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.