Malaysiakini : “Moderates always seem to deal in hopes rather than in facts.” ― Ken Follett, ‘Fall of Giants’
COMMENT | Apparently, this
self-service laundrette in Muar, Johor has become a Muslim-only
‘paradise’ where pious Muslims do not have to worry about contamination
from their fellow non-Muslim citizens. Johor mufti Mohd Tahrir Samsudi
thinks that this should not turn into an “issue” because it only
encourages “negative perception from non-Muslims towards Muslims.”
Who would have known when washing clothes in self-service
laundrettes, some Muslims are “doubtful” if their clothes would be
‘stained’ by the unclean elements from non-Muslims and their “haram”
lifestyles? In other words, this mufti endorses this Muslim-only
self-service laundrette because some Muslims are worried that their
clothes would ‘tainted’ by the haram clothes of non-Muslims, and he is
warning folks not to have a negative perception of Muslims?
You know what would make non-Muslims not have a negative perception
of Muslims? If mainstream Muslim politicians and activists came out and
said that the owners of this self-service laundrette was incorrect and
encourage Muslims not to patronise this place. Better yet, enact
anti-discrimination laws that would ensure that it is wrong to
discriminate based on religion, race or gender. This is what would
create a positive perception of Muslims to non-Muslims.
Can you imagine if a Christian business owner put out a sign which
said he wants Christian-only patrons? Can you imagine the storm that
would have created? We live in a country where the progressive forces -
the progressive forces, mind you - make allowance for bigotry and
racism, and we wonder why we are in the hole we are in. I am sick and tired of well-meaning kook jobs asking us to find the middle ground.
There can be no middle ground when it comes to certain people. In
addition, when those people are supported by the state in their
religious preoccupations, the idea that the average Joe Rakyat has to
make compromises and learn to co-exist is complete horse manure.
Every time the aggrieved cottage industry of Muslim provocateurs
flexes its muscles, we are told that this is a multi-racial and
religious country but it is always incumbent on the non-Muslim – the
other – to find a way to live peacefully while our public and private
spaces are invaded by mendacious bigots, who claim that non-Muslims are
unclean and are a detriment to their way of life.
When discussing this issue with a group of friends, a Muslim
colleague suggested that this was no different from non-halal eateries.
Say what, now? Look, nobody is placing dietary restrictions on Muslims.
Non-halal eateries are not discriminating against Muslims, they are
informing Muslims that their food is non-halal and it is up to them to
decide if they want to consume it or not. What is the world in Malaysia
coming to when such basic concepts are not understood?
I have seen adverts where “(insert ethnicity here) preferred” for
house and roommates. I have seen how we treat people from the African
continent. I have seen the way how marginalised ethnic groups are
vilified by opposition supporters. Even here in the comment section of Malaysiakini, there is enough bigotry and racism that would put a smile on the face of any KKK grand wizard.
So this idea that we are really nice people deep down inside is complete horse manure. However, when it comes to religion, we should be especially mindful.
What this self-service establishment is doing is normalising Islamic
extremism. This is far more damaging because incidents like this in a
country with a compromised ruling coalition has the potential to become
You want to know how to find the “middle ground” where we can
co-exist peacefully without treading on each other’s toes too often? The
answer is simple. Stop trying to find things that offend one’s
religion. Stop attempting to demonstrate that at every turn, one’s race
and religion are superior to everything and everyone else when there is
no empirical evidence to support this.
There is no grand mystery to this. There is no complex formula to
achieve national unity. You think a beer festival goes against your
religious beliefs? Well then, do not attend it. You think that a
person's sexuality goes against your religious beliefs? Well then, avoid
those people and I am sure they will thank you for it. You think
certain ideas go against your religious beliefs? Well then, attempt to
persuade people that your ideas are better.
Instead, what do we have? Non-Muslims have to understand the
religious sensitivities of Muslims. Non-Muslims have to compromise
because they are a minority and stupid analogies are made of Western
countries where Muslims have to “compromise” on their beliefs.
Non-Muslims are warned that if we are not careful, the hornet’s nest
will be stirred and there will be trouble.
This is what people mean when they talk about moderation? A couple of months ago, I wrote
that Pakatan Harapan can’t talk about race and religion - "Will Islamic
extremism – which I am on record believing this as the existential
threat facing Malaysia – be halted because the new regime is secular in
“On every ‘Islamic’ issue that has cropped up, and please keep in
mind Islam and race here in Malaysia are not mutually exclusive, the
opposition (especially Muslim opposition politicians enabled by their
non-Muslims counterparts) have dodged, evaded or fudged from taking any
stand which is opposite from the ruling Umno regime."
The real point to all of this is that there is no middle ground when
it comes to issues like these. There is only right and wrong, and
because we can’t see this or because we have become anathematised to the
racism and bigotry that defines us as a people, we will lose this war
against the extremists in this country.