Same country that just ruled Christians can’t use the word “Allah,” banned Muslim women from participating in a beauty pageant, and is considering charging them with “insulting Islam.”

(AFP, Kuala Lumpur) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry lauded Malaysia Friday as a modern, innovative and multi-faith model for the world, heaping praise on a country the United States regards as a valuable Muslim ally.

On the final day of a curtailed Asian tour in which he has filled in for U.S. President Barack Obama, Kerry said Malaysia’s young people were an inspiration for the Arab Spring.

“Here in Malaysia, people of different heritages have been in conversation for a long time,” Kerry said in a speech to mainly young entrepreneurs in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur.

He cited the symbolism of Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers – the world’s tallest twin skyscrapers – having blended modern engineering, traditional Muslim design, Malaysian vision, a U.S. architect and Asian builders.

“Together, they… are a soaring reminder that Malaysia is much more than a marketplace. It is a human and economic mosaic – and it is a model for the world,” Kerry said.

He said people struggling against authoritarian regimes in the Arab Spring uprisings in other Muslim countries had been inspired by young people such as those in prosperous Malaysia, who had freedoms and abilities to fulfil their dreams.