Malaysian political leader to host Islamic conference in wake of PM’s controversial summit

Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim. (AP/File)
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Updated 07 January 2020

Malaysian political leader to host Islamic conference in wake of PM’s controversial summit

  • The event is expected to include celebrity Muslim scholars

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian politician Anwar Ibrahim is to host an international conference aimed at tackling global challenges faced by Muslims.

This week’s meeting comes in the wake of Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s controversial Kuala Lumpur Summit in December, which was criticized by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) over its list of invitees.

Anwar, who is president of the People’s Justice Party, along with his politician daughter, Nurul Izzah, will gather together a high-profile panel of global Islamic experts for the Unity in Diversity (UID) Conference 2020 being held in the capital on Jan. 8.

News portal Free Malaysia Today said that the event would include “celebrity Muslim scholars” that were “theologically aligned.”

Speakers are expected to include American Muslim scholar Omar Suleiman, the founder of a Texas-based Islamic think tank, Nuruddin Lemu, the son of Nigerian Grand Mufti Ahmed Lemu, and Yasir Qadhi, a Saudi-educated Pakistani American scholar.

A spokesperson for the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) and the Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) said the idea for the conference first came about in July last year when Anwar had met with Suleiman while they were both performing Hajj, adding that it was “mischievous” to suggest it had been staged as a follow-up rival to Mahathir’s gathering.

Ali Salman, CEO of the Islam and Liberty Network Foundation, told Arab News that Anwar’s UID conference could not be compared to the Kuala Lumpur Summit because the level of engagement with world leaders was quite different.

He said both events “should be taken only as a start, as large parts of the Muslim community still live under conditions of authoritarianism, poverty and bigotry.”

Anwar has been widely tipped to succeed Mahathir as PM of Malaysia, but no date has been set for any transition of power.

“In any event, the domestic political struggle in Malaysia should not overshadow larger questions and issues faced by the Muslim world,” Salman added.

Prof. James Chin, an Australia-based Malaysia expert and director at the Asia Institute, told Arab News that the UID conference would likely be of little significance to the Islamic world.

“This conference consists of people friendly to the leadership of the Islamic world in contrast to the KL Kuala Lumpur Summit. Outside the Islamic world, it will have little appeal to the rest of the world.

“Of course, Anwar will be the main beneficiary of this event as he will reinforce his international brand as a progressive Islamic leader,” Chin added.


Interpol warns of ‘alarming’ cybercrime rate during pandemic

Updated 4 min 42 sec ago

Interpol warns of ‘alarming’ cybercrime rate during pandemic

  • Cybercriminals are increasingly using disruptive malware against critical infrastructure and health care institutions
  • There was also an increase in the spread of fake news and misinformation which sometimes itself conceals malware

LYON: Global police body Interpol warned Monday of an “alarming” rate of cybercrime during the coronavirus pandemic, with criminals taking advantage of people working from home to target major institutions.
An assessment by the Lyon-based organization found a “significant target shift” by criminals from individuals and small businesses to major corporations, governments and critical infrastructure.
“Cybercriminals are developing and boosting their attacks at an alarming pace, exploiting the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable social and economic situation created by COVID-19,” said Interpol Secretary General Juergen Stock.
“The increased online dependency for people around the world is also creating new opportunities, with many businesses and individuals not ensuring their cyberdefenses are up to date,” he added.
The report said cybercriminals were sending COVID-19 themed phishing emails — which seek to obtain confidential data from users — often impersonating government and health authorities.
Cybercriminals are increasingly using disruptive malware against critical infrastructure and health care institutions, it added.
In the first two weeks of April 2020, there was a rise in ramsomware attacks, in which users have to pay money to get their computer to work again.
There was also an increase in the spread of fake news and misinformation which sometimes itself conceals malware, said Interpol.
From January to April, some 907,000 spam messages, 737 incidents related to malware and 48,000 malicious URLs — all related to COVID-19 were detected by one of Interpol’s private sector partners, it said.
The agency warned the trend was set to continue and a “further increase in cybercrime is highly likely in the near future.”
“Vulnerabilities related to working from home and the potential for increased financial benefit will see cybercriminals continue to ramp up their activities and develop more advanced and sophisticated” methods, it said.
Once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, Interpol said, “it is highly probable that there will be another spike in phishing related to these medical products as well as network intrusion and cyberattacks to steal data.”