Transcript: Speech at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia

Prime Minister David Cameron delivers speech at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government
The Rt Hon David Cameron

Prime Minister Najib

That is why the Movement of the Moderates is so important because underpinning the fight against global terrorism - by the way, I am against the idea or notion of calling it a war against global terrorism because a war connotes just using military might. You really can’t put down extremism, fanaticism and global terrorism just by using military might. You have to tackle it where it is important: it is in the minds of the people. You have to tell to them what is right and what is wrong. And if they understand that Islam stands for life; Islam is against killing oneself; Islam is an inherently, fundamentally moderate religion in the sense that Islam rejects extremism. Islam respects other religions and other faiths, for example, Prophet Muhammad, during his lifetime there was a funeral of a Jew passing by him and he stood up to give respect. His friends, asked him, ‘Prophet, why did you do it?’ And his response was, ‘I am respecting him because he is another human being’. That is the true value of Islam: Islam stands for universal good values, and respecting other faiths and religion is part and parcel of Islam as well.

So that’s the message that we need to send to the world; people who believe in moderation should speak up. It’s only those who are at the extreme -the fringes - who make the loudest noises. If we do not stare them down, if we do not speak up, if we do not articulate our views, then the people on the fringes - the extremists - will occupy the centre stage. This is where we will lose out. That is why we call for the Global Movement of the Moderates, so that moderates across all faith will speak up - will articulate - and will drown out the voices of the extremists. The problem is not between Christianity and Islam; it’s not between the Muslims and the Christians; it’s between the extremists and the moderates. So if we are all together in this Global Movement of the Moderates, I believe that we have very strong, underlying philosophical basis for us to tackle global terrorism. We all want to live in a more peaceful and more secure world.

Finally, I’d like to say that the future of the world rests upon the young people; that’s why we are here. I would like to echo Prime Minister David Cameron’s idea that there is nothing more important than us relating to the young people, because as we always say, ‘You are the face of the future. If you all believe in being moderates, if you believe principally that moderation in the right path, then I think we will have a much better future for all of us.’ Thank you very much.

Prime Minister

Thank you, Prime Minister Najib. Ladies and gentlemen, as-salamu alaykum. Thank you for inviting me to join you today, and thank you for speaking about our shared interests, our shared values, our shared history.

Prime Minister, ever since your visit to London and your speech in Oxford last year, I’ve been keen to share a platform with you on the Global Movement of Moderates. So I’m very pleased to do so as part of my visit to Malaysia today. We are here to discuss something that we feel very strongly about as your powerful speech just now has demonstrated. I think it’s great that we’re able to do this at the Nottingham University campus here in Malaysia; the first full campus of a British university overseas. A really pioneering partnership that sees the full breadth of the academic study and research here in Malaysia. It represents the best of British and the best of Malaysia. I’m very proud to be here today.

I know, Prime Minister, that developing this campus has long been an urge of yours when you were Education Minister. So I’m grateful to you, Prime Minister Najib, for your vision and your support over many years in helping to bring this about.

Now of course, there are many huge challenges facing our world that we could discuss today: tackling climate change; securing sustainable economic growth; how we cope with the aftermath of the financial crisis. But one of the biggest challenges of all is how we tackle the rise of Islamist extremism: young men who follow a completely perverse, warped interpretation of Islam who are prepared to blow themselves up and kill their fellow citizens in the process.

And that extremism is what I want to talk about today. We need to be, as you were, sir, absolutely clear about the nature of the threat we face in order to address it correctly. So let me first be absolutely clear what I’m not saying. I’m not saying that terrorism is linked exclusively to any one religion or ethnic group. It is not. In Britain, in my country for example, we still face threats from dissident groups, terrorist groups in Northern Ireland. And I’m also not suggesting that Islam is the same as Islamist extremism. It is not: they are completely different and we should be absolutely clear on this point.

Islam is a religion of peace observed devoutly by over a billion people across the world. Islamist extremism is a warped political ideology. It is vital that we make this distinction between religion on the one hand and an extremist political ideology on the other. Because time and again, too many people equate the two. They think whether someone is an extremist is dependent on how much they observe their religion. So, they talk about moderate Muslims as if all devout Muslims must be extremist. This is profoundly wrong. You can be a devout, faithful Muslim and not be an extremist. And the idea that extremism means passion whereas moderation is for those weak in their faith, is also a dangerous myth. We need to be absolutely clear. Religion and political ideology are not the same thing. The real divide, as you said Prime Minister, is not between East and West or between the developed or developing worlds or between Muslims and non-Muslims, the real divide is between political moderates and political extremists.

Published 13 April 2012