Malaysia urges education to combat Muslim poverty

Malaysia's leader urged Muslim countries Monday to invest more in education in order to curb poverty and backwardness, which he called the biggest threats they face in modern times. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, speaking to an international conference of Islamic scholars, said Muslims have fallen far from the era when they were widely respected for their creativity and innovation. "The real threat the Muslims face today is their poverty, their backwardness," Abdullah said in his speech in Kuala Lumpur. "If we want to return to the days of glory, education is the answer." Malaysian officials have noted that the 57 members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the world's main Muslim political grouping, accounted for only 5 percent of world's gross domestic product in 2005 despite comprising 21 percent of the global population.