Malaysia to "Fight Islamophobia" with $2 Million Quran Distribution Plan

The Malaysian government revealed its plans to counter Islamophobia by distributing copies of the Quran translated into several languages, setting aside more than $2 million in its 2023 budget.

This would be the first time the country embarked on such a plan under Malaysia’s new prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim. Twenty thousand copies produced under the project would be sent to Sweden, where a far-right Swedish-Danish activist Rasmus Paludan lit the Quran on fire while staging protests.

After attending an event called “International Forum on Islamophobia” held in Malaysia’s administrative capital Putrajaya, prime minister Anwar Ibrahim told the media that the 10 million Malaysian ringgit (equivalent to 2.2 million US dollars) set aside from the program is meant to foster greater understanding of Islam.

We will print 20,000 in Swedish – and other languages too – for the purpose of better understanding,” the prime minister told reporters. “Why it has become an issue is because those against Islam never read the holy book. …. So, we have to go back to the text or at least the translation to save and enlighten others about the deeper meaning of the religion.

Anwar believes the translations, distribution, and publication of the Quran in several languages would show maturity and wisdom on Malaysia’s part amidst growing anti-Muslim sentiment worldwide.

Yes, we must protest, but it is also important we must give our understanding and do our utmost to ensure the message of the Quran is alive,” Anwar said, according to local media sources.

Sweden’s ambassador to Malaysia, Joachim Bergström, welcomed Anwar’s plan announcement.

I am personally delighted that the Al-Quran, this globally important text, will be more accessible in my native country and in Europe,” Bergström said.

I even own several copies. I have spent many years of my life living and working in the Muslim world – including as Sweden’s special envoy to combat Islamophobia between 2016 and 2021 – and I am convinced that knowledge and dialogue are the way to promote understanding and peace.” Bergström added.

Although this would be the first time Malaysia would distribute copies of the Quran worldwide, it’s not the first Muslim-majority country to do so. In 2000, Saudi Arabia spread 138 million copies of the religious text to several countries, the most recent being Kenya in 2022, which received 30,000 copies of the Quran.

But only some in Malaysia are convinced with the plan, with some Malaysian netizens saying it would be a waste of resources and it would be better to spend the money on other social programs.

A hardline Malaysian Islamist group also expressed skepticism of the plan, insisting that Malaysia should take harsher measures against Sweden, such as boycotting Swedish goods.

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