Terrorism must be tackled with justice and fair play
In advocating this, Iranian Dr Moojan Momen, who has lived in Britain since 1959 and is of the Bahai faith, says softly and without even a hint of rancour: "We cannot carry on as now, where richer, more powerful nations get their way the whole time and impose their will on weaker nations."
It was necessary to move to a system with strong international institutions. The United Nations was never given the power, resources and mandate for its institutions such as the International Court of Justice and the Court of Arbitration to operate effectively.
Only if these institutions are strong will people feel confident they can get justice and the frustration and anger will disappear.
He felt only half-hearted attempts had been made so far to address the injustice and unfairness.
There were whole populations seeing themselves as victims of injustice, were oppressed and kept in poverty while others were getting rich. Frustrations invariably boil over into violence, be it in terms of civil commotion or terrorism.
To tackle terrorism we have to take away the support for it. Otherwise, the breeding grounds for it will remain. We really need a new world structure if we are going to deal with problems realistically.
Dr Momen said that in the aftermath of the Sept 11 terrorists attack in America it was clear that richer nations could not isolate themselves from the problems of the world.
"I am hopeful that the present tragedy and all its suffering will in itself be a catalyst for the changes we seek."
It was not as if the ideas Dr Momen was promoting were new. Over a 100 years ago the founder of the Bahai faith, Bahaullah, had called on rulers to come together in a conference that would:
* fix boundaries of nations so that there would be no disputes, achieved if necessary through arbitration; and,
* draw up a treaty whereby boundaries would be guaranteed. If there was transgression by any one country, other countries would rise against it and in this way give expression to the concept of collective security.
When security was established in this way, arms expenditure, especially in poorer countries, could be reduced dramatically. The savings could then be fed into education, health and infrastructure - a major step forward.
There were welcome signs of ordinary people growing into a sense of global unity, that everyone was living on a small planet, completely inter-dependent.
In globalisation, only politics and religion seemed not up to reality.
Politicians, for the most part, were operating on the level of independent, sovereign nations when in fact they had little freedom to move in such matters as finance.
Many political and religious leaders were responsible for stoking conflict and hatred in their quest for wealth, prestige and power.
What we want at the end of the globalisation process is not a uniform world, which is one of the problems associated with multi- national corporations, but a preservation of different cultures and have them appreciated as part of the process.
Dr Momen, who has studied other faiths and written books highlighting common themes in them, was here 12 years ago and is amazed at the changes that have taken place.
As for the current world crisis, he said Malaysia had addressed it calmly and sensibly.
He met with Institute for Islamic Understanding (Ikim) officials and also members of the Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship (Insaf).
©Copyright 2001, New Straits Times (Malaysia)