Speak up for secular politics, Anwar and three others tell Muslims


(Malay Mail Online) – Muslims must reject the commingling of religion and politics to avoid falling victim to religious extremists and authoritarian governments purporting to combat them, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has said in an opinion with three other Muslim world leaders.

In the piece published by Indonesian news portal The Jakarta Globe and in response to last month’s Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris that was triggered by the magazine’s caricatures of Prophet Muhammad, the four also said that freedom of speech was an inalienable right in Islam.

The article was penned by Opposition Leader Anwar along with founder of Khlass Le Silence Felix Marquardt, president of the World Council of Religions for Peace Ghaleb Bencheikh, and imam and rector of the Great Mosque of Bordeaux Tareq Oubrou.

“We must stand up as Muslims to publicly voice our attachment to secularism in politics. Let us never forget that on a global scale, Muslims themselves are the first victims of both the fundamentalists who claim to represent Islam and of secular dictators who claim they are the only resort to contain those fundamentalists,” the four said.

In the article titled “Islam is a victim of global terrorists”, the quartet condemned the “barbarous” killings in Paris by Islamist gunmen and said that violence — physical or verbal — was not the way Muslims should defend their faith.

The Charlie Hebdo massacre and resultant killings were not simply an attack against the press, the four said when categorising the murders as an assault on Islam by portraying the religion as closely link to terrorism.

The group also spoke of a pressing need for Muslim religious leaders to combat the hijacking of Islam by fundamentalists, noting that the last meaningful reform of the religion occurred over a century ago.

“There is undeniably a very real contemporary problem of manipulation of the Quran and of prophecies by certain self-proclaimed theologians, preachers and exegetes with a warped understanding of Islam.

“Muslim religious leaders must be aware of their crucial responsibility,” they said.

“Whatever the nationality and religious creed, humans must be free to approach their citizenship and relation to religion as they see fit.”

Twelve editorial staff members from Charlie Hebdo were killed in a massacre on January 7 when Islamist gunmen stormed the magazine’s office in Paris to protest its publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Malaysia’s secularity is increasingly disputed by Muslim leaders who maintain that the country is an Islamic state by dint of the Federal Constitution article that states Islam is the religion of the federation.

The government is also giving greater prominence to Islamic laws and authorities in the country, prompting concerned groups and luminaries to press Putrajaya to reaffirm the country’s secularity and reverse the gradual Islamisation of Malaysia and its laws.