an atmosphere of fear, intimidation and hatred.
The Malays will become a minority group who are incapable of championing their rights if they continue to be divided, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He said the Malays were now divided into three factions and that only through unity could they become an effective majority group to protect their interest.
“Previously, the Malays were united into one party to the extent that they succeeded in opposing (the proposed establishment of) the Malayan Union,” he said when responding to a question from a participant at the premier lecture by him, entitled “The Development of the Civilisation and Culture of the Malaysian Community Towards the Formation of a Progressive Nation”, here today.
Dr Mahathir, 85, said the voice of the Malays would be drowned if they were divided into several minority groups and needed the support of other groups to achieve the objectives of their struggles to preserve their own race.
Regarding the group who championed the individual’s fundamental rights, the fourth Malaysian prime minister said the original democratic principle that emphasised on the rights of the majority had now turned to the aspects of the individual’s fundamental rights.
He said if the freedom of the individuals was allowed without any restriction, this would create tension in the community.
Dr Mahathir said demonstrations were allowed in a democracy but if they were carried out on a large scale without restriction, this could bring about negative results such as jeopardising business activities.
He said it was also important to develop positive personal values from the young age so that this would continue to be upheld by the people as they grew older.
The same cannot be said of Islam, which remains one of the least understood religions in the United States and Western Europe today. The majority of Americans, for example, do not know enough about Islam to recognize how an extremist interpretation differs from mainstream practice.
Instead, sadly, we have seen cases time and again where individuals equate Islam with terrorism. They express anger about “Islamic terrorism” and fear of a “Muslim takeover” of the government. Stories about President Obama’s “secret Muslim identity” continue to circulate, as do accounts of sharia being forced into the American legal system – despite the absence of any concrete evidence supporting either of these claims.
Can Soi Lek remake himself into a Hero against Hudud
Soi Lek, with the help of MCA newspapers and Umno-linked portals, has tried to portray himself as a ‘passionate’ champion against hudud – the Islamic criminal law that prescribes outrageous punishment such as stoning adulterers to death, whipping, caning, amputation of limbs and beheading for guilty Muslims.
Soi Lek tries to cheat the Malay voters
PKR de-facto chief Anwar Ibrahim has laid to rest concerns that his party might side with PAS in implementing the Islamic hudud law, which prescribes outrageous punishment including beheading, stoning to death, amputation of limbs and whipping.
“When people ask about my stance on hudud, I tell them that PKR and Pakatan’s stance is to support the constitution. But when people ask my personal stance as a Muslim, this is a tricky question. If you answer ‘no’, then you are dead. But if you answer ‘yes’, then tomorrow’s New Straits Times headline will be ‘Anwar supports hudud law’,” Anwar, who is also Opposition Leader, told a dinner-talk at Subang Jaya on Tuesday.
Malaysia’s Federal Constitution bars the introduction of hudud by any state government without the consent of the federal government. Whilst the federal government can only introduce hudud if the ruling party of the day passes an amendment to the Constitution with a two-thirds majority.
Just for Muslims will not arrest ripple effects of such a law
Most of the participants were Chinese from various associations and guilds in the Subang Jaya area.
Although, PAS has repeated that hudud is only for Muslims, there is fear that the archaic law might deter foreign investors, who increasing place a weightage on human rights in the place where they put their funds.
Even Muslims themselves are not all for it, although it is a requirement under the religion. Many see the practice as belonging to a long-gone era and wonder why PAS wanted to turn back the clock in Malaysia.
Anwar, the Permatang Pauh MP, assured the non-Malays in the audience, who expressed their concerns about hudud to him, that he would let his counterparts at PAS know, especially Spiritual Adviser Nik Aziz.
As a Muslim, Anwar said he accepted hudud bbut reiterated that as a governing body, the Pakatan could not endorse hudud given the country’s multi-racial makeup where a susbstantial number of people clearly opposed the Islamic criminal law.
