Malaysia – It’s now open season for Muslim-bashing


FMT

The Charlie Hebdo tragedy has sparked an outpouring of hate
within the Malaysian online community.

By Hafidz Baharom

charlie2I had never heard of Charlie Hebdo and I am pretty sure many Malaysians were also ignorant of the satirical magazine’s existence until things came to a boil recently in Paris.

However, the outpouring of hate, the siege mentality displayed by people of all beliefs and the politicisation of the event has been outstanding and, to me, hypocritical to the core.

While Muslims have been screaming out that what was done was not the Islam that they practice and preach, Malaysians of other faiths have been quick to say the religion is an instigator of violent behaviour everywhere, including Malaysia.

One such individual is Erik Paulsen, who heads Lawyers for Liberty. At this time of what can only be described as an open season for Muslim bashing, the lawyer took to Twitter to say that the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) has been equally responsible for instigating extremism every Friday.

One would think a lawyer would research his claims before such a snafu, but even more disappointing is that Malaysians were quick to back his claim.

The police are currently investigating Paulsen for his posting, but the Malaysian online community is showing the fractures already.

“Google ‘Jakim Friday sermon’ and read all the news about it. See, there is the proof!” some were quick to say on social media. They were not wrong. The search engine highlights each and every news piece from news portals which spoke of messages attacking Christians, Jews and even gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) Malaysians.

What many failed to notice were the dates of the news pieces or how frequent the media actually highlight these messages appearing in Friday sermons.

What many Malaysians failed to do was to open up Jakim’s web portal and read the sermons that have been delivered in federally funded mosques up to this day. There is an entire archive for everyone who wishes to read them and judge for themselves. (Link to online Jakim Friday sermon archive: http://www.islam.gov.my/en/khutbah-online)

The archive goes as far back as January 1, 2003.

What many knee jerking Malaysians failed to do was to question Paulsen’s accusation and dig deeper to empirically prove that Jakim was in fact guilty of being a purveyor of extremist thought.

Let me raise a question: Is there even a correlation between Jakim’s sermons and a tendency towards extremism?

Since we have some 65 people arrested for trying to get out of the country to join the Islamic State (IS), why not ask them? Have Jakim’s Friday sermons encouraged them to take up arms against infidels and join the global cause to set up a new caliphate in Syria?

There are about 12 million Malaysian Malay Muslims in this country. How many of them actually go about being extreme due to Jakim’s sermons?

I do agree that there are times when Jakim suddenly gets harsh and has a tendency to go to the extreme, but these sermons appear, on average, once or twice out of 52 Fridays a year, unless something happens between Palestine and Israel or some random publication decides to host a Prophet ridiculing cartoon contest.

In fact, I won’t be surprised if this week’s sermon will chastise K-Pop listeners, like the sermon before the Putrajaya Youth Festival debacle a few years back.

I am not defending Jakim. I have a lot of disagreements with the religious authorities, particular the de facto Minister of Religion. And, of course, it does not help that they vilify me because of who or what I am, which I am sure some readers would understand if they go back to January 4, 2011.

However, I am trying to get Malaysians to make their arguments from a position of knowledge because that is what we need in this day and age. We need more Malaysians to be more intellectual in their arguments instead of being reactionary sheep who have nothing better to do than to gossip and instigate other citizens into a hate filled, rhetorical, political online argument of tit-for-tats going down the long, bloody history of Christians, Jews, Muslims and all other beliefs through the ages.

It takes away time better spent discussing solutions to problems that matter to Malaysian citizens — corruption, abuse of authority from those in power all the way down to resident associations in Cheras, collapsing green lungs, natural disaster mitigation, the increasing opaqueness of corporate Malaysia. The list is rather long.

And finally, I disagree with the use of the Charlie Hebdo tragedy as an excuse to keep the Sedition Act.

Related read

A rejoinder to ‘Of Charlie Hebdo and Friday sermons’

“…there are times when Jakim suddenly gets harsh and has a tendency to go to the extreme, but these sermons appear, on average, (only) once or twice out of 52 Fridays a year.”  – The Malaysian Insider

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