be condemned as terrorists, he said.
"And anyone supporting them must be considered as terrorists. Where states are behind the acts of terrorism, the whole government must stand condemned," he said.
On the other hand, Mahathir said, no race or religion should be condemned or discriminated against simply because people of the same race of their co-religionists had been involved in terrorist activities.
He said efforts must be made to find ways and means to prevent as much as possible the tendency of certain people or governments to resort to terrorism including by identifying and removing the causes of their bitterness and anger.
"I don't think people would want to blast themselves to death simply because they enjoy doing so. These are acts of the desperate, acts of people who see no way to redress their grievances, to alleviate their sufferings," he said.
He said the disparities between the rich and the poor as well as the strong and the weak could also lead to acts of terror.
"The world must address these injustices more seriously than just preaching the values of tolerance and understanding while ignoring the adverse results of these virtues," he said.
The meeting is expected to come up with the Kuala Lumpur Declaration outlining, among others, the definition, root causes and measures to stem the scourge.