It is appalling and sad that the followers of Islam, which genuinely preaches peace, compassion, justice and respect for all human beings, resorted to violent and disrespectful behaviour in registering their protest against the relocation of a Hindu temple by the Selangor government soon after Friday prayers yesterday.
Such unruly behaviour is truly unwarranted and uncalled for especially at a time when our nation is already riddled with heightened political and ethnic sentiments and thoughtless actions deliberately perpetrated by certain quarters intent on driving a wedge between Malaysians of different faiths and ethnicity.
The street demonstration in Shah Alam – although it could be recognised as legitimate in a democracy – should have been sensitive to the feelings of the affected community, i.e. the Hindus, because religion, as we know it, can be very emotive and combustible if exploited for whatever reasons.
Indeed, it is totally insensitive and downright disrespectful for the protesters to parade the head of a sacrificed cow knowing full well that the animal is sacred to the Hindu community. In short, this stupid act was sacrilegious to the Hindus.
It is also disheartening to realise that such an outrageous act could occur in the holy month of Ramadan when Muslims are especially encouraged, among other things, to exercise restraint and have patience and practise compassion towards others. Of course, it doesn’t mean that it would be morally right if this outrage were committed in other months of the Muslim calendar. Muslims are expected to uphold these values and practise these virtues all their lives.
At a time when the nation is about to celebrate its 52nd anniversary of independence, this incident is a grim reminder that our inter-ethnic and inter-religious harmony and unity is sadly at its lowest and crass bigotry is unfortunately on the rise.
Malaysians of all ethnic and religious backgrounds have no reason to be overjoyed with the Merdeka celebration especially when these unthinking rabble-rousers warned the authorities of violent, if not bloody, ‘retribution’ if their demands were not met.
It is of paramount importance to remind ourselves that better ethnic and religious understanding and relations can only come about through mutual respect, tolerance and dialogue – never by losing our heads.
Mustafa K Anuar
29 August 2009