30 November 2009

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.
Wednesday November 25, 2009
Beware of ‘terrorists’ within

OVER dinner in the past week, the conversations have taken a worried turn. “Where are we heading?” was the predominant question.

Even if our habit is to continually complain, there was a more plaintive note this time. Optimism was not in abundance.

I’ve found a lot of despondency lately among the thinking citizens of this country about the state we’ve found ourselves in.

There is an economic crisis going on and that’s bad enough. But why does everything else seem to be going crazy as well?

People don’t feel safe and they don’t feel they can trust the police. Friends of mine who got robbed and received no help from the police complained publicly about it.

When I checked recently with them if anything had improved, they said no, and they were preparing to move to another area. So are many of their neighbours.

Feeling safe in one’s own home and neighbourhood is a basic expectation of any citizen. So is the expectation that some of society’s other ills are being eradicated.

Corruption is one but yet we have dropped significantly in Transparency International’s corruption index. Shouldn’t we be embarrassed?

Or is it abnormal to expect that we don’t have to grease anyone’s palm to get anything done or to be given the opportunity to do any work?

What I found was disquiet among the people about the growing conservatism in this country.

It seems that there are people who are insisting that this country must prove its Islamic credentials by being more repressive, more punitive, more unforgiving of human transgressions.

These people insist that to be truly Islamic is to be harsh. Any-thing progressive is deemed not Islamic enough, if not outright un-Islamic.

As Islam and racial identity are so intertwined, we now have a situation where it looks as if this conservatism, which on the surface looks as if it would affect only Muslims, will actually impact on non-Muslims as well.

It cannot be possible for non-Muslims to be unaffected if there are people who are spreading an “Islamic” ideology where you should not interact with people of other faiths, where they are to be viewed as lesser beings and where they constantly have to be made to respect Muslims without any commiserate respect in return.

This conservatism should properly be called extremism and all ignore it at their peril. The oft-used tactic is to insist that nobody with a different viewpoint be allowed to speak for fear that it will cause “confusion”.

Yet for many Muslims raised on a benign gentle Islam, this aggressive and harsh Islam is the one that is confusing.

Another tactic is to insist on “credentials”. Previously, there was an insistence on academic credentials. But of late, even these are not enough.

As we have seen with (former Perlis mufti) Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, anyone who has the slightest inclination towards a more progressive interpretation of Islam is targeted.

Given the Government’s seeming paralysis on these extremists, we can understand why there are worries.

Issues that could have been handled and solved quickly are allowed to fester, so much so that they attract international attention. Where are our leaders on these issues? Are they hoping these will just disappear?

Concerned citizens are wondering if our leaders are too busy politicking that they can’t see what is happening under their noses.

It will not matter eventually who gets into office because if these extremists get their way, there will be no politicians nor a democracy, only a theocracy.

Already a politician has suggested that the best person to lead a coalition is in fact a religious leader, one who can hardly be called progressive. I can think of no worse scenario for our country.

In our neighbouring countries, voters have summarily dismissed any extremist parties as well as politicians who are using religion to gain points.

Over here we seem to think that putting on a religious face is the way to go. That would be fine if it was a progressive religious face, one that puts justice, equality and inclusiveness at its core.

While not explicitly endorsing the most backward interpretations, our politicians’ lack of criticism can easily be interpreted as support. Silent complicity is all the extremists need.

Meanwhile, those who are warning against these dangers are being demonised and persecuted. These acts terrorise others into silence as well.

As a result, otherwise decent people who are worried say nothing out of fear of what would happen to them and their families. If that continues, one day we will wake up to find the Malaysia we love irrevocably changed.

16 November 2009

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at
http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.
Wednesday November 11, 2009
Speak up and be counted

Sometimes it takes an extreme act to wake us up to our rights and guard against extremism.

THERE was a flurry of excitement last week when the Selangor Islamic Department (Jais) arrested Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin, the popular former mufti of Perlis, for supposedly teaching Islam without a licence.

Surrounded by some 40 policemen and then almost handcuffed like a common criminal, Dr Mohd Asri was taken to the police station but not charged. Nor was he charged in court the next day.

The fiasco may or may not have been related to a memorandum put up by the Syariah Lawyers’ Association and supposedly handed over to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The group then apologised, and in 24 hours withdrew it so the question of the arrest as well as other defamatory statements made by various individuals remain.

Presumably, none of the people out to get Dr Mohd Asri quite realised how popular the ex-mufti is.

To call a man who has written that Muslims should be nice to their non-Muslim friends, should ensure that women get justice in the courts and that we should treat animals kindly, an extremist defied all logic.

This must have been news to them: kind people are popular!

Indeed there were many statements condemning Jais’ actions. Politicians on both sides of the fence, as well as NGOs lent their support to Dr Mohd Asri.

One of the best statements came from the Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF). In their statement, they said Dr Mohd Asri’s arrest was an affront to “the spirit of intellectual freedom in the history of Islam.”

They also reiterated that “every person has the right, guaranteed by the Quran, to freely follow and express his convictions, irrespective of whether he is right or wrong.”

And what’s more, they decried the tendency of various groups to resort to “labelling and branding Muslim scholars on the basis of their opinions, with a view to disparage the person instead of countering their opinions with proofs and arguments based on the Quran and Sunnah.

“By invoking the age-old argument of protecting the Muslim community in Malaysia from confusion, these groups have exposed their inability to grasp the spirit of Islam and have only created a hole for them to hide in every time they are intellectually challenged.”

The right to “freely follow and express his convictions” is not just a right in Islam but also enshrined in Article 10 of our Federal Constitution, which guarantees the freedom of speech and which can only be limited by Parliament. Obviously some of these “Muslim” NGOs and agencies like JAIS have never read the Constitution.

Otherwise they would not be writing endless memorandums or lodging police reports against people for expressing their opinion. As the MPF have pointed out so succinctly, not only do these acts violate the Federal Constitution, they violate Islam itself.

It is ironic that the very people who want to establish an Islamic state are violating an Islamic tenet. What’s more, they will no doubt hide behind that same “secular” Article 10 if need be, although given that some of their statements are in fact defamatory, they may not have even that defence.

In many ways, this incident has been a real boon for the Malaysian public because it brings into focus the issue of freedom of speech as never before. We now know that our Federal Constitution and Islam are completely in synch on the issue.

Even more interestingly, Islam does not specifically apply the right to free speech only to Muslims either, thus making us all equal, as we are under the Constitution. Amazing what a little education does to how we think about ourselves.

This is why we should encourage everyone to educate themselves about their religions, including the majority Muslim population in our country.

After all, if we rely totally on agencies like Jais, what happens when they do strange things like arrest highly qualified ulama like Dr Mohd Asri?

We also should educate ourselves on our Federal Constitution so we know our rights as citizens of this country. In fact, it should be a school subject, just as it is in Britain.

But to help everyone along, the Bar Council is organising a My Constitution campaign to educate the public about our Federal Constitution.

To be launched on Nov 13 (this Friday) by the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk V.K. Liew, the campaign aims to get the public to understand, via simple booklets, videos and forums, what exactly is in the Constitution, and perhaps clear up some misinformation about what is not.

An educated citizenry is not just a more empowered citizenry, but also a more responsible one. That surely is a goal that nobody can argue with.

Perhaps it does take an extreme act for us to wake up and understand our rights. The right to speak on anything, including religion, is a right for all, not just some.