Malaysiakini: “People have been murdered over cartoons. End of moral analysis."
- Sam Harris
COMMENT | Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin has “defended his poem saying that no rational Malaysian would find cows sacred and revere them.” You read that right. According to this mufti, Hindus who hold a belief that the cow
represents something spiritual are not rational Malaysians. I suppose
you could also add vegans and vegetarians while we are at it, who for
different reasons hold that the slaughter of animals for consumption is
verboten in their belief systems.
Of course, a Muslim who is supportive of someone like Indian preacher
Zakir Naik holding forth on what is rational is an extremely unfunny
joke. Does any rational person believe what Zakir Naik or anybody who
supports him, think about religion as rational?
Asri claimed that his poem was meant for the Modi government, then
the question is why did he not simply refer to the Modi government and
instead of insulting Hindus in general? For instance, if I were to write
a poem denigrating Muslims but I claimed that the poem was aimed at the
House of Saud and not at Muslims here, would this be something that
Asri would understand? Would he and the rest of the cottage industry of
extremists get their knickers in a twist and claim I was hurting the
sensitivities of Muslims?
If Asri was really concerned about Muslims in India, why not write an
open letter to the prime minister of India and see to it that it is
published in every mainstream paper in the country? If this was really
about murdered Muslims, then why write a poem? If this was about the
anger of a hate preacher like Zakir Naik and the tyrannical government
he is escaping from, why not write a letter to the United Nations?
The cow is a sacred animal in the Hindu belief system. This was why
the protesters against a Hindu temple were kicking a cow head around as
if it was a football. This was about not respecting the religious
beliefs of others, which was why reporters spat out the Holy Communion,
when they “investigated” a church.
Furthermore, this is not the first time the Perlis mufti has insulted the Hindu community. To recap, this is what Asri said about the Indian/Hindu community -
"Sangat hina kehidupan mereka di dalam negeri mereka. Kasta pariah ini
telah dibawa oleh Inggeris ke dalam negara kita ... kehidupan yang
mereka nikmati di sini seribu kali ganda lebih baik daripada ... negara
merempat, naik bas, tak pakai baju, tak pakai seluar."
This is what I wrote in my piece no country for righteous men
- “If Asri as a Malay can't see the inequality of his own multiracial
society, how can he as a Muslim reflect on the moderate nature of
Asri brazenly claims “the Indian government under Modi, a religious
fanatic, has led to many Muslims and Christians to be killed”. If Asri
knew anything about the politics in India, he would realise that the
Modi government is under constant criticism from Hindu hardliners
because he is perceived as failing to live up to his populist stance.
And if Modi is a religious fanatic, then what does this make the
prime minister of Malaysia? Modi is aware of the secular nature of his
country. He is mindful of the separation between temple and state. He is
very well aware of the independence of the judiciary which has
curtailed Hindu extremism and maintained a watchful eye on how
minorities are treated. There is an extremely robust free press which
highlights the corruption of the state but more importantly, the efforts
of the Modi administration to slay sacred cows in the name of progress.
Can the same be said of our country?
If Asri is really concerned about “the lives of many Muslims have
been sacrificed in horrifying and cruel manners”, he should concentrate
his attention on Pakistan. This is where the action is when it comes to
Muslims dying in horrible ways.
This is where a tyrannical government tortures and kills Muslims on a
daily basis. This is where Muslims are deprived of their land rights,
freedom of speech, freedom of worship - except state- sanctioned Islam -
where they at the mercy of death squads, where they are tortured, where
women are subject to honour killings, where young children are beaten
and sold into indentured servitude, where there are bombings, mass
executions, no free press, no independent judiciary, and where opposing
Muslims tribes go to war with one another.
I mean why go after the Indian government which subsidises the Haj
pilgrimage for Indians who are Muslims. Thankfully this is going to
change in the near future because of a 2012 Supreme Court ruling. There
are far better ways to "uplift" the Muslim community, and enlightened
Muslims would prefer money spent on education rather than something like
this, which fuels Hindu extremists and divides the country further
along religious lines.
Equality before the law
However, unlike some people who write poems, instead of addressing
grievances to a particular person, here is what I want since Asri asked.
Obviously, I do not speak for anybody else. What I want is equality before the law. When you as a Malay/Muslim
insult my belief system, the consequence is not the same if I as a Hindu
insulted your religion.
While Muslims hold massive rallies in support
of Islam and do not get harassed or worse by the state security
apparatus, when Christians hold a small candlelight vigil they get
harassed by the state security apparatus. When a Muslim kidnaps and converts a child, the state security
apparatus claims that it cannot do anything. When there are rumours of
Christians “converting” adult Muslims, their places of worship are
ransacked and the community is demonised in the press and in the
Non-Muslims are warned not to interfere in Islam or risk violence but
yet a hate preacher like Zakir Naik can say whatever he likes about our
holy books and nothing happens to him. What would happen if a Hindu or
Christian intellectual publicly interpreted the Quran and told Muslims
how their book was wrong and that their religion was not supreme but
Hinduism or Christianity was supreme? This is what I want. I want the same rules applied to you as a Muslim as it does to me a Hindu.
If we all cannot have free speech and expression, then I do not see why you alone should have free speech and expression.