Will use all means to fight decision, says Malaysian PM
Kuala lumpur: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak vowed on Friday to use every means to protest against US President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a tough stand likely to win him support among Muslim voters.
Najib has been embroiled in a graft scandal over a state-run fund, and has faced unprecedented criticism from former ruling party stalwarts, making the support of members of the Muslim, ethnic Malay majority vital in a general election next year.
"We will continue to fight on this issue, using every available means, through political and diplomatic channels, through discussion and prayer, until one day, God willing, Jerusalem belongs to the Palestinian people," Najib told a rally of about 1,500 in the administrative capital of Putrajaya.
He said he would not "sacrifice the sanctity of Islam" despite his friendship with Trump. Najib visited the White House in September.
"It is our first duty as Muslims to uphold the religion. If Jerusalem is a sacred land for Muslims, then it is upon us to free it from the grasps of Zionists," Najib said.
Najib and his ruling party have been burnishing their Islamic credentials with the aim of boosting their chances in the general election, which must be held by mid-2018.
About 60 percent of Malaysia's population is ethnic Malay Muslim, with most of the rest ethnic Chinese and ethnic Indian. Najib, who did not mention the election in his speech at the rally, is hoping to win a third term despite the multi-billion dollar corruption scandal at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) that has dogged his premiership for two years. US Attorney-General Jeff Sessions this month described the scandal at the sovereign fund set up by Najib as the worst form of kleptocracy. The US Department of Justice has filed several lawsuits to seize more than $1.7 billion in assets believed to have been stolen from 1MDB.
Sessions did not identify any officials he thought were corrupt.