Datuk Zaid Ibrahim
He’s got a point:
“Malaysia a religious-fascist state, not a moderate one, says ex-minister,” from the Malaysian Insider, December 16 (thanks to Ed):
Malaysia’s image as a so-called “moderate” nation has been dismissed by a former minister, who said it was closer to being a “religious-fascist” state.
Datuk Zaid Ibrahim (pic) said the ongoing religious persecution of PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu and others before him portends a grave future for religious freedom in Malaysia. Zaid said it was up to Malaysians either to allow this trend to continue or to defend religious freedom.
“We are not only denied political freedom (with the media and the electoral process under government control), but also liberty in matters of personal belief.
“We are already witnessing a new wave of attacks against Shias, which are more often associated with the Middle East and Pakistan.
“The Sunni-Shia warfare has turned the Muslim world upside down with senseless killings and now it has arrived on our shores, thanks to our home minister,” he said, referring to charges against Mohamad Sabu, better known as Mat Sabu, who is accused of being a Shia by the Home Ministry.
Zaid also cited the example of Kamariah Ali and her husband, followers of the Ayah Pin sect, who were prosecuted for following a version of Islam which was not acceptable to the state.
“Years ago, when Kamariah Ali and her husband pleaded before the judges to allow them to be the kind of Muslims that they understood God meant them to be, they were denied.
“The judges ruled that the state had the right to define Islam and that only its version was acceptable.
“They went on to say the state had the right to punish those who deviated from its version of Islam.”
He said Kamariah Ali was jailed and when her husband died, the state denied him a proper burial.
“The state obviously did not consider him to be a Muslim who deserved a proper burial, yet it believed it had the power to punish him for being a ‘deviant’ Muslim.
“The state had its cake and ate it, too: one day it declared a person a bad Muslim who needed to be punished, and the next day, it declared that this person was not a Muslim. And the judges agreed!”
Zaid said few cried foul over this development.
Zaid said what happened to Mat Sabu and others like him would never have come to pass if judges in the country had been brave enough to base their decisions on the law.
“When I first said Mat Sabu should not bother to defend himself when he was accused of being a Shia, my Muslim friends felt he needed to, regardless of the quality of evidence his accusers could provide. They felt that being a Shia was bad for his image.
“If (Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad) Zahid (Hamidi) and Jakim (Department of Islamic Development) think Shias are not Muslims, then why not petition the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Cooperation) and the United Nations to bar Iranians from doing the haj.
“Take to the global stage if you truly want to be a Sunni warrior. Do not bully local Muslims like Mat Sabu,” Zaid said.
“It’s up to Muslims in this country to decide for themselves what kind of Muslims they want to be.
“I believe they have that right under the Constitution. I am a Muslim and that’s all there is to it.
“The state may define Islam as the Sunnah Wal Jumaah variety, but that definition cannot supersede Article 8 in the Constitution on religious freedom.
“The state can advise on what variety is ‘pure’ but it cannot punish Muslims if they prefer a different variety. Punishment is God’s work, not officials”, and that’s central to a country that has a secular Constitution governing matters of faith. And Malaysia is secular.”
Zaid warned that the country could eventually explode like Lebanon and Syria if the prime minister was only interested in high-speed rail link to Singapore and trade agreements.
“We have had many disturbing incidents such as Memali, the Al-Ma”unah movement and other ‘deviant groups’. So how do we manage this potentially difficult and dangerous conflict?”
Zaid said the prime minister claimed to be a moderate and if that was the case, “he should speak out a lot more about the subject in Malaysia. He should also have ministers who are moderate and capable of engaging with difficult subjects.” — December 16, 2013.