Here is why some people are Islamophobic - Commander S THAYAPARAN (Retired) Royal Malaysian Navy
Saturday, August 10, 2019
Malaysiakini : “Religious moderation is the product of secular knowledge and scriptural ignorance.” ― Sam Harris, 'The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason'
COMMENT | As expected, I received the usual attack text messages and emails for my article on the khat fiasco. I am often accused of being anti-Malay and suffering from Islamophobia. These attacks, mostly ad hominem
in nature, are now coming from non-Malays, people who before the
historic May 9 win supported the points I made about the racial and
religious discourse when it was directed against the Najib regime but
now they warn me against rocking the Pakatan Harapan boat.
Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said that he believes that the opposition against khat was grounded in a phobia about Islam. My question is, can Muslims understand why some people are Islamophobic?
The recent close encounter
in Selangor with unilateral conversion demonstrates that religion –
Islam – continues to be weaponised in the Harapan regime - something we
were told would cease under the new management.
I am not
interested in the political manoeuvrings behind this latest provocation
against non-Muslims but what I am interested in addressing in this piece
is the reality that the phobia against Islam in this country is
justified and like it or not, it falls on the DAP to maintain the
secular line when it comes to religious provocations.
warn non-Malay political operatives in private and in my articles that
they should remain strictly secular and not trespass into the domain of
Islam because they need to be a line in the sand when it comes to
mainstream Muslim politics in this country. My advice was not
welcome and the Kool-aid was dispensed and we have a large segment of
non-Muslims engaging in the “true Muslim” meme as I defined here.
other words, a ‘true’ Muslim as defined by those who have been on the
receiving end of Umno-influenced Islam all these years, is a Muslim who
conforms to the political and social conventions of the so-called
moderate stance espoused by Pakatan Rakyat.”
Having said that, a big shout-out to the DAP’s Gobind Singh Deo for his rejoinder on the Selangor DAP’s no-nonsense stand over the issue of state legislative assembly speaker Ng Suee Lim for doing what he did when public reports and my snooping around confirm that he was under extreme pressure. Kudos to Lim Guan Eng for making the stand of the party clear and unambiguous on this issue and defending the Selangor DAP.
national organising secretary Anthony Loke meanwhile should consider
growing some cajones because this issue is not a Selangor DAP issue but
which has consequences for every non-Muslim in this country. Just say
"no comment" instead of engaging in weaselly deflections if you don't
want to make a stand on an issue.
The MCA deserves credit, too, with MCA spokesperson Chan Quin Er getting to the heart of the issue when she said this: "If
the Harapan state and federal governments purport to herald in a 'New
Malaysia', whereby as Malaysian citizens, we extol the values and
goodwill of multiculturalism, then enacting laws to legally permit
unilateral conversion of a minor is mala fide and breaches such values."
have argued that unilateral conversion is religious kidnapping.
However, it goes beyond that, if that was not bad enough. I made to
which I think relevant as to why claims about people having a phobia
against Islam is not only justified but I would argue that those
“phobias” are a self-defence mechanism –
“If an adult wishes to place his or herself under such obligations,
then it is their right to do so, but a parent unilaterally deciding to
convert a child without the consent of their partner is not only morally
reprehensible but should also come with legal consequences, preferably
jail time with a couple of strokes of the rotan.”
the “true Muslim” meme that is political in nature, the reality is that
a majority of Muslims believe that unilateral conversion – when it
comes to Islam – is justified. Exploring environs beyond partisan echo
chambers reveal connective tissue between Islamic policymaking and a vox populi of Muslim social media.
Harapan Malay/Muslim political operatives claim an issue like
unilateral conversion plays well with their base, they are probably more
right than wrong. It really does not matter if political pundits bray
about bread-and-butter issues; the reality is that for a majority of
Muslims, their religion trumps the bread-and-butter issues that connect
us all as citizens of this country regardless of race or religion.
don’t support PAS because of their brilliant economic or social
programmes; they support PAS because they believe they are the keepers
of the faith. Similarly, those who supported Umno on the basis of race
and religion did so because they believed that religion was better when
it came with entitlement programmes.
In a political terrain such
as this, is it any wonder why some folks could be termed “Islamophobic”?
Mind you, if there was a strict separation between policies which
affect Muslims and non-Muslims, and there was empirical evidence to
support such a position, then non-Malays would not have a fear of Islam.
Instead, the rules that apply to Muslims "only" have always touched
non-Muslims and defined our economic, social and political realities.
Zan Azlee in his column in Malaysiakini
arguing that Malaysia may be racists forever correctly points out the
privileged position he is in as a Malay/Muslim when it comes to
criticising race and religion. This was demonstrated when DAP veteran
Lim Kit Siang had to rely on social activist Anas Zubedy's position when asking controversial Muslim preacher Zakir Naik to voluntary leave this country.
too, adds to the phobia. This unfairness when it comes to fighting with
one hand tied behind your back. This handicap when it comes to
defending secular positions and the reality that if you do this, you
would not only have to contend with mainstream Malay/Muslim retaliation
but also partisans who have no interest in rocking the boat. When it comes to the racial and religious discourse in this country, I will end with my favourite Philip K Dick quote:
“This is a mournful discovery. 1. Those who agree with you are insane. 2. Those who do not agree with you are in power.”