We’re not afraid of the Islamic State

Boo Su-Lyn

Boo Su-Lyn, MMO

Malaysian Islamic State (IS) member Muhammad Wanndy Mohamed Jedi, also known as Abu Hamzah al-Fateh ― who is believed to have been behind the grenade attack on a club in Puchong, giving the orders from Syria ― reportedly warned the Chinese not to insult Islam.

He even had the nerve to say that IS would take action if there was another insult to Islam akin to the ones made by former sex blogger Alvin Tan, acting as if the terrorist group is the guardian of Islam when they are completely antithetical to the religious teachings that preach good.

Malaysians should not respond by living in fear.

We must show IS that their actions are completely unacceptable, that they have absolutely no justification to threaten more attacks on the basis of “insults” to Islam.

We must show them that when they threaten the Chinese, they are threatening all Malaysians across race and religion.

The way to respond to so-called insults to religion is not through violence, but through rational discussion and debate.

IS, which commits murder against those they perceive as enemies of Islam and keeps women and children as sex slaves, represents the worst of religion.

I won’t address the point on whether or not IS is really Islamic ― they justify their actions based on their own interpretation of the religious texts. Violence is also found in the Bible. Christians, Buddhists, Hindus have all committed acts of violence based on religious beliefs.

So religion is a subjective matter. Followers believe and practise what they think is right according to their faith, which can be good things like giving your life for the poor or at the opposite end of the spectrum, murdering people who don’t share your beliefs.

IS’ recent wave of attacks around the world during Ramadan ― the one on Movida club here which injured eight people, the bombings at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport, the slaying of 20 hostages in Dhaka, Bangladesh, and a suicide bombing in Baghdad that killed at least 250 people ― indicate that the terrorist group is losing territory and money, according to Foreign Policy Research Institute senior fellow Clint Watts.

Watts reportedly said the attacks were a way to create a perception of strength to attract donations, after IS lost 45 per cent of its peak territory in Iraq and 20 per cent of its peak territory in Syria according to the US government. Controlling territory allows IS to extort people living in its territories, which is reportedly how it gets most of its funds.

The militant group also reportedly cut salaries for its fighters by 50 per cent.

We must fight back against IS, continue living our daily lives without fear and support the police instead of questioning their credibility all the time. Yes, our local police should improve in many ways (like refrain from taking action against citizens who insult government leaders), but they can be professional too.

More importantly, we should counter IS’ narrative that violence is an acceptable response to criticism of religion. Even statements that indicate acceptance of violence, like kafir harbi, should be roundly condemned.

Malaysians across all religions should also reject homophobia. IS has killed men accused of homosexuality by pushing them off buildings in Syria and Iraq; acts which were unfortunately cheered on by the public.

Merely arresting IS members is not enough to fight them here. Our entire worldview must be radically different from theirs to show Muhammad Wanndy that IS is not everywhere in Malaysia.

When we treat people of other faiths with respect, tolerate criticism and insults, and show kindness to those who are different from us, then IS would have lost not just the battle, but the war.