Reject religious bigotry, racism and hatred


Azrul Mohd Khalib, Malay Mail Online

Maybe the water shortage in the Klang Valley is causing dehydration, delirium or something. Recently, I have been seeing a lot of foam around the mouths of so many self-anointed and self-appointed champions of faith. It’s pretty ugly, really, how it can get bigoted, racist and hateful.

Some people have asked that, if they are so bad, why is it that the media then provides them the space to air their views. Wouldn’t it be better if their views were totally ignored and not reported by the media? Yes and no, I would say.

Yes, because honestly, reading yet another mad and blatantly bigoted opinion in the morning makes my teh tarik and roti canai go out the wrong way and upsets me throughout the day.

No, because people need to know and be aware of the dangers that lurk unseen, and have influence and access to the highest levels of government. Sticking our heads in the sand or closing our ears and going lalala will not make them go away.

It is no coincidence that the language used by this lot seeps its way through to the Friday sermons, which are standardised throughout the country by the Department of Islamic Development (JAKIM). I used to get sleepy during Friday prayer sermons because the content would be all warm and fuzzy. These days, I pay attention and take notes.

After all, to fight back against religious bigotry, discrimination and hate, we need to know and understand what we are up against.

I want to make a clever observation or deliver a witty repartee in response. But honestly, I am just fed up. So what I am going to do instead is to give medals to the most outstanding of this lot.

The gold medal goes to the enlightened and collective souls which make up the leadership of the Ikatan Muslim Malaysia (ISMA).

In their world, only Malays can be Muslims, Bahasa Malaysia is an Islamic language, liberalism is a satanic agenda (somehow they know what Satan is thinking and plotting about), religious pluralism and multiculturalism threaten Islam, and the coming of the Chinese and Indians into the country were part of a “cunning and evil” conspiracy by the British to weaken the Malays.

Seriously, it is hard to make some of this stuff up, but this is all what they say and claim as the truth.

After listening to their vice president in a forum last week, I realised that not only do these people barely understand the concepts and terms that they demonise, such as liberalism and religious pluralism, they also dismiss any consideration whatsoever of opinions or knowledge contrary to their arguments.

Facts and truths are so inconvenient, aren’t they? They are either tainted by the West or else it is Satan’s doing. Easy. Tak payah fikir panjang.

What this mindset demonstrates to me instead is laziness. Laziness on their part to engage in debate, learned argument, knowledgeable discourse and most importantly, to learn. Historically, Islam is a religion that celebrates the accumulation and advancement of knowledge and intellectual argumentation. In the past, it led the world into the light of knowledge and progress while Europe smothered during a dark period of intellectual darkness and barbarity.

We need to ask ISMA the hard questions because what they and their ilk are promoting are virtues which are absolutely un-Islamic, promote ignorance and encourages us to shun the world. Does this organisation get public funding, like Perkasa? Our taxpayers money should never be used in support of such an agenda.

The silver medal is shared by the Islamic Religious Department of Selangor (JAIS) and the former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah.

The raid by JAIS and its continued recalcitrance against treating people, institutions and practices of another faith with dignity and respect, besmirches the memory, traditions and practice put forth by the Prophet Muhammad PBUH.

The fact that Bibles in the national language are being treated as if they are contraband, drugs or even pornography needing to be investigated is a disgrace. Return the Bibles immediately. The Selangor government should also grow a spine and instruct this state department to do so.

The continued unsubstantiated and often hysterical accusations of proselytisation, which have somehow now become part of state policy and a government position, (evidenced by the content of the JAKIM-determined Friday sermons) does our Christian brothers and sisters an injustice and is a form of religious bigotry.

The esteemed former judge’s opinions are numerous and often steeped in racism and religious intolerance. Recently, his views concerning Hindu and Buddhist statues around the country brought back memories of the Taliban. They are not fond memories.

And finally, Zulkifli Noordin and Nawawi Ahmad share the bronze. Rather than maintaining at least pretence of respect and dignified silence upon the demise of a statesman, Karpal Singh, these two decided to go on the social media and celebrate.

Their actions were quickly condemned by all and sundry. At least Zulkifli backed off, deleted his offending tweet and was seemingly remorseful. It probably took a call into the principal’s office and a scolding to extract an apology grudgingly from Nawawi.

The latter who is also the chairman for Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd (KTMB) also said on his Facebook page “Dalam keadaan naik kereta maut, naik motor eksiden, naik kapal terbang hilang, LEBIH BAIK NAIK KERETAPI, kempen bersama keretapi ktmb,” (When driving leads to death, riding motorcycles leads to accidents, taking a flight leads to disappearance, it is better to take the train, campaign together with KTMB trains”.

Is there no decency and compassion? Such horrendous and disgraceful behaviour in the face of death and tragedy.

I quote the soon-to-be-immortal words of Khairy Jamaluddin, “Shut up, really shut up”.

The winners of the three medals above have displayed behaviour and actions that not only goes against the teachings of Islam, it also prevents others from understanding Muslims better, breeds and cultivates misunderstanding, conflict and ignorance.

They demonstrate a lack of depth in their knowledge and understanding of how Islam is practised elsewhere around the world and of its co-existence with other great religions.

Muslims everywhere should not stay quiet in the face of these harmful developments. It is high time that we voice our opposition, reject them and put a stop to it.