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I feel Coklat 2004's letter represents the nub of one of the problems facing Malaysia and Malaysians today.

He states, 'There are some fundamental rules and regulations in Islam which should not be discussed even by Muslim without deep Islamic knowledge, let alone by the non-Muslims'.

I feel that this fails to demonstrate cognition of the underlying issue: that Malaysians are composed of both Muslims and non-Muslims, and that in such an integrated society, it should not be surprising that issues that affect one party may affect others.

What is at stake is not just whether we respect another's race and religion, but in recognising when the practicing of one's culture or religion imposes restrictions on others. There must be opportunity for debate that will lead to improvements in civil society.

A good example is the case of the headmaster not allowing students to bring non-halal food to school.

To me, this is a clear-cut case where debate is relevant. It may be that the headmaster has the legal right to impose such a rule. Or that he is fully within his rights as a Muslim to make such a demand. However, to determine any of this without giving due weight to opposing views is one-sided.

An argument along the lines of 'You cannot talk about this, you're not one of us, you're not an expert on the issue' effectively reduces the debate to a childish argument along the lines of 'I'm right, you're wrong'.

I fail to see how this benefits society as a whole.