Mahathir proposes gold, barter trade system for Muslim nations

KUALA LUMPUR • Iran, Malaysia, Turkey and Qatar are considering trading among themselves in gold and through a barter system as a hedge against any future economic sanctions on them, said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad yesterday.

At the end of an Islamic summit in Malaysia, Tun Dr Mahathir praised Iran and Qatar for withstanding economic embargoes, adding that it was important for the Muslim world to be self-reliant to face future threats.

"With the world witnessing nations making unilateral decisions to impose such punitive measures, Malaysia and other nations must always bear in mind that it can be imposed on any of us," he said.

US-allied Arab states Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt cut diplomatic and trade ties with Qatar about 21/2 years ago over claims that it backs terrorism, a charge Doha denies.

Iran, meanwhile, has been hit badly after the United States reimposed sanctions on it last year.

"I have suggested that we re-visit the idea of trading using the gold dinar and barter trade among us," Dr Mahathir said, referring to the Islamic medieval gold coin. "We are seriously looking into this and we hope that we will be able to find a mechanism to put it into effect."

The leaders agreed that they needed to do more business among themselves and trade in each other's currencies.

'NEW' OLD STANDARD

I have suggested that we re-visit the idea of trading using the gold dinar and barter trade among us... We are seriously looking into this and we hope that we will be able to find a mechanism to put it into effect.

MALAYSIAN PRIME MINISTER MAHATHIR MOHAMAD, on his proposal to trade using the Islamic medieval gold coin.

The summit, which was snubbed by Saudi Arabia, was criticised for undermining the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which represents 57 Muslim-majority nations.

Malaysia said all the OIC members had been invited to the Kuala Lumpur summit but only about 20 showed up.

By the fourth and final day of the summit, no joint statement had been released. The summit had been expected to discuss major issues affecting Muslims, including Palestine, Kashmir and the plight of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar and China's camps for Uighur Muslims in its western Xinjiang region.

Without naming any country, Dr Mahathir said there was concern that Muslims in non-Muslim countries were being forced to undergo assimilation. "We support integration but assimilation to the extent of shedding our religion is unacceptable," he said.

At a news conference later, he said the summit participants had been told that Uighurs were being detained in China.

"We have to hear the state, we have to hear the people who complain, then only will it be fair," the Malaysian leader said.

He also called India's new Citizenship Amendment Act unfortunate. The Act facilitates faster naturalisation of non-Muslim immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan who had settled in India prior to 2015.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 22, 2019, with the headline 'Mahathir proposes gold, barter trade system for Muslim nations'. Subscribe