However, his critics have asked why he keeps pointing the finger at PAS, which openly aspires for an Islamic state that includes hudud law, but was silent when Umno declared Malaysia an Islamic state several years ago.
Soi Lek also kept silent when Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin recently said the timing was not right for hudud implementation – implying that Umno would introduce it later.
“The fact is that hudud is now interesting to nobody but Soi Lek himself and the hardcore Muslims whom he is angering with his comments. To an extent it is Umno’s fault for not ticking him off for insulting Islam with all the unfair and one-sided hudud commentS,” said Tian.
‘But it is clear this latest round is also an attempt for the MCA to try and get public sympathy ahead of the general election. Let’s see whether they can breathe life into a coffin.”
Its boss, the scandal-tainted MCA president Chua Soi Lek is quoted by his party organ that the DAP must openly state whether it agrees that the implementation of hudud law will affect not only Muslims but also non-Muslims.
He is not only flogging a dead horse issue, he is just plain stupid.
The DAP is not the ruling government. The Barisan Nasional (BN) is the ruling party and that includes MCA.
BN-Umno-MCA has already declared Malaysia an Islamic state. So, why are you, Chua Soi Lek, not directing the questions to Umno instead?
It is because Malaysia is already an Islamic state that the Islamic authorities, like Jais, can raid a church without any valid reason or warrant. Why is MCA so quiet about this?
Ot is it because the action was conducted by Umno-controlled Jais? So, you don’t have the guts to utter a word?
What is hudud compared to Umno’s Islamic state
Why can’t Chua and his gang accept simple logic? Malaysia is already an Islamic state, so what is hudud?
Hudud is just part of Islam and an Islamic state, so please get this into your pea brain.
It is also baffling why Umno, Perkasa and Utusan Malaysia continue to remain mum with Chua’s continuous spewing of insults to the country’s official religion.
I guess I should not be baffled as it is all BN’s political agenda aimed at manipulating the people’s political mindset towards disunity.
BN’s continuous drive to sow the seeds of racial and religious discord is just not 1Malaysia which is just hollow sloganeering.
Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin has clearly stated that the time is not yet right to implement hudud.
What does that mean? It means the long-term agenda of Umno is also to implement hudud. So, Chua, why don’t you ask Umno, currently the ruling elite, to state its stand?
Only criminals, Soi Lek and Umno fear hudud
There is no need for anyone to state a stand as the issue of hudud is already redundant because Malaysia, as declared by BN-Umno-MCA that Malaysia is already an Islamic state.
So, please stop spewing garbage to ruin the unity of Malaysians.
We demand Muslims to respect other faiths. Likewise, we must also respect their faith and their right to practice.
In Umno’s case, it is using Jais to infringe the rights of others. Do you see such things happening in Kelantan?
Chua, why are you so fearful of hudud? Only criminals will fear hudud, an Islamic criminal law. So, it is criminal-prone Muslims who will have the greatest fear of hudud.
Hudud cannot implemented on non-Muslims and this is something that cannot be changed, domestic or globally. It is Umno’s manipulations, with MCA’s support, and disregard for the rights and laws of the country that is the problem. Not the law.
Aisha Raja is rarely hassled on the University of Toronto’s downtown campus or at home in diverse Markham, Ont. It’s the space in-between – she takes a subway, light rail, and bus to and from school – that is troublesome. When she commutes, she’s not a political science student, a campus activist or a tea store employee. She is reduced to a young woman in a hijab.
“I’ve had random people yell really rude things sometimes, like, ‘Oh, you bloody Muslims!’ and you obviously can’t engage with those kind of people in that time,” said Ms. Raja, the 20-year-old daughter of Pakistani immigrants.
Her experiences indicate that, for some young Canadian Muslims, an “us and them” mentality persists in their home country.
A 2006 Environics poll of 2,045 Canadians bears this out, finding that of those who had rarely or never had contact with Muslims, 49 per cent held a negative view of them. The large majority (70 per cent) of those who were “often” in contact with Muslims had positive views of them.
