I refer to Azril Mohd Amin’s letter On the Islamic State last week. While it is pretty obvious and readers have been quick to point out that the guy betrays his BN-friendly sentiments, and offers no substantive arguments over what is basically opinionated factoids, I would like to point out just several issues points he raised that should be rebutted.
Firstly on the subject of Indonesia’s secularism, Azril writes as if the Indonesians, all the hundreds of millions of them, are of the same mind on the matter. Well, I happen to know a fair number of Indonesians who would disagree with Azril’s take on the republic’s secularism. They have often expressed to me their disdain for the Islamists who try to force their values on them, and value the freedom of religion that they, Muslims themselves, presently enjoy.
One friend from Indonesia once told me the fundamentalists were “a joke” while others have in their own way expressed their general antipathy for Islamists in their midst who are trying to press home their religious agenda. Another found Malaysia’s official Islamic zeal amusing. These are Indonesian Muslims I am talking about.
And I would think their opinions, as citizens of the nation, should be every bit as valid as that of other Indonesians who might think like Azril. And I am sure unlike Azril, my friends do not find that Muslims having to take care that they do not “offend” fellow non-Muslim Indonesians isn’t such an outlandish concept.
For a majority group to look after the interests of someone other than themselves may be an alien concept to this lawyer, but consider this - in Singapore, when there is an event, it has become common practice for organisers to cater halal food just in case any of the guests might be Muslim.
Secondly the writer’s condescending attitude towards the basic human rights of gays (Azril: “...demands for legal and public recognition”) as merely a “secular aspects of western liberalisation” is another empty sweeping statement often repeated without any basis whatsoever, the usual style of such commentors.
Without going into argument over the matter as it has been argued to death here, I’d just like to point out the demand of a Malaysian citizen for basic rights is neither a “western” concept nor a “liberal” one, just a humane and an equitable one.
Humane because LGBTs (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender) are humans just like the writer, and equitable because they are citizens and taxpayers just like the writer, and stand undifferentiated from the writer in the eyes of our constitution.
Finally, other than mouthing what sounds like BN-like propaganda about the fantasy Islamic utopia that Malaysia presently is (Azril: “A large part of Malaysia's recent successes in the modern world are due to government support of Islamic style and practice...”), let me burst the bubble of bliss with just a few examples to the contrary starting from the most recent.
Just close your eyes and point to any report: the recent slapping of the Orang Asli kids in Kelantan and similarly abusive teachers cases last year, the banning of Irshad Manji’s book and the judicial shenanigans that are playing out over the matter, the fake ‘Christian conspiracies’ from the likes of Hasan Ali and Utusan Malaysia, the countless bodysnatching cases through the decades from that poor Indian man in Negri Sembilan to the famous mountain climber’s case...
Or S Banggarma’s case where a grown-up can’t even decide her own religion, the numerous child custody cases, the caning of the beer drinking girl, Lina Joy’s case ...
And what of the thorny Al Kitab and the use of the term ‘Allah’ for Christians issue? Surely the government is displaying utmost bad faith in appealing the ruling that the judiciary has already made, one that in my mind and in that of many Malaysians, is a just ruling fit for multireligious Malaysia.
And of course the burning of churches, cows’ heads at Hindu temples, and the list goes on.
And while our friend is touting Malaysia as the model Islamic nation, I would ask what kind of model are we when we are tottering on the brink of economic and social collapse, with a country rife in corruption and crime and economically crippled?
Azril must be either blind, or just a sycophant and self-deluder. Well, live in your fantasy world, suck up to the powers that be, while the future of your children and their children lie at the brink of oblivion because of apologists such as yourself.