Malaysia rejects Islamic extremism

Good news from Malaysia.

The Malaysian voters have rejected the Islamic extremism and handed a sound defeat to the fundamentalist political parties. Those who claim that Islamic countries are not suitable for democracy should pay attention. The message is clear – if religious parties do not moderate down their parochial agenda once are in power, they will lose the faith of the mainstream voters.

The results are a sign Malaysian voters did not buy PAS’ ‘votes-for-heaven’ line – that only its backers would merit a place in paradise.

Instead, they appeared to prefer the more moderate Islam Hadhari, or progressive Islam, of Datuk Seri Abdullah, who had identified the role of religion in Malaysian society as a key issue in the election.

Voters also signalled their backing for the new PM’s moves to fight corruption, improve the civil service, and keep the economy buzzing.[Straits Times]

Instead of kow-towing to bullying by Sheikhs and Emirs, the US and the international community would do well to strengthen democratic institutions in middle east. Even if the voters are initially seduced by fundamentalist promises, it is these institutions that enable to them to end their experiments with extremism. As Jeff Ooi says, the Islamic party waited for 40 years to come to power, but lost it in just four.