Who is being unfair to Muslims in Malaysia?
“You concede nothing to me and I have to concede everything to you.”
- Thomas Hardy, ‘Jude the Obscure’
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang's rejoinder “that Muslims have the constitutional right to practise their religion without being disturbed by people of other religions" is the kind of mendacity that I wrote about a couple of months ago.
When it comes to Islam, Malay identity and oppositional politics, I clearly stated my stand - “I have argued that the non-Malay power structures are contributing to the indoctrination process by supporting Umno-enabled institutions thereby setting back any kind of progressive movement in the Malay community. Furthermore, I have been critical of opposition parties that have been reluctant to redefine and propagate ideas that are the exact opposite of the Umno narrative of what it means to be Malay and Muslim.”
What this means is that I will always be extremely sceptical of any political party that attempts to present a monolithic narrative about what it means to be Muslim and Malay in this country. I have also written about my disdain for the “true Muslim” meme that oppositional types like to propagate. This is why Hadi’s recent rhetoric is despicable.
The propaganda of Muslims in Malaysia under siege by “other religions or communities” is an old tactic but what is new is that the demonisation of other religions has become even more overt in recent times because of the acrimonious falling out between the DAP and PAS.
Talking about religion is always problematic which is why making it a political platform is always a double-edged sword. While this is especially true for Islam it also applies to those Christian politicians from Abrahamic troika that needlessly muddy the religious waters here in Malaysia.
Having said that, the reality is that the only people who find themselves disturbed by another religion are the non-Muslims. If there is a disparity in treatment, a lack of fairness, outright persecution or double standards, it is faced by non-Muslim communities.
Hadi claimed, “that teachings of the Quran were suitable for a country of multi-ethnic society because of the emphasis on fairness and brotherhood” and that this was different from the so-called divide and rule policies of our colonial masters.
Umno and PAS usually cherry-pick those "divide and rule policies" that are used as political platforms for their respective bases and form current-day policy in this country but what I would like to hone in on is the absurdity of Hadi’s claim (that he continues to make) about Islam and how it would work in a multi-ethnic society.
We already have evidence of how our dual-track justice system works in this country. We already have evidence of how the state treats its non-Muslim citizens when it comes to Islam in this country. Take a simple kidnapping case.
Inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar refused to carry out a court order because he claimed “he is conflicted” between the custody order of the syariah court and the civil court. In other words, a Muslim convert who had kidnapped his child was free from sanction for a time because the IGP chose not to act.
He finally did his duty when the Federal Court compelled him to - “We are of the view that this kind of conduct cannot be condoned. The administration of justice will be brought into disrepute if the court's order is wilfully disobeyed by a party against whom a warrant of committal had been issued after he was found guilty of contempt of court.”
In other words, a secular instrument (not to mention a colonial construct) had to compel a civil servant to do his duty because he claimed there was conflict with a religious instrument. By the way there wasn’t any conflict, but this is Malaysia and this is the IGP who spends more time patrolling the twitterverse for insults against the Umno establishment...