But regardless of what other Canadians think of them, it’s getting harder to ignore Islam, and young Muslims, in Canada. Islam is Canada’s fastest-growing major religion. According to a Statistics Canada estimate, the Muslim population will soar to 2.9 million by 2031 from its 2006 base of 884,000 adherents.
A population shift alone may not be enough to close the gap between the solitudes. Ms. Raja is optimistic that attitudes will change, but said the responsibility also lies with her and her fellow Muslims.
“I guess people gravitate towards their own community, but for me, I feel like it’s extremely important to engage with the larger Toronto community,” she said.
High-profile stories, including the Toronto 18 terrorism bust, the murder of Mississauga, Ont., teenager Aqsa Parvez by her father and brother, and tales of radical youth travelling overseas on jihadist missions, have left many non-Muslims with a skewed understanding of the religion – a faith whose diversity, especially within Canada, is immense, with differences across sect, ethnocultural or national origin, and levels of adherence.
The same narratives also make some Muslims pessimistic about engaging in community work while representing themselves as Muslims, Rizwan Mohammad said. “They felt almost like, ‘We’re fighting a losing battle.’”
In 2009, Mr. Mohammad set out on a two-year cross-Canada project with the Canadian Council for Muslim Women to better connect young Muslims with their communities. The more than 800 Muslim youth who participated in workshops shared one gripe in particular: their portrayal in the media as an isolated, alienated and – in the case of females – oppressed group.
Although Sana Rokhsefat serves on the University of Toronto’s student union, takes karate classes and wears the same trendy clothes as her peers, she still must battle those who equate her decision to wear the hijab with patriarchal forces in Islam.
She said her Iranian-born parents were surprised when she chose to wear the headscarf in junior high, so soon after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“There’s nothing about me that is oppressed. To have people think that about me is very disheartening,” said Ms. Rokhsefat, 20.
Dispelling the widely held belief that Canadian and Islamic values clash can be a burden for Muslim youth: they often have to correct both their parents and their peers.
Adam Koshin’s Somalia-born parents enrolled him in Islamic schools in Calgary and Regina until he was 13 because they feared he’d “meet the wrong people, start doing the wrong stuff” at a secular public school, he said.
Now 15, with a circle of mostly non-Muslim friends, he still prays regularly and visits his local mosque at least once a week on his own.
Leaving the Islamic school cocoon was a shock to him, though. His friends’ views of Islam were shaped by sensational media stereotypes.
“They think we’re all terrorists and we’re all waiting for 40 wives in the afterlife. All the stuff from the TV. It’s ridiculous,” he said.
Although there are significant Muslim populations throughout north and east Africa and Indonesia, his classmates thought all followers of Islam came from the Middle East or South Asia.
“Most people when I tell them they go, ‘I didn’t even know black people could be Muslim.’”
Muslim youth in Canada don’t practice the faith in any single, prescribed way. Some follow the schedule for five prayers a day with rigour (Ms. Raja has excused herself from exams to pray) while others visit their mosque only a few times a year with their families.
But some young Muslims are reluctant to label or rank their level of orthodoxy.
“Every label has connotations around it, right? I’m not a fan of words like moderate and everything like that,” said Sabour Baray, the 20-year-old president of York University’s Muslim Students Association.
Mr. Mohammad said that when the subject of radicalism came up during the workshops he led with Muslim youth, participants were at first reluctant to talk about the existence of extremist views among their peers.
They eventually acknowledged that “bullying” and “intimidation” with a radicalizing intent occurs at some mosques.
At the same time, young people stressed that simply adhering closely to the Koranic tenets of the faith does not automatically lead to extremism.
Although 15-year-old Emaad Mohammad, the son of Pakistani immigrants, feels a responsibility to correct his classmates’ misconceptions about his faith, he wishes teachers at his Mississauga school took on that cause instead.
“You could learn about math, you learn about science, you learn about all these things, but to learn about people and people around you and their culture and their religion is probably more important,” he said.
Educators have grappled with the idea of bringing education on Islam to public schools.
