The Iranian president made the remarks in a speech at the inauguration ceremony of Kuala Lumpur 2019 Summit in the Malaysian capital.
What follows is the full text of President Rouhani’s Thursday speech:
Your Excellency Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Honourable Prime Minister of Malaysia
Esteemed Presidents and Prime Ministers
Heads of Delegates
Ladies and Gentlemen
Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
At the outset, I would like to appreciate the nation and government of Malaysia for their warm hospitality and organising this summit. Also, I would like to appreciate Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for presiding this important initiative and creating a valuable model of peaceful cultural diversity as well as taking new steps for bridging the east and the west of the Muslim world and his foresight in bringing diverse attitudes closer together.
The Muslim world is facing emerging challenges at the national and international levels which have impeded the track of development and progress. The most important such challenges include the following:
- Cultural and identity challenges
The danger of weakening national and Islamic identity, the younger generation distancing from their identity and domination of foreign cultures are the most serious threats to the Muslim world. The western pioneering in the development of new technologies has resulted in their strength in imposing and mainstreaming news, the culture of consumption and western lifestyle. Joint efforts to compensate under-development in information technology, moving towards national and regional communication networks and increasing share of Muslim states in the digital economy constitute the roadmap of our future in combatting these crises.
- Security challenges:
It is regrettable that the Muslim world, from the far western spot in North Africa to the farthest area in East Asia, is grappling with serious security threats and problems ranging from the continued threats imposed by the Zionist Regime that is killing our brothers and sisters in Palestine on a daily basis to the military, political, and economic threats by the United States against some Muslim countries, to the threat of terrorism and mental and behavioural radicalism in some Muslim societies which has paved the ground for foreign intervention. The war in Syria, Yemen, and riots and turbulences in Iraq, Lebanon, Libya and Afghanistan is the outcome of the combination of domestic extremism and foreign intervention.
- Challenges of under-development:
Maladies as weakening governance, poverty, unemployment, corruption, increasing and eroding violence and extremism have endangered national sovereignty in some parts of the Muslim world. Macro processes such as the globalisation of economy and society, emergence of new discourse in the area of democracy and human rights, increasing attention to semantic and software power, increasing access to information and progressing growth of non-state actors have added to the dimensions of this challenge. Idealistic, but realistic, policy making in the area of development is now an inevitable necessity.
- Economic challenges:
Economic sanctions have turned into the main tools of domineering hegemony and bullying. The interconnectedness of international economic, commercial and financial systems with the American economic regime and dollarization of national and global economies have provided the US with the possibility of advancing its hegemony under the threat of sanctions and economic terrorism and impose its illegitimate demands on the other nations. The Muslims world should be designing measures to save it from the domination of US dollar and the American financial regime. The fact of the matter is that Muslim states are complementary to each other in economic terms and therefore, the creation of special mechanisms for banking and financial cooperation among Muslim nations, the use of national money in mutual trade, conclusion of preferential trade agreements in the Muslim world as well as investment in areas with relative advantage and similar ideas should be thoroughly investigated by the economists and experts of Muslim states.
Distinguished colleagues and dignitaries
If we return to our national and Islamic capacity and rely on our own domestic power and strength, we would be able to convert all the above-mentioned challenges to an opportunity of growth and promotion. I consider the following capacity as the main components of power in the Muslim world:
- Islam is the central component of identity among us as Muslims. Islam is both a source and destination as well as path and track. The divine will has been based on the foundation that Muslims, following the model and role presented by our holy Prophet, should be adopting and promoting moderation so as to act as a role model for the whole world: “And we have made you a moderate nation to the witness of people and the Prophet will witness you”.
- People are the main source of power. Democracy, when coupled with faith in religion, would culminate in people and Muslim Ummah being mobilised. The spread of social justice, political and cultural security, the right to enjoyment of a decent life and good governance are the main essentials of Islamic concepts and teachings as well as the main reasons for people’s alignment.
- Science and technology are the key to power and development. Knowledge is power. Whoever finds it, will be victorious. It is the matter of regret that Muslim countries have no alternative at the moment but to resort and refer to others to supply their scientific and technological needs. Our young generation are undying source of creativity and hope, and the movement of education, research and innovation is the priority of the Muslim world’s today and tomorrow.
- Cooperation and interaction among Muslim nations is an unreplaceable principle. Consolidation of political and economic capacities could turn the Muslim world into a powerful bloc in international relations. The accumulation of scientific and technological capacities of Muslim countries can compensate many of the present time underdevelopments and eliminate grounds for the imposition of hegemony by the others. The standing mechanisms and institutions of the Muslims world, which have been designed for this purpose, have regrettably failed to accomplish its noble goals and purposes.
When I talk about hope towards confronting the challenges and problems of the Muslim world, I mean to present the success story of the Islamic Republic of Iran. My country for the past four decades has been facing all sorts of threats and conspiracies, but it has managed to overcome successfully any threat or challenge and has gained more strength and experience in a manner that we are now recognised in the world as a model of resilience and steadfastness. After its Islamic Revolution, Iran has overcome three main powerful waves of threats:
- Terrorism: Since the beginning of the 1980s, my county has been confronting the scourge of terrorism inside and outside of its soil. I am confident enough to say that the people of Iran have been at the forefront of the fight against terrorism and have attained the highest success in confronting it.
- War: Eight years of resistance in the extensive war imposed on Iran incurred heavy material and human costs on our nation. However, it made my country self-sufficient in defence, and today, such indigenous capability guarantees Iran’s defensive deterrence.
- Sanctions: The Islamic Republic of Iran has been under oppressive sanctions of the United States of America. Recently, they were seeking the collapse or surrender of the Islamic establishment through the imposition of the heaviest sanctions or so-called crippling sanctions. While only since 8 May 2018, when the US withdrew from the nuclear deal, more than 93 sanctions measures have been imposed against Iran, today the Iranian economy has recovered properly and economic indices are improving. Under such circumstances, economic reforms are underway and the current budget of the country now being reviewed by the parliament is totally independent from oil.
Our reliance on God, enjoyment of Islamic principles and values, contribution of peoples, development of domestic capabilities and ultimately attention to science and technology are the key to success of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I firmly believe that such a success story and model could be transferred to the Muslim world.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I deem it necessary to refer to the issue of Palestine now. Palestine and resistance against the occupation of the Zionist Regime remains the main issue of the Muslim world. Any ignorance and lack of attention to the issue of Palestine, while highlighting sideline and divisive issues world be a big deviation. Palestine has chosen the path of resistance and in this regard, Palestinians are benefitting from the support of Muslim nations.
Numerous crises in the Middle East, especially in Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Lebanon are clear examples of irresponsible and divisive policies. In order to resolve the internal problems of the Muslim world, we believe we need to provide necessary grounds for dialogue and engagement through tolerance of various Islamic schools of thought and respect to national sovereignty of all nations.