Indian, Malaysian Leaders Discuss De-Radicalization Efforts

Akash Vashishtha
New Delhi
170404-IN-indo-malaysia-620.jpg Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (center) greets Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Razak’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, at The President’s House in New Delhi, April 1, 2017.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday wrapped up a six-day visit to India that signaled the beginning of bilateral cooperation in countering terrorism and efforts to improve de-radicalization efforts in the region, analysts said.

During Najib’s trip, India and Malaysia signed 31 economic pacts valued at about U.S. $36 billion (2.3 trillion rupee or 159 billion ringgit) and that cover sectors ranging from security to construction, education and medicine.

But a memorandum of understanding on promoting de-radicalization in combating terrorism and a regional threat posed by Islamic State was high on the agenda. Home to the world’s third-largest Muslim population, India is among the top 10 countries most affected by terrorism, according the latest Global Terrorism Index (GTI), an annual report released by the Australia-based think-tank Institute for Economics and Peace.

“India can learn how to encourage modernization tendencies in Islam – something that is supported by the Malaysian government. There is a very moderate version of Islam in Malaysia and the two countries can work together in studying the cultures and tenets of Islam,” Rajiv Kumar of the New Delhi-based Center of Policy Research told BenarNews.

“The issue of radicalization affects both countries. This kind of cooperation is important and both must learn from each other,” Kumar said, referring to reports of extremists attempting to radicalize Muslim youths via online platforms.

Najib and his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, agreed following a one-on-one meeting over the weekend that relations were at a “historic high,” according to Najib’s latest blog post.

India and Malaysia reaffirmed their commitment to “fight any form of terrorism and extremism,” Najib wrote.


Modi was “particularly interested in Malaysia’s de- radicalization program and we are more than happy to share our knowledge and experience with India,” Najib said.

Malaysia is home to about 19.5 million Muslims that make up more than 60 percent of its population. India, on the other hand, has about 180 million Muslims, which represent more than 14 percent of the country’s 1.25 billion people.

Authorities in Malaysia have long warned of a threat from IS recruiting local youths into its ranks through social media platforms. Over the years scores of young Malaysians have traveled abroad to join IS and, since 2013, Malaysian authorities have arrested nearly 300 people on suspicion of having links to the Middle East-based terror group.

“We believe defense and strategic partnership will be very important for us to fight global terrorism, militancy, extremism and that includes our fight against IS (Islamic State) and against any form of extremism and for this we will enhance our cooperation,” Najib said in a statement following his meeting with Modi.

“If more and more countries work together, we believe we can make this world a safer place. We have very much in common between the two countries,” he said.

Modi offered similar praise for the two nations.

“To secure our societies and for the greater regional good, we have agreed to further strengthen our strategic partnership to shape an effective response to our common concerns and challenges,” Modi said.

But both countries will need to work together in taking concrete steps in combating radicalism, another expert said.

“It’s good to have [a] well-intended framework in place and expansion of several existing security and economic partnerships. India already has a reasonable partnership with Malaysia. What’s needed is further deepening of these pacts and agreements,” Praveen Jha, from the Center of Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told BenarNews.


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