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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 February 2006, 09:05 GMT
Iran's ex-leader sees new Islam
By Jonathan Kent
BBC News, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi listens to Mr Khatami via an interpreter
The meeting promotes dialogue between Islam and the West
The former Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami, has told a conference that the Muslim world is ready for a major transformation.

He said that it was time to create a new world where Islam is applied in a manner compatible with freedom, progress and democracy.

The gathering in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, was to promote dialogue between Western and Islamic thinkers.

Mr Khatami blamed the West for fuelling Islamic radicalism.

At the meeting, entitled "Who Speaks for Islam? Who Speaks for the West?", he called the West self-centred and determined to see the entire world adopt its values.

He accused some countries of promoting Islamaphobia for their own strategic ends.

'Major transformation'

But he also deplored violence and extremism in parts of the Islamic world - something Mr Khatami said stemmed from their backwardness and a feeling of humiliation, making understanding and compromise all the more difficult.

But his speech also had a strong note of optimism.

Backward thoughts that are incompatible with Islam have no place in the Islamic world or in the current world at all
Former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami

Mr Khatami said that after centuries of struggle between Islamic traditionalists and modernisers, he believes Muslims are ready for a major transformation in their minds and lives.

He spoke of Muslim societies embracing freedom, progress and democracy, and helping to create a calm and secure world for all.

Earlier, the Malaysian prime minister opened the conference with a warning that a huge chasm was emerging between the West and Islam.

Abdullah Badawi said that Islam had wrongly been demonised in the West, but he also told Muslims that they had to make education, development, science and technology their priorities.





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