“Anyone who says he knows God's intention is showing a lot of very human ego.”
- Michael Crichton
PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang’s rejoinder to non-Muslim politicians “not to act like Ahok in Jakarta," is just more evidence that this religious cult masquerading as a political party, like Umno, is using a weaponised Islam to threaten, intimidate and harass non-Muslims in this country. It is further evidence that a weakened prime minister has no choice but to play political chicken with this cult that means to turn Malaysia into another failed Islamic state.
Hadi does not tell us exactly what Ahok had done but the implication being he (Ahok) either insulted Islam or interfered in Islam resulting in outrage and retaliation by pious Muslims against interlopers of their scared text.
I however think it is extremely important to understand what Ahok did that has resulted in a veiled threat by a Muslim Malaysian politician. As reported in the Jakarta Post, Ahok, repeated “a verse from the Quran that is used by some Muslim groups to oppose his election as governor. The governor said he meant to criticise the use of religion in politics, but some Muslims took his words as an insult to their holy book.”
You read that right. Ahok cavalierly mocked a verse from the Quran that some Muslims had used to attack him on the campaign trail. Therefore, it is not as if he mocked the Quran randomly or out of context, he was critical of a verse that some Muslims used to justify their bigotry towards his candidacy.
Apropos everything, the Jakarta Post reported on Wednesday “that Jakarta police named Buni Yani a suspect on Wednesday evening for allegedly uploading edited footage that defamed non-active Jakarta Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama - as the incumbent gubernatorial candidate's comments in the video were purportedly blasphemous - and caused nationwide uproar, particularly through mass demonstrations.
“‘We have found sufficient evidence to build a case and name him a suspect,’ Jakarta police spokesperson Sr Comr Awi Setiyono said. Awi said Buni's video post had ignited hatred and animosity among the public.”
In other words, this manufactured controversy was ignited by the machinations of religious zealots in an effort to cause instability by using religion as a means to incite hatred and animosity. If this is not applicable to the numerous religious provocations in this country, I do not know what is.
What exactly is this propaganda meant to achieve? Solidarity amongst the Muslim polity? In another piece, I highlighted the fact that, “Veteran journalist A Kadir Jasin has admitted that the propaganda that he disseminated during his time destroyed the Malay polity.”
This time of course because Umno is in such a weak position, Hadi has been given permission by the Umno state to use its weaponised Islam against non-Muslim politicians. Why? Remember what Hadi said about the current Umno prime minster - “Najib is only human and not a saint, and humans make mistakes, but the act of attacking and bombarding the prime minister with unfounded allegations is uncalled for.”
And really is this not the way of some Muslims who use their holy book to threaten, intimidate and vilify their non-Muslims citizens or political opponents? Have not Malay/Muslim politicians or preachers used verses from the Quran to attack political parties or their supporters here in Malaysia?
Don’t interfere but…
Remember the Pahang mufti who allegedly advocated the murder of the enemies of Islam, I certainly do - “Then we have the Pahang mufti declaring ‘Not DAP only. Whoever is ‘kafir’ (infidel) and against Islam’ and therefore an enemy of Islam [the implication being] who can be killed. Here is a state mufti advocating the murder of non-Muslims and the Umno state remains silent. How exactly is this different from the threats of IS?
Or remember when those reported invaded and mocked another faith and all the then attorney-general said was, “The actions of the two reporters may have hurt the feelings of the people but I was satisfied that they did not intend to offend anyone. It was an act of sheer ignorance. Therefore, in view of the circumstances at that particular time and in the interest of justice, peace and harmony, I decided not to press any charges against them.”
And therein lies the rub. Hadi has publicly stated that he believes religion and politics should not be put in separate corners. Then why is it he attacks those who would defend themselves by pointing out the fallacies in his preferred religious tomb? The answer to that is simple of course.
As I wrote in ‘Behind Hadi Awang’s Islamic state’ – “Hadi’s rejoinder that only ‘Islam has to be the leader and ruler, those who are not of Islam must be followers (pak turut)’ is the kind of bigoted rhetoric that characterises mainstream Malay politics and is the overt ideology that maintains the system of privileges and systemic inequalities that impedes any sort of egalitarians goals in this country.”
To Hadi and his kind of Muslims, religious subservience and political oppression are the only available avenues for non-Muslims. We cannot question their holy book, while they can question ours. We cannot defend ourselves against their religion when they use their religion to attack us all the time.
We are constantly told not to interfere in the affairs of Muslims even though these issues affect us as Malaysians. Hadi and most Muslims politicians in this country will never sign a document that pledges that non-Muslims will not be affected by Islamic law. They will never moot such legislation. They will never debate such legislation and they will most probably use the security apparatus of the system to crack down on such speech or proposals.
Think about it. The constitution guarantees free speech and freedom of worship but the reality is those freedoms have been chipped away for decades. While on the surface we have those rights, slowly but surely, the supremacy of Islam - not as some sort of state religion but as a means of control - have sublimated the intent of the constitution.
While Hadi uses Islam as a mean of control and propaganda, the rest of us including those Muslims who disagree with Hadi, are not allowed to use the religion in our defence or counter attack. When you play with fire you will get burned and this is not a lesson for the non-Muslims but rather for Umno, who thinks that it has a handle on Islam but the reality is that it is spinning out of control.
S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.-Mkini