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Friday, September 30, 2011

As 'hudud' backfires on BN, a smiling Nik Aziz reaches out to non-Muslims

As 'hudud' backfires on BN, a smiling Nik Aziz reaches out to non-Muslims

With the dust settling on the hudud law issue, PAS' revered Spritiual Adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat has reason to smile. He and his party have won a major concession from coalition partner, the DAP.

PAS' aspiration to implement hudud in Kelantan and Terengganu has been acknowledged by its partners DAP and PKR. Both states have already passed hudud into law at their respective state assemblies and whai is now stopping the implementation is the Umno-led federal government's refusal to give the final go-ahead.

But the 80-year old Nik Aziz, who is also Kelantan Mentri Besar, is no fool. He is also a gentleman and would never think of forcing hudud on the state just to satisfy his own and PAS' staunch Islamic convictions. Already, he has begun reaching out to the non-Muslims to further calm their concerns about hudud, which is feared because of the types of punishment it prescribes which include amputation of limbs, whipping and stoning to death.

"My non-Muslim friends, can I know which part of the punishment is frightening to you," Nik Aziz wrote on his Facebook page hours after the Pakatan decision was announced.

"I hope you are not afraid of hudud due to misunderstanding or misinformation because that could be the only reason for your fear - because of false perceptions or because you do not know or are not sure. And I would like to understand your concern more clearly and to this end, I have prepare many answers to help you overcome your worries."

BN now on the defensive

The Pakatan decision and the open manner in which the three parties - DAP, PAS and PKR - handled the contentious issue has put political rivals Umno and BN on the defensive.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is Umno president, is left looking rather lacking and not just to the Muslims but also to the non-Muslims. In the past week, since the issue was stirred up by former premier Mahathir Mohamad, there has been a groundswell of Muslim support towards PAS and Nik Aziz.

Although there are many Malays who are against hudud and believe it is an archaic law, they still leaned towards PAS in appreciation of its willingness to struggle for Islam. They see in Najib's slick disavowal of hudud a mere political decision, aimed at making himself popular rather than trying to find a way forward from the highly sensitive and contentious issue.

"We stress that we will not be dragged into the desperate political ploy of Umno-BN to drive a wedge between us. We fully believe in the maturity and wisdon of the rakyat to judge this situation for themselves,” Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim had said.

Displeasure with Najib grows in Umno

While BN has been quick to draw attention to the Pakatan's disgareement over the issue, Umno itself was split over hudud while MCA and Gerakan were strongly against it.

Najib's over eagerness to brush off hudud contrasts sharply against his deputy's view that Umno supported hudud but could not implement it immediately. The PM's political faux pas has earned him the wrath of the hardliners in Umno and the anger of the staunchly Muslim.

The return goodwill from the non-Muslims, especially the Chinese, was negligible with many seeing through his ploy to gain their votes along with MCA and Gerakan.

"The insincerity is glaring. Certainly, it will worsen the relations between the Najib and Muhyiddin camp. Within Umno, the calls to get Najib to step down has grown because of the hudud. He doesn't seem to be able to feel the pulse of his own people," Bukit Gantang MP Nizar Jamaluddin told Malaysia Chronicle.

Stunning Facebook support

Meanwhile, in clear testimony to the truism that honesty is always appreciated, Nik Aziz's Facebook has chalked stunning support since the issue gained prominence. He now has at least 561,047 followers.

For one particular post he made on the hudud issue, he received 4,356 comments. At least 9,146 readers pressed the ‘like’ button, while 3,054 others pressed the ‘share’ button to post it on their own facebook wall.

The post that drew so much attention reads as follows:

"Oh Utusan Malaysia, the paper which claims to protect the rights of the Malays and Islam. Are you aware of what you’re doing? Where is the limit to practising politics that you ignore but insist on fooling around with what is clearly stated in the Quran?

Oh Muslims…oh Mighty Lord….oh my fellow Mufti…oh Malay/Islamic NGOs…oh my fellow scholars and young scholars of Umno…isn’t it obvious that this act is an insult to Islamic law?"

Nik Aziz had penned the post in response to a caricature from the Umno-owned Utusan newspaper.

In his next posting, Nik Aziz explained that he rarely reads the Utusan.

“In my opinion, the newspaper seems more like an Umno mouthpiece. This morning I was shown a cartoon sketch that was published yesterday, insulting the word hudud. I don’t want to comment much, what I said was enough, matches the level of thinking in Utusan Malaysia’s editorial board,” said Nik Aziz.

Malaysia Chronicle

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