This is an absurd legal case with disquieting implications. Alvin Tan Jye Yee and Vivian Lee May Ling are on trial in modern, moderate Malaysia for insulting Islam. Their crime? Inviting Muslims to break their Ramadan fast with “Bak Kut Teh.” The contention apparently is that this delicacy contains pork, and thus that the invitation was an insult to Muslims, causing them humiliation and arousing their anger. The idea that they need not be outraged by a bit of humor, and that allowing oneself to fly into a rage over such a thing manifests an immense immaturity, never seems to enter anyone’s mind. Instead, Alvin Tan Jye Yee and Vivian Lee May Ling are on trial.
Remember: the “Islamophobia” hysteria that groups like the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations continuously try to whip up is tending toward this very thing: the criminalization of the slightest thing to which Muslims might take offense. That would include, of course, any serious examination of how jihadis use the texts and teachings of Islam to justify violence and supremacism. And so the jihad would advance unopposed and unimpeded.
“‘Bak Kut Teh’ means ‘meat bone tea’ and not offensive to Muslims, Court hears,” by Maizatul Nazlina for the Star Online, October 31:
KUALA LUMPUR: The word “Bak Kut Teh” means “meat bone tea” and the usage of the terminology does not cause humiliation to Islam, counsel Chong Joo Tian submitted to the High Court Thursday.
Chong, who is representing controversial sex bloggers Alvin Tan Jye Yee and Vivian Lee May Ling, said the feeling of humiliation was only caused by confusion and lack of knowledge.
He said Section 298A of the Penal Code was basically a legal provision to control, manage and ensure smoothness of the practice of Islam among its followers.
Chong argued that the prosecution’s claim that the words used by Tan and Lee were an insult to Islam was not logical and baseless.
He said the allegation showed prejudicial thinking towards other ethnicities in Malaysia.
“Section 298A is basically and substantively not a law to control public order as claimed by the prosecution,” he said.
Chong was giving his submission in a hearing to strike out a charge under Section 298A(1) of the Penal Code faced by Tan and Lee before High Court judge Justice Kamardin Hashim Thursday.
Meanwhile, Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin said Lee and Tan’s act in inviting Muslims to break fast with Bak Kut Teh during the Ramadan month was clearly an insult to all Muslims.
Wan Shaharuddin said it would surely stir hatred, anger and cause disunity.
He said Section 298A was not exclusive to Muslims and was established to ensure harmony and unity among the multi-racial communities in Malaysia.
“The application by Tan and Lee is an attempt to prevent legal action against their act which threatens the harmony among the ethnicities in the country,” he said.
Justice Kamardin adjourned the matter to Nov 14 for the decision.
On July 18, Tan, 25, and Lee, 24, were jointly charged under Subsection 5(1) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 (Act 620), Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act and Section 298A(1) of the Penal Code.
They were charged with displaying pornographic images on their blog between July 6 and 7.
For the second charge, they were accused of uploading content that could possibly stir hostility among those with different beliefs at a restaurant in Jalan Dang Wangi here between July 11 and 12.
They also faced a charge of publishing a seditious photograph and inviting Muslims to break fast with Bak Kut Teh, together with a halal logo.
The Facebook page was later shut down.
Tan and Lee later apologised for the posting in a 1:22 minute video on YouTube, and said that it was done in humour.