De facto religious affairs minister Mujahid Yusof Rawa has warned that opposing sentiments concerning Islam have taken hold in the country, aided by “opportunistic politicians”.
He explained that there were those who were peddling hate and enmity in one corner, while in another, there were “unfounded concerns” regarding all things Malay and Islam.
“[...] The country is being dragged into one corner with hate and enmity, while it is being dragged into another corner by unfounded worries over all things associated with the Malay and Islam brand.
“The two (sides) often clash and flood public narratives with the incidents, decisions and statements uploaded onto social media of late,” he said in a statement in conjunction with Merdeka Day on Saturday and Maal Hijrah today.
He was referring to the government themes for both celebrations - ‘Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih’ (Love Our Malaysia: A Clean Malaysia) and 'Negara Rahmah, Ummah Sejahtera’ (A blessed country, a peaceful community) - which were meant to portray a sense of inclusivity and a love for the country.
He said both celebrations have come at a critical juncture, aimed at imparting the message that “Malaysia chooses the harmonious and peaceful road, back to the building blocks of the country”.
“The base is that Malaysia is a democratic, united and tolerant country,” he said.
However, Mujahid, who is a minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said there were politicians who were using the current divide to further their own agenda.
“Politicians and political parties are not helping much to ease the situation; in fact, several political segments see this as an opportunity to help their own narrow agenda.
“[...] These parties appear to fish in troubled waters (menangguk di air keruh), playing up sentiments and emotions.
“They talk about Muslim unity (perpaduan ummah) while on the other end, they talk about Islamophobia…Both groups are increasingly dragging Malaysians into making very difficult decisions! The media is not helping either,” said Mujahid.
The minister’s statement comes in the wake of ethnic polarisation over a number of issues, the latest being the alleged call for a boycott against non-Muslim products and the planned introduction of Jawi lessons in vernacular schools.