Tuesday, November 13, 2012

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM BUT ONLY FOR NON-MUSLIMS?

From The New Straits Times 12 Nov 2012
The on-going controversy regarding Nurul Izzah's statement (see photo) shows no sign of abating, at least for now. We all have our views on this issue, but few would want to express them publicly. In Malaysia, any controversial comment touching on the official religion Islam is considered insensitive and courting public outcry. 

For politicians, it is tantamount to committing political suicide if they are perceived to be supporting a more liberal interpretation of the Holy Quran. Malays who make comments that are deemed to 'confuse' Muslims would invite condemnation from their own brethrens and punitive action from JAIS (Selangor Islamic Religious Department). Non-Muslims in the country know to stay away from getting involved in any religious controversy.

(Click here for Malaysiakini's full transcript of Nurul's Q & A session at the forum.)

A 2007 news report quoting former PM Abdullah Badawi that was picked up by Malaysia Chronicle.

What strikes me as interesting is that opposing parties can quote verses from the Quran to support their respective stand on the issue. Also, it is a little known fact outside Malaysia that only in this country is religion (Islam) synonymous with race. All Malays are born Muslim, and die as Muslims. Any Muslim who renounces Islam or converts is considered an apostate. Apostasy, according to a fatwa, is a national security threat. The punishment meted out by the Syariah Court varies from state to state, from hefty fines to imprisonment and whipping.

A reader expresses her views on the issue (New Sunday Times 11 Nov 2012)

Our neighbour Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world. Approximately 88% of its 238 million people are Muslims. The constitution of Indonesia states that every person has the freedom to choose and practise their religion. Officially the constitution recognizes only six religions, Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Confucianism and Buddhism.  

Indonesian Muslims enjoy a greater measure of religious freedom than their counterparts in Malaysia. As the video below shows, they can work together with other religious groups to help the needy and less fortunate. It is rare to see such scenes in Malaysia today.



I would love to hear what my Muslim friends have to say on religious freedom. But I know they would prefer to keep their views to themselves for fear of inviting visits from the omnipresent JAIS, like what happened to Malaysiakini.

In Malaysia, the law recognizes 21 as the age when a citizen is mature enough to vote, and 18 as mature enough to marry. So at what age is an individual considered mature enough to decide which faith he wants to embrace? The answer for non-Malays is: any age. For the Malays, the question is purely academic. They have absolutely no say in their choice of religious beliefs.

For more about the topic, do read "Fundamental Human Rights and Religious Apostasy", posted on the Malaysian Bar Council website. Very enlightening.


2 comments:

Bananazą®‡ said...

Was moved to tears watching the video with so much loving kindness & compassion. Great post tQ

el-f said...

Ya, truly inspiring!