In order to drop the well wishes, I had to register myself at his blog, not something I was enthusiastic about, but I did it. Anyway, I took the opportunity to browse around LKS blog and came across an article by Farish Noor that Uncle Lim has posted.
Farish told us that some while ago a far right wing Dutch pollie urged that the Quran be banned on the grounds that it was a ‘dangerous book’ that spread the message of hate and violence. Sounds like some Malaysians ;-) always too keen to blame the song instead of the singer.
Farish said that naturally the Muslim community of Holland and other European countries were terribly upset, averring the talk about banning Qurans was part and parcel of a wider trend of Islamophobia in the EU, essentially racist and an attempt to rob Muslims in Europe of their fundamental rights and liberties.
Then Farish posed the rhetorical question: If Muslims can get so worked up by the fact that some right-wing Dutch politician hungering for publicity can stir up a debate by demeaning the Quran, why is it that so many Muslims remain indifferent to how their fellow Muslims treat the holy texts of other faiths and belief-systems?
A case in point is the recent seizure of thirty-two Bibles from a Malaysian Christian who was on her journey back to Malaysia from the Philippines. Upon arrival in Malaysia, her bags were checked by the customs authorities and all of the Bibles were confiscated, on the grounds that they had to be vetted by the Ministry of Internal Security. But since when were Bibles deemed a security threat in Malaysia, and to whom might they pose a danger?
Predictably the first to react to the seizure of the Bibles were the Christians of Malaysia. But it is sad to note that the same level of anger and outrage that was expressed by Muslims over the Muslim-bashing sentiments of a Dutch politician thousands of miles away was not evident when this outrage was perpetrated on their own shores.
Farish also asked of the Christian (and other) communities: When Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists alike realise and respect the sacredness in the other, and drop the claim that they alone monopolise all that is good and holy; perhaps then we will be one step closer to recognising the fundamental humanity we share with each other – whether we like it or not.
I decided to post my first comment (apart from the speedy recovery) on Uncle Lim’s blog. The following is essentially what I had written but expanded here to include additional material I have subsequently obtained.
I started with a universal truth, that any religious issue may involve and/or invoke irrational emotion, and when that issue is linked with, and thus compounded by another irrationally emotional issue, that of a disliked or feared race/ethnic group (thus the inevitable bigotry), it becomes a situation for intolerant fireworks.
Take the recent case of what the Archbishop of Canterbury was alleged to have said. I regret that the subsequent ruckus has been all bigotry, prejudice and intolerance (with some Malaysians* eagerly joining the lynching mob) without checking or actually evaluating what Rowen Williams had actually said or not said.
* the same shameful behaviour was observed when the Palestinians broke out of Gaza to obtain badly needed food in Egypt. Those clowns attempted to trivialise the suffering of a people wrecked by starvation seeking food as rushing into Egypt to buy cheaper TV. Is there no shame in perpetrating such cruel lies?
In a BBC interview on Thursday, Williams had merely touched on the possible (and unavoidable) use of the syariah to resolve some personal or domestic issues among Britain’s Muslims, much like the way Orthodox Jews have their own courts for some matters.
In fact the following was what transpired in his lecture delivered before an audience of about 1000 people and which was chaired by the Lord Chief Justice. The lecture was the first in a series of six lectures and discussions which are being given by senior Muslim and other lawyers and theologians at the Temple Church on the general theme of 'Islam in English Law'.
The Archbishop actually made no proposals for syariah in either the lecture or the subsequent interview, and certainly did not call for its introduction as some kind of parallel jurisdiction to the civil law.
No doubt an inconvenient fact for the usual mob of bigoted Islamophobes.
It was during the subsequent interview, rather than the wild allegation of proposing a parallel system of law, Archbishop observed that "as a matter of fact certain provisions of sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law".
Then, when the question was put to him that: "… the application of sharia in certain circumstances - if we want to achieve this cohesion and take seriously peoples' religion - seems unavoidable?" he indicated his assent.
It seems that his argument or observation that "as a matter of fact certain provisions of sharia are already recognised in our society and under our law" were completely/deliberately ignored for the opportunity to either lambast him or to exploit the occasion for another round of Muslim bashing. And our local wonders of course predictably and eagerly jumped into the deep end.
Next, for those pro-Zionist Islamophobes, this was what happened too.
At the end of the lecture the Archbishop referred to a suggestion by a Jewish jurist that there might be room for 'overlapping jurisdictions' in which "individuals might choose in certain limited areas whether to seek justice under one system or another". This is what currently happens both within the Jewish arrangements and increasingly in current alternative dispute resolution and mediation practice.
Suck on that.
But you of course will get ultra rightwing British Jew like Melanie Philips crucifying (pun not intended) Rowen Williams regardless of what he might have or not said. Philips has used her Daily Mail columns and her blog to criticise, amongst other issues, progressive teaching methods, scientism, Islamism, and anti-Semitism; to defend Israel; to oppose equal partnership rights for homosexuals - basically the yin to the yang of the Perak Chief Mufti - I hope the two would one day meet ;-)
Wiki also tells us that "In a recent article, she [Philips] criticised the membership and leadership of the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches in Britain, and specifically the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, accusing them of anti-Semitism because of remarks made by the Archbishop about the plight of Bethlehem Christians under Israeli occupation; another factor was an opinion poll showing that the majority of Anglicans were opposed to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank".
