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Friday, July 14, 2017

Public flogging replaces ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ slogan



“There must have been a moment, at the beginning, were we could have said - no. But somehow we missed it.”
- Tom Stoppard, ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead’
When Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi says that the amended enactment allowing for (amongst other things) public whipping in Kelantan only affects Muslims, it is yet again another falsehood told by the state to non-Muslims in this country.
There is empirical evidence - something I know that some Muslims frown upon - which collaborates the fact that anything concerning Islam in this country affects every single citizen in this country. Furthermore, there is ample evidence that the minions of Umno are exempt from the harsh glare of Islamic laws which is not the reality for every other Muslim in this country.
While corruption scandals will never be investigated and wrongdoers subjected to public canings, there will be hundreds of Muslims who will be subjected to such public humiliations for “crimes” that ultimately do not affect the country as the crimes committed by the political elites and rich Muslim cabals. 
When it comes to justice and fairness, remember what PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang said about the prime minister despite the mountain of evidence of moral and criminal wrongdoing surrounding the 1MDB fiasco -
“As reported in the press, Hadi has no problem saying that 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.”
“In other words, Hadi condemns the so-called ‘unfounded allegations’ and dismisses the alleged corruption scandals against the current Umno prime minister as the regular failings of human being. Is this what his syariah system would look like?”
So, when the Kelantan state government warns non-Muslim political parties not to meddle in the affairs of Islam, I say to the Kelantan state government - when Islam does not intrude into the lives of non-Muslims is the day I, as a non-Muslim, will stop commenting on Islam in this country. Do I need to remind anyone that the rhetoric coming out of many Islamists in this country that our rights as non-Muslims should be curtailed?
I think I will. Remember when Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Jamil Khir Baharom wanted Umno to crack down on religious pluralism because “there were numerous organised efforts being carried out to challenge the freedom allowed in Islam”?
Here was my response to that horse manure - “What exactly does ‘freedom allowed in Islam’ mean? My own thinking is that the way Islam is defined by the Umno state, ‘freedom’ means freedom to curtail the rights enshrined in our constitution. Freedom means the freedom to not enforce secular laws when it comes to conflict with Islamic laws. Freedom means the freedom to impose religious edicts on non-Muslims because the religious sensitivities of Muslims are paramount. Freedom means the freedom to restrict laws that make it easier for the citizenry of this country to express their opinions and dissent in a very public manner.”
A prime example of how Islamic imperatives affect non-Muslims is unilateral conversions. Furthermore, this phenomenon and the state’s reluctance to settle this issue once and for all, and the various Islamic hate peddlers from within and outside the Umno state who hamper any form of secular reform to this issue, points to the siege that non-Muslims are under from the Islamists in this country.
As I detailed in another piece - “Islamists like Hadi and the numerous other peddlers of hate like to remind us that their laws do not affect non-Muslim communities. We are told that we are bullying the Muslim community by arguing for rights applicable to all. We are warned that our secular trespass into their religious domain would lead to violence. Unilateral conversion is the corrosive truth that it is the Islamists who would invade our sacred domain of family in the name of their religion.”
It’s not about whipping
What would happen if a state decides to carry enact secular enactments which as defined by the constitution but runs afoul of Islamists who see it as an “an attack” on Islam? You better believe that the Umno federal government would step in and the Islam would be used as a rallying cry against those Malaysian citizens who believe in the supremacy of the constitution and that all Malaysians regardless of ethnicity or religion deserve the rights enshrined in the Malaysian constitution and common basic standards of treatment.
I guess because we have Muslim opposition candidates who bend over backwards when it comes to anything Islamic in this country, someone like Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Azalina Othman Said can make the claim that state’s right is immune from federal scrutiny. If the day comes when an opposition-controlled state decides to rethink the way how Islam is practised in the state, would someone like Azalina be so gung ho on state’s rights?
Let me be very clear. This is not an issue about canning. Singapore carries out whippings - I personally believe that corporal punishment like canning should only be carried out in the armed services - and most people do not seem to have a problem with that, which I find strange. Malaysia too has whippings as a form of punishment for several offences. So, this is not an “Islamic” issue when it comes to this form of punishment.
While you could make the argument that the offences in Islam sanctioned by whipping are different from those under secular law, it should not make any difference for anybody against whipping as a barbaric form of state sanction.
No, this is about how Islam as practised in this country and most Islamic states attempts to normalise brutality in the guise of religious piety, circumvent secular law as a sign of superiority and humiliate Muslims by subjecting them to public ridicule as a means to ensure compliance.
We have all seen those videos online of public whippings and beheadings that happen in Muslim countries. Some Muslims take great pride in those acts of barbarity. Some Muslims I have talked to - not necessarily politicians - approve of how Islam is promulgated in this country and are supportive of those they claim to know what is best for Islam and Muslims in this country.
Can anyone tell me the difference between an Islamic State video of public canings and beheadings and the videos of public canings and beheadings that goes on in Saudi Arabia for instance? Could anyone tell the difference between public caning that would happen in Kelantan and those depicted in IS propaganda videos?
People will not talk about Malaysia being truly Asia. There will talk about how this supposedly moderate Muslim country bent over backwards for the Islamists because we have a compromised prime minster.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy.- Mkini

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