The majority of Malaysians abhor those who for their own narrow interests use religion or other truth-systems to enslave men and women, writes Steven Sim.
In this Muslim holy month of Ramadan, when the Islamic fasting tradition teaches us moderation, self-sacrifice and charity, the world is unfortunately experiencing the unfolding of extremism everywhere.
The sectarian political war in Iraq and Syria has now led to the rise of a new religious fascist regime, with a self-proclaimed “world” dictator who calls for the extermination of not only non-Muslims but Muslims who disagree with them as well. In the latest, the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (Isil) has even threatened to destroy the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam in Mecca.
Elsewhere in China, persecution of religious minorities continues to appall the international community. International news reported that the Chinese authorities have forbidden Muslims in Xinjiang, a northwestern province of China, from observing the obligatory fast during the month of Ramadan.
The denying of Muslims in China the right to practise one of the basic tenets of their faith is against the universal principle of human rights.
I am also utterly disappointed that our prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has openly praised Isil and even exhorted his ultra-nationalist party, Umno, to emulate the terrorist group’s fighting spirit.
Najib’s government has also continued to boast of his good relations including political cooperation with the Communist Party of China, while practising Mccarthyism at home, taunting any political dissent against Umno as being “communist”.
Little wonder, then, that Malaysia is also experiencing government-sponsored extremism from the ban on the word Allah for non-Muslims, to the confiscation of religious books in the national language, Bahasa Melayu, to the “bride- and body-snatching” by religious authorities, to bloodied cow heads, and many other ultra-fundamentalist religious and racist acts.
As a Malaysian parliamentarian, I join my countrymen saddened by such extremism in condemning such criminal acts against humanity.
We extend our solidarity with our brothers and sisters, of all religions and all nationalities, all over the world against greedy and narrow political interests masquerading as lofty religious or political ideologies.
The majority of Malaysians and the people of the world are not extremists. In fact, far from it; we abhor those who for their own narrow interests use religion or other truth-systems to enslave men and women and create a myopic world of their own drunken and perverse minds.
We echo the words of the American civil rights activist Malcom X, who after returning from the haj in Mecca, wrote,
I’ve had enough of someone else’s propaganda. I’m for truth, no matter who tells it [Muslims, Christians, Jews or atheists]. I’m for justice, no matter who it’s for or against. I’m a human being first and foremost and as such I am for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole (words in parenthesis mine). – July 3, 2014.
Steven Sim Chee Keong is the member of parliament for Bukit Mertajam