No doubt Rowen Williams is a favourite target for her diatribes!
Anyway, back to Rowen Williams - regrettably two items the Archbishop mentioned slipped by either unnoticed or were deliberately ignored in the rabid mouth-foaming eagerness to ‘attack’.
Firstly, his “… much like the way Orthodox Jews have their own courts for some matters.”
Hmmm, that seems OK for those British conservatives. But when it comes to matters Islamic or Muslims, the usual mob would go on a rampage. In Malaysia, it’s the same mob mentality, except the table is then turned around, with some local Muslims wishing to go on a violent jihad, either with their keris-es or mouths.
We also saw that Western double standard hypocrisy when David Irving was hounded for his crazy revisionist book on the Holocaust deaths whilst the British press went into overdrive pontificating on Western values re freedom of expression when the Prophet Mohammad caricatures were published.
(1) What happened to British 'Freedom of Expression'?
(2) European 'Freedom of Expression' took nosedive!
(3) Europe's Dilemma - Holocaust Denial vs Caricatures
Likewise poor Prince Harry was equally persecuted when he wore a swastika armband to a fancy dress party (a fancy dress party, for God’s sake, where one could have met someone dressed as Dracula or Stalin) until he was forced to apologise and his dad had to publicly announced the poor lad (then still young) would be sent to Auschwitz to study (or repent?), all that to appease the Hebraic ‘gods’.
Read Jewish Goose, but no Arabic Gander where Harry was described as 'evil' by a British Jew. Wonder whether that bloke has heard of Sabra & Shatila? Now that's modern day 'evil', yet unrequited!
Anyway, so much for the much vaunted Western
Secondly the Archbishop referred to a Jewish jurist query on the issue of 'overlapping jurisdictions' in which "individuals might choose in certain limited areas whether to seek justice under one system or another", something that is currently happening within the Jewish arrangements and increasingly in current alternative dispute resolution and mediation practice, in other words “… to resolve some personal or domestic issues …”.
Is this so bad? If it’s OK for the Jews, why have there been frothing and foaming at the mouths over the Archbishop’s response to the question of a Jewish jurist? How about some intelligent debate/discussion before screaming about Muslim terrorists ‘chopping hands’ or ’stoning someone to death’?
OK, let’s return to the topic Uncle Lim posted, the illegal confiscation of the bibles. As I have often mentioned before, it has to do with petty officials behaving like religious zealots. It’s a weakness of Malaysian culture that government officers believe they are Datuk Bendahara's transported from the court of Malacca's Sultan Mansur Shah, and often taking it upon themselves to make the 'rules' as they come across a situation they have a personal bias against.
In my post Marina Mahathir on 'The Art of Fear' I discussed what Marina had alluded to, that of those dangerous ‘Little Napoleon’ zealots acting beyond policy guidelines or even regulations.
I stated: Today, many of Malaysia’s social and institutional ills arising out of ethnic imbalance in appointments in all government organisations (the Public Service, Judiciary, Police and Armed Forces, etc) and government funded institutions (universities, etc) have been due to those Little Napoleons’ hands acting beyond official policies. Yes, the implementation went beyond the call of official, though not of covert, duty.
But unfortunately and predictably, the political leaders who were/are in the know and in authoritative positions to slap those zealots back into line have failed miserably to do so. Instead they even cover up or protect their ill disciplined Little Napoleons - remember the previous IGP who threatened UMNO MPs in a private briefing session that if they allowed the IPCMC to be established the Police could not guarantee their successful re-election?
Indeed, what is far more troubling has been the lack of promptness by ministers, including and especially the prime minister, in publicly disowning, if not condemning such illegal/unauthorised actions by their officers. And because there’s so much religion in politics and vice versa, those damn ministers including the PM are kiasu scared that they may be seen to be giving way to the non-Muslims.
So lacking the necessary leadership and moral courage, they would go into elegant silence and act dunno, hoping their officers’ acts of illegality will hopefully go away or be eventually forgotten or subsequently resolved on the quiet.
To conclude this longish post, I repeat Farish Noor’s call to the Malaysian Christian (and other) communities) for them to respect the sacredness in the other, and drop the claim that they alone monopolise all that is good and holy.
In similar tone, if Muslims can get so worked up by the fact that some right-wing orang putih politician could stir up a debate by demeaning the Quran, why is it that so many Muslims remain indifferent to how their fellow Muslims oppress those of other faiths (smashing down Hindu kuil and Taoist temple) and treat their holy texts with disrespect?
Well, kaytee believes maybe that would be too ambitious. Perhaps some of them could start off by not jumping on the lynching mob’s bandwagon at the first whiff of a non-believer (of whatever faith)?