Comango: Claimed siege on Islam not licence to oppress


(MM) – Rejecting claims that Islam was under siege, a coalition of human rights groups today urged Muslim authorities to stop using the allegation to impose their views on other religions.

Pointing out that the Federal Constitution indisputably states Islam’s role as the religion of the federation, the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs (Comango) said this position was virtually unassailable.

“I really don’t think Islam is under siege in Malaysia at all. In fact, there’s so many provisions that give Islam a special place in our nation,” Comango spokesman Honey Tan told reporters here.

Jerald Joseph (pic), who represented human rights group Pusat KOMAS, added that those claiming that Islam was besieged should be made to demonstrate their allegation beyond bald accusations.

Yesterday, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed that a purported threat to Islam is legitimate, singling out the Christian community of deliberately testing the tolerance of their Muslim countrymen by insisting on using “Allah” to call their God.

The still-influential former prime minister said the respect Malaysians have for traditional values and customs will disappear should Malays lose political power and backed calls by certain Malay and Muslim rights groups here to rally to defend Islam.

Today, Tan insisted that Islam’s special position does not grant Muslim authorities and groups the right to oppress other religions and control how these are practised.

“It definitely does not give you the right to call for violence against people who speak about many issues, not necessarily freedom of religion,” added Tan, who represented Pusat Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower).

She was referring to a call by Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) for Muslims to be “more aggressive” in defence of their faith.

Comango has been in the crosshairs of Muslim groups that accuse it of trying to challenge the position of Islam in the nation and spreading “liberalism teachings” backed by Western powers.

Last month, Isma had claimed that Muslims in Malaysia face real conspiracies coming from evangelical Christians and “chauvinists”, in addition to Jews and Freemasons.

In a separate statement, the group’s president also blamed “ungrateful infidels” for spiralling religious tension in the country.

In a Friday sermon last month, the federal religious authority also accused Christians and Jews of turning Muslims against each other and tricking them into losing their rights.

Singling out Christians and Jews as the “enemies of Islam”, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) claimed that Muslims in Malaysia will always be under siege as long as this threat is not addressed.