Malaysiakini : “Let me assure you that my intent is not to offend or merely be provocative. I'm simply worried.” - Sam Harris
| Non-Muslims are constantly told we live in an Islamic state. While
the late Karpal Singh and a host of others may disagree, the mainstream
narrative of politicians is that we are an “Islamic” state. If
you are one of those people who disagree with this statement, good luck
to you because, these days, political operatives who would disagree
with the idea that Malaysia is an Islamic state are hiding somewhere.
live in a country where non-Muslims cannot use certain words. Each
state has its own list of words verboten to non-Muslims. We live in a
country where Jakim (Islamic Development Department) recently stated
that it is “not compulsory” for Muslims to participate in interfaith
We live in a country where mainstream Muslim politicians
scream about Islamophobia but get away with saying that non-Muslims
have to be pak turut. We live in a country where unilateral conversion is thought of as the right of the majority.
P Ramasamy recently wrote that the prime minister backs secular principles
when Muslims are a minority. The reality is that the Muslim political
elite and a majority of Muslims in Malaysia who have no issue with their
racial and religious privileges use “Western liberal” principles to
uphold the rights of Muslims where they are a minority.
So when the Narendra Modi (photo)
regime coughs up something like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA),
which blatantly goes against fundamental Western “liberal” positions,
there are many minorities who live in Muslim majority countries
empathising with this law.
extends to Dong Zong having to cancel its congress while agents of the
fascist state enjoy protesting against the International Convention for
the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (Icerd), holding a dignity
congress, Zakir Naik confabs and of course, holding rallies threatening
non-Malays with violence if their (Malay) “rights” are threatened.
Unlike the cosy liberal objectors to
this law, they understand how it is living in conditions where your hard
work and effort are used against you or are used as a justification of
how good you have it (as a non-Muslim) in a Muslim majority country.
Malaysian Indian groups objected to Zakir, for instance, this prompted
Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin to send a poem to the prime
minister of India and say this about the Hindu community – “Here, they
never thanked for what they have. Instead, they colluded to cause
trouble. We cannot remain silent; tolerance and patience have its
Observe how Asri, like many other fascists, wants to be
thanked for existing in a country that the minorities helped construct.
Even our current prime minister acknowledges that non-Malays built this
country – cities towns, the infrastructure – and did not have the
privileges that Malays have but were successful. Then again he thinks the Malays are lazy.
all this talk of moderation and religious pluralism? It is all
political theatre. Keep in mind what Selangor Islamic Religious Council
head honcho Mohammed Khusrin Munawi said of the High court ruling on
the Selangor state fatwa on labeling Sisters of Islam deviant - "mana-mana
individu, pertubuhan atau institusi yang berpegang kepada fahaman
liberalisme dan pluralisme agama adalah sesat dan menyeleweng daripada
ajaran Islam (any individual, organisation or institution that holds
to liberalism and religious pluralism is deviant and straying from
Learning about culture is a one-way street
I was younger I was known as somewhat of an amateur Arabist. My
military education and association, both formally and informally with
the Indonesian security apparatus, not to mention security concerns,
naturally contextualised my interests in a specific region of the world.
these days I tend to roll my eyes whenever I see non-Muslim politicians
going on about the plight of “oppressed Muslims” in various parts of
the world or demonstrating solidarity whenever a tragedy occurs to
Muslims in Western countries. Nobody is outraged when Christians were
slaughtered in Sri Lanka or when minorities are oppressed in Muslim
Of course, we are supposed to be a
“moderate” Muslim country, hence any objections to the Islamisation of
our public and private spaces are met with scorn by the very people who
would object to “Western” interference of the private and public spaces
of Muslim minorities in other countries.
about culture is a one-way street in Malaysia. The non-Malays have no
choice but to learn about Malay culture, while the Malays get to retreat
to a mainstream political system that claims that their culture, their
economic survival and their political system is under threat because of
the non-Malays – which generally means the Chinese community.
exactly does “moderation” mean? Most Malaysians, especially non-Malays
and non-Muslims, define it as the middle ground between the religious
and racial politics of the majority and the “rights” of minority
communities. Moderation has nothing to do with secular governance, nor
does it have anything to do with egalitarian policy. Most of the time,
it is political rhetoric.
Fa Abdul says that our tolerating nature is our weakness.
The problem is not our tolerating nature, but rather our political
system that gives no options to express our rejection of Islamic
policies that intrude into our private and public spaces.
demonstrate our intolerance of policy or ideology by voting for people
who would represent our dissent. Unfortunately, the politicians seem to
have left the field and in their place are banners with their faces on
Folks blame Mahathir for our problems and he is certainly
part of it, but this distracts from the fact that, as Liew Chin Tong
reminds us, that half of the population did not vote for Harapan. The
problem is that Harapan has no interest in fulfilling its campaign
promises to the half that voted for them.
Instead, like the cops
who stopped Fa Abdul’s play, they are more interested in appeasing the
side which is the cause of the problem, instead of the side which is
exercising their democratic rights in an attempt to forge a new
I am not attempting to create a victimhood narrative,
but you cannot use secularism when it is convenient and you have to
understand why some – I use some because I do not want to speak for
every non-Muslim – understand the need for this law, even though it goes
against principles that would be wanted in place here.
We get the country we deserve.