A slap on the wrist

By Dina Zaman, The Malaysian Insider

As a Muslim and Malaysian, I feel ashamed and very sad. I also know by my self-imposed campaign to tell any and everyone that Islam is a religion of peace and justice may be met with great cynicism by non-Muslims.

JULY 27 — Eyzva Ezhar Ramly’s one week imprisonment for being part of the cow-head protest last year is a slap on the wrist, for him and others who were also part of the protest. Four others were discharged after they pleaded not guilty to the charges and when the deputy public prosecutor decided not to press any further against them.

This, unfortunately, tells us Malaysians this: you can commit a crime, disrupt peace and harmony in this country, and get away with very minimal punishment. And sadly, this is not the first time such a thing has happened.

As a friend said, how would Muslims feel if they felt they were a minority in this country and under  siege, and the most Holy symbol of Islam — the Quran — is desecrated in a similar manner?

Admittedly such an action was carried out by callow, insensitive and unthinking youths, who were a minority by themselves. My friends, who vote and represent the various political parties Malays are part of, expressed dismay and regret when news broke. And now this. What is there to say?

We can write reams of columns and op-eds about this. We can talk about this in public and among friends and families. We can debate and fight over this until the cows come home (pun intended), but the truth of the matter is, this is one very bitter incident that will linger in our memories for a long time to come. Our parents still talk about the Dark Days of May 13, 1969. The past few years may have liberated Malaysians and allowed them to express themselves more freely, but at the same time, many incidents have angered us all and distrust each other more.