Lisa J. Ariffin, The Malaysian Insider
One of the country’s most influential Muslim group came out today to publicly castigate both MCA and DAP for their protracted dispute over hudud, accusing the Chinese-based rival parties of propagating the spread of Islamophobia in Malaysia.
Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement (ABIM) president Amidi Abdul Manan said statements made recently by both MCA and DAP leaders were in complete disregard for the sensitivities of Islam and the hudud law, the religious criminal code that prescribes, among others, the amputation of hands as punishment for theft.
He accused both parties of using the hudud issue to garner political support from the country’s non-Muslims ahead of the coming general election.
“If the situation persists and is not looked upon, the phenomena of Islamophobia which mirrors the unsteady relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims around the world will spread to the country,” Amidi warned today in a press statement.
He strongly emphasised that Islam would not deny the rights and freedom of non-Muslims and this assertion was clearly outlined in Islamic jurisprudence.
“Hence, any attempt to polemicize Islamic law (hudud) to create prejudice among non-Muslims should be stopped,” he urged.
“Instead, all parties should be prepared to understand this (law) to prevent misunderstanding among society,” he added.
Amidi said his organisation is extending offers to clarify the issue in the forms of discussion, as well as academic and scholarly discourse.
“ABIM is also set to hold a series of explanatory discourse with the public, especially the non-Muslim communities,” he said.
Yesterday, opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim described the incessant focus on hudud and Islamic state issues in the mainstream media as Barisan Nasional’s “last desperate attempt” to deflect from its own corruption and abuses.
The opposition leader said BN was attempting to sow racial and religious strife as well as “intimidate” voters with reminders of racial unrest, via the media outlets its parties own in the run-up to the general election.
The BN-friendly media has also been highlighting the disparate stances of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partners DAP and PAS on the emotive issues: The former opposes the Islamic state and penal code that the latter aspires to realise.
Last week, influential former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that PAS could realise its goal to set up an Islamic state and enforce hudud if it joined Umno, in a bid to woo the Islamist party to BN’s side.
His remarks came in the wake of a recent controversy after religious conservatives, including the state muftis of Pahang and Perak, dubbed the DAP “kafir harbi” or belligerent infidels for its consistent opposition to hudud, dragging PAS and PKR into a heated debate.
The controversy prompted PAS president Datuk Seri Hadi Awang to rise to its ally’s defence, pointing out that while the DAP opposed hudud, Umno had already rejected its implementation.
Hudud and the Islamic state were two issues that tore asunder the fledgling Barisan Alternatif — the precursor to the present day PR — following Election 1999, when DAP and PAS went their separate ways after failing to reach a compromise.
But the focus on the two issues has also put the spotlight on the mixed messages sent by BN. Umno has often courted PAS by offering to help it realise its Islamic state aim, while MCA openly rejects hudud and any form of Islamic rule.