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Monday, July 22, 2013

Respect all races and faiths

Jeswan Kaur | FMT

With all the racial tension and unhappiness taking place, it is a wonder how Najib intends to pull off the national reconciliation agenda.

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad keeps insulting the non-Malays all the time and not a word comes of concern comes out from the mouth of the country’s leading party, the Barisan Nasional alliance.

Likewise, Mahathir’s protege, Ibrahim Ali who founded the Maly extremist party Perkasa and his deputy Zulkifli Noordin who have little to fear each time they take pot-shots at the non-Muslims.

Then there are others in powerful positions who keep stirring racial tensions by warning the non-Malays to refrain from using the word ‘Allah’.

The word “Allah” has been used by the Sikhs and Christians for a long, long time or for that matter Arab Christians have been using the term “Allah” for over 600 years before the Muslims began doing so?

The word “Allah” is used 12 times in the Sikh holy scripture, the Guru Granth Sahib, by Sheikh Farid, Guru Nanak and Guru Arjan Dev while Sant Kabeer has uttered the word 18 times.

Despite that, Umno continues to live by its fallacy that only Muslims have the right to use the word “Allah” despite the fact that the term has been used by the Sikhs and the Arabic-speaking Christians of Syria and the rest of the Middle East.

Now Kedah menteri besar Mukhriz Mahathir has decided to follow in the footsteps of the rest by barring the non-Malays there from using the word ‘Allah’.

National reconciliation not happening

The country’s Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak talks a great deal about unity and national reconciliation but when politicians like Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar Radin accuses the non-Malays of causing trouble and violating the Federal Constitution when they use the word ‘Allah’, why does the premier not feel compelled to do the right thing i.e. defend the non-Malays?

And as long as insensitive and racist politicians like Ibrahim contine to enjoy ‘immunity’ and go unpunished for insulting the non-Malays, there is no hope for any national reconciliation.

Ibrahim had once publicly demand that Malay Bibles be burnt and yet there was nothing seditious about what he had said.

Just as worrying is the warped outlook displayed by Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria who last year said that non-Muslims who insist on using the word “Allah” to refer to their Gods should convert to Islam if they refused to accept that the word belongs only to Muslims.

The controversial cleric also went on to accuse the Christian community of intentionally provoking Muslims by pressing on with their demand to use “Allah” in their holy book.

Pressuring, threatening and intimidating the non-Malay communities of this country to accept that the word ‘Allah’ is exclusive only to the Muslims is definitely not helping as far as calling it a truce between Malaysians of diverse faith goes.

What is worrying is that there is no stopping the ultra-Malay politicians from pursuing their agenda of condemning the other faiths and portraying Islam as an antagonistic religion.

When bloggers Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee published a photograph in Facebook, greeting Muslims “Selamat Berbuka Puasa” by eating Bah Kut Teh ( a dish with pork serving), it was a case of ‘do or die’ for Umno, the country’s largest political party.

In the end, with pressure coming down hard on the couple, they were charged under Section 4 (1) (C) of the Sedition Act 1948 for allegedly insulting Islam and the holy month of Ramadan. Their bail was rejected and the two went sent off to jail, with Tan to the Sungai Buloh Prison and Lee to the Kajang Prision.

If found guilty, Tan and Lee could face a three year imprisonment or a fine, or both.

Maybe Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail found it “easier” to prosecute the young couple but not the nation’s real trouble makers, i.e. Ibrahim, Zulkifli etc for sowing racial discord?

Respect all races and faiths

The fact that Abdul Gani continues to overlook the racist and seditious remarks made by the likes of Ibrahim and Zulkifli recently prompted several Indian based non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to lodge a police report against the AG.

The People’s Welfare and Rights Organisation (Power) president S Gobi Krishnan has accused Abdul Gani of practising selective prosecution by charging sex bloggers Tan and Lee in court but not Ibrahim and Zulkifli.

Looks like Abdul Gani is more worried about displeasing the ‘powers that be’, hence the quick action to drag Tan and Lee to court and then to jail.

If Tan and Lee have been accused of being insensitive, so too are Ibrahim and Zulkifli and also the Education Ministry when it rejected the application of a student who had secured a 3.8 CGPA in her foundation year in Universiti Malaya simply because the ministry found her name sounding “foreign and Christian”.

Because some Education Ministry official holds a grudge against the non-Malays, this student lost the chance to pursue medicine not only in UM but also other public universities.

So it looks like the problem is not all about Malays and Islam. But why then do leaders of this country not treat the other races with respect?

In September 2010, deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin was quoted as saying that no one would be spared prosecution for insulting any religion practised in the country.

He said the government viewed the matter seriously as it could incite anger in the people and disrupt racial harmony and security.

“We cannot allow anyone, whether the individual is a Muslim or non-Muslim, to belittle any religion,” he said then when asked to comment on an insult to Islam in an account of the Facebook social website.

Three years later, Mahathir, Ibrahim, Zulkifli, Harussani, Bung Mokhtar and many others continue to deride the non-Malays. Can Muhyiddin tell the rakyat why BN refuses to prosecute these people and continues to indulge in selective persecution?

Until then, with all the racial tension and unhappiness taking place, it is a wonder how Najib intends to pull off the national reconciliation agenda.

The truth however is that the rakyat knows the national reconciliation is yet another ‘all talk no action” gimmick coming from the BN government.

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