30 September 2011

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 September 28, 2011
A holistic look at laws needed

Legislation can be interpreted in many ways, and the innocent may end up being wrongly accused just because they look different.

I’VE often heard it said, in discussions on our more repressive laws, that if you never do anything wrong, you would have no need to worry about them.

This reasoning always sounds appealing and if you are not one to think too hard, then there doesn’t seem to be a good counter-argument against it.

But what we often forget is that while laws often seem well-intentioned, the people carrying them out may not be.

A good example is the Patriot Act in the United States. Ostensibly, this is meant to catch any would-be terrorist bent on repeating what had transpired on Sept 11, 2001.

It is meant to keep Americans safe from those who mean harm.

But what has really happened is that the lives of one group of Americans, all Muslims, have been severely disrupted and disturbed by the Act.

Innocent people have been accused of collusion with terrorists, have lost their jobs and, in their daily lives, have to endure insults and humiliation from their fellow citizens.

Even some non-Muslims, such as turbaned Sikhs, have to suffer various slurs just because they look different.

So it may be that you are totally innocent and doing nothing to break the law but once a law is in place, you can suffer from wrongful accusations, and worse if someone merely suspects that you might be up to something.

Donating to a particular charitable organisation, or even buying certain books, can be deemed as proof of guilt.

The good thing about the US is that there are people in the American Civil Liberties Union who are always vigilant about these abuses of the law and will take action to defend the rights of those wrongly accused.

Thus never intending to break a law is not safe enough protection from a repressive one.

There are other laws that some people want to introduce, which they insist will not affect anyone outside its purview, or anyone who isn’t intending to break the law.

The first issue is whether you even know there’s a law you might break.

Secondly, even when you don’t think you’re breaking the law, there is someone else who is sure you have and makes your life miserable for it.

For example, there have been several married couples who have been caught for khalwat, even one non-Muslim couple on holiday here.

Do they get any apology or compensation for the humiliation and embarrassment from the overzealous agencies responsible?

Such laws are not exempt from the test of justice. Just because a particular law is in place doesn’t make it just. That is the worry.

Even if you know you will never break that law, you still have to worry whether the enforcers have any sense of justice at all.

How sure can we be that all the safeguards that we need against being wrongly accused are also in place?

As many American Muslims can tell us, just being of the “wrong” faith is all it takes to make life take a distinctly miserable turn.

It’s also only a certain set of people who are most confident that these laws will not affect them.

Invariably they are elite and have the sort of money that can buy them the best defence.

Again, we need only look at the majority of people caught for khalwat, usually young and poor, to see that laws are not applied fairly across the board.

If you can afford a posh hotel or apartment, you can get away with it.

Similarly, some people have been musing about having laws that punish people for stealing by cutting their hands off.

Other laws purport to punish adultery by stoning those found guilty.

Again, will this mean that those who are poor and caught for stealing petty sums will have to face this, while those who steal millions can get away with it?

Celebrities who get caught for khalwat only need to have a grand wedding, complete with designer gowns, and all is forgiven and forgotten.

If such laws cannot be enforced in the fairest way, then why have them?

This is why we should not have any of these laws at all.

There may be some need for security laws but the intentions and safeguards must be clear and made known to all. They cannot be made redundant by provisions lurking in some other law.

It’s not enough to repeal selective laws. A more holistic look at all laws in the interest of justice and equality is what is needed.

I welcome the recent announcements of repeals of these laws. But like everything else affecting our lives, the proof is in the pudding. Right now it hasn’t even started cooking yet

19 September 2011

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 September 14, 2011
Fallout from Sept 11 still being felt

There are efforts by ordinary citizens all over the world to heal the wounds left by the Sept 11 tragedy. Many people have been reaching out to one another with respect, humility and trust.

UNLESS you’ve been on Mars this past week, you would have realised that it was the 10th anniversary of Sept 11 a few days ago. There had been so much news and stories about it everywhere.

Nobody doubts that the events of Sept 11 10 years ago were a horrific tragedy, and all sympathy should go to the families who lost loved ones that day. But it should also be remembered that the aftermath of Sept 11 has been equally tragic, and is still ongoing.

According to the costs-of-war project at Brown University, a “very conservative” estimate is that about 137,000 civilians have been killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan and that the wars have created more than 7.8 million refugees in these countries.

The Brown project puts the wars’ ultimate cost, including interest payments and veterans’ care, to the United States at up to US$4tril – equivalent to the country’s cumulative budget deficits for the six years from 2005 to 2010. Think of how many people that money could feed and school.

Still in tears: Family members of the Sept 11 tragedy victims attending the memorial service in New York in remembrance of their loved ones.
What have all these gained? Even Americans have been affected by it. Today, they live in an environment so fearful of another attack that they have to suffer the indignity of all manner of surveillance and security inconveniences. One recent op-ed in the New York Times suggested that on balance the infringements on civil liberties that Americans have had to suffer are relatively minor.

It failed to mention that for its American Muslim citizens, these have been major. The blame, the humiliation and the abuses that they have had to endure are not yet over.

But despite all these, and its global impacts, there are efforts by ordinary citizens to heal these wounds. In the United States and several other Western countries, the issues that arose from Sept 11 were not glossed over but discussed and debated as a way to rebuild the broken bridges. Civil society, rather than governments or politicians, have been at the forefront of these.

I was just in Western Australia where I was asked to speak at a conference on Rebuilding Harmony in the post-Sept 11 world. It was heartening to see so many people interested in the subject, and so disappointed by the ongoing violence that has accompanied the event by all sides.

Many Australians had been opposed to the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, correctly seeing that this was no way to have peace.

They emphasised that people of different backgrounds, cultures and faiths need to know one another in order to avoid war, and that politicians should be held accountable for their part in the violence.

In the evening after the conference, we attended a special service at the main cathedral in Perth to commemorate the anniversary of Sept 11. It was attended by all the state dignitaries as well as people from all faiths. The entire service was beautiful and solemn as befitted the occasion.

But what moved me most was something I did not expect nor had ever experienced. An imam from a local mosque got up and recited the Al Fatihah and two other verses from the Quran dealing with compassion to humanity.

To hear the first surah of the Quran recited in Arabic in a cathedral while everyone listened so respectfully was a profoundly emotional experience for me. Never had its meaning been more beautiful.

It led me to think about how elsewhere in the world so many people have been reaching out to one another with respect, with humility and trust. When I heard the Al Fatihah in that church, it made me love my religion more.

The translation was in the programme, along with the words of all the other prayers and hymns that day, Christian and Jewish.

And what struck me most was how the sentiments expressed, while coming from different holy books, were in fact similar. My religion is as compassionate and generous as any other, not just to our own people but to all of humanity.

It made me wonder why this does not happen at home, why there is so much mistrust that nobody steps into a house of worship that is not their own.

Surely to be able to know one another is a good thing. After all, God says in surah Al-Hujarat, verse 13: O men! Behold, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another.

By constantly isolating ourselves from each other, are we not rejecting what our Creator intended?

As Malaysia Day approaches, perhaps we should think about how we can reconcile with one another. Or at the very least, refuse and reject the many deliberate attempts to divide us.

Selamat Hari Malaysia!