Islamic Tolerance Alert: “Temple Demolitions Spell Creeping Islamisation,” from IPS, with thanks to Nicolei:
KUALA LUMPUR, Jun 1 (IPS) – “Why do they have to tear down our temples,” asked A. Kanagamah, a hospital worker. Tears streamed down her cheeks as city hall workers, protected by police in riot gear, demolished a 107-year-old Hindu temple in the city mid-May.
Hundreds of worshippers watched in horror as the workers, mostly Muslims, brought down the roof, pushed down the walls and smashed the deities that immigrant Indian workers had brought with them from South India to provide solace in a strange new land.
“We are poor and our only comfort is our temples and now we are losing that also,” Kanagamah said in Tamil, the language spoken by ethnic Indians who form eight percent of Malaysia’s 26 million people and mostly follow Hinduism….
Over the years, local authorities have been regularly demolishing temples saying the structures were built illegally. Most were small wayside shrines.
However, in recent years, several large 100-year-old temples, built during the British colonial era, were demolished not just because they stood in the way of development but simply because they were classified as “illegal structures.”
It is now a common sight to see bulldozers reducing large temples to rubble and workers to smashing deities before the eyes of helpless worshippers.
“The demolitions are indiscriminate, unlawful and against all constitutional guarantees of freedom of worship,” human rights lawyer P. Uthayakumar told IPS.
He said temples are demolished by the local authorities as illegal structures but the same authorities make it impossible for devotees to get a permit.
He cited the case of a Catholic church in nearby Shah Alam city which got a permit to build a church after 30 years of trying. “What does this say about freedom of worship?” he asked….
It says that it doesn’t exist. It says that Muslim authorities are still operating according to the classic provision of the dhimmi laws, that non-Muslims must not build new houses of worship or repair old ones. If they can’t get away with that outright because of Constitutional window dressing about freedom of worship, put in no doubt to befuddle easily befuddled Western human rights watchers, then they drag their feet interminably about issuing permits.
It is not only temples that are coming down in increasingly intolerant Malaysia.
A country that once boasted an open and tolerant multi-ethnic society s now under siege by a dangerous mixture of Islamic fundamentalism and Malay ethno-nationalism. Racial, religious and cultural intolerance is becoming an everyday phenomenon.
For instance some local authorities want to prosecute couples for holding hands in public because they see it as “˜un-Islamic’.
Around Christmas, last year, authorities demolished a church belonging to the indigenous Orang Asli community, on the grounds that it had no permit.
The police recently ordered non-Muslim policewomen to wear the “˜tudung’ or Muslim headscarves. Some local authorities even want to ban or restrict dog ownership because conservative Muslims consider dogs to be ritually unclean animals.
On May 14 about 500 Muslims stormed and disrupted a forum by lawyers and others entitled “˜Federal Constitution – Protection for All’, called to discuss the rights of religious minorities against encroachment by Islamic Shariah laws….
“There’s a creeping Islamisation in our society and this poses a danger to our secular, multi-religious and multi-racial country,” said opposition leader Lim Kit Siang. “The destruction of any place of worship is unacceptable — the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi must urgently intervene.”…
The architect of Malaysia’s pro-Islamic drive, while serving as deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim says he only advocated the adoption of Islamic values in government and the civil service and not the “Arabisation” of Malaysian society.