In 2006, after the Toronto 18 arrests, the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education appointed Sarfaroz Niyozov, a professor with the department, to lead the Muslim Education Project. Its goal was to explore ways to accommodate and teach Muslim students in the public school system.
While school boards may offer a world religions elective to high school students, the majority of teachers, he found, are reluctant to discuss controversial political issues involving Islam: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan.
But inclusiveness in lesson plans isn’t the end of it. While most major universities have designated prayer rooms on campus for Muslim students, that’s not the case in the public school system.
Providing such accommodations should be a priority for public schools, Prof. Niyozov said. Holding back could mean losing more students to Islamic schools or home-schooling, where they have limited opportunities to meet and interact with their non-Muslim peers.
At the same time, school boards must define “reasonable accommodation,” he said.
This spring, a group of parents in Winnipeg requested their elementary school-aged children be excused from music and physical education classes out of concerns about the content of “Western” music and the mixing of sexes.
In their desperation to keep students and compete with private schools, public school administrators might go too far in indulging the whims of parents, Prof. Niyozov said.
Ms. Raja said some of her co-workers have been shy to ask her about her faith when she takes prayer breaks in the back room or fasts during Ramadan. She’d rather be burdened by their questions, she said, than have them hold onto outdated stereotypes.
“An issue a lot of people have is they don’t understand it is a lifestyle … For Islam, you can’t have it separate from the public sphere.”
In recent years, Canadians have had a public and heated debate on the possibility of shari’a courts for Muslim family disputes. For many, the term “shari’a” is usually associated with law, which is one of the things that makes it so controversial.
But shari’a shouldn’t have a place in the legal system, according to Abdullahi An-Naim, a Sudanese Muslim scholar hosted by Simon Fraser University on Tuesday evening. An-Naim gave a public lecture at Harbour Centre, boldly titled “The relevance and irrelevance of shari’a.”
An-Naim fled Sudan in 1985, after his mentor, Mahmoud Taha, was murdered by the “Islamizing” al-Numeiry regime. Residing in the US, he is now a prominent scholar of human rights and the author of numerous books, including Towards an Islamic Reformation, and Human Rights in Cross-Cultural Perspective.
The opening sentence of his famous book, Islam and the Secular State, reads:
“In order to be a Muslim by conviction and free choice, which is the only way to be a Muslim, I need a secular state. Since shari’a principles by their nature and function defy any possibility of enforcement by the state, claiming to enforce shari’a principles as state law is a logical contradiction.”
These statements are a direct challenge to Islamist movements around the world. He also scorned the idea that respect for human rights can only come from a western secular worldview. Clearly, this is a man who is unafraid of controversy.
An-Naim was no less provocative in person. His attacked the very concept of an “Islamic” state as a modern distortion, with no foundation in Muslim history.
States are and have always been political institutions, he argued, and to dignify them with religious identity is to distort religion and create very dangerous political claims to divine authority. Citing Iran and Saudi Arabia as examples of this error, he reminded his audience that faith is a matter of personal conviction, not public policy. A secular state need not mean a faithless society.
For An-Naim, the secular state protects the varied ways that Muslims understand their faith, and their freedom to reinterpret its principles. He firmly opposed any suggestion that Islam required Muslims to observe medieval understandings of gender roles or punishment. While his position may seem radical to some Muslims, An-Naim argues that moderation is the key, not only to being a faithful Muslim, but also to living in multicultural societies. Muslims, followers of other religions, and atheists may support the same set of human rights from very different codes of personal ethics.
Asked to comment on the Arab spring, his response was cautious. It takes time for a rebellion to turn into a revolution, he noted. Islamist movements should be allowed to participate in — and be discredited by — an open democratic process. Outright suppression, in his view, would be an unwise policy.
Abdullahi An-Naim does not fit easily into any stereotype. He is a long time advocate of human rights and secularism who is also a passionate believer in Islam. A Muslim who asserts that the shari’a should remain a private (and evolving) ethical guide.