ALSO BY

A kerfuffle over Islam Hadhari

The kerfuffle over Islam Hadhari has left us all shell-shocked. A scatological comparison between Islam Hadhari and money politics on a weblog, which was quickly corrected and the writer banned, raised needless political pressure, fear and doubt if the prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's (Pak Lah) reform agenda is what it says.

It showed, once again, that it takes little for Umno politicians and its acolytes to instill fear on any who differs from its worldview. The Barisan Nasional (BN) government it leads, not to be outdone, rises to the bait and makes it real.

But it missed the point: if the scatological words were replaced with genteel words, would this kerfuffle have risen? It would not.

Underlying it, but unmentioned, is the bad blood between Umno's spinmeister and the blog owner. He picked the issue out of context and raised it into one of defaming Islam, which it clearly was not. When Umno political careers are fuelled by denouncing non-Muslim denouncers of Islam, what happened is not out of the ordinary. It quickly turned, as it always does, into one of national security. The Internal Security Act (ISA) was brought in to threaten those who defame Islam.