Our freedom to celebrate diversity

The Malaysian Insider
24 December 2015

Today is Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) birthday and Malaysia is one of the rare Muslim countries to celebrate the occasion with a public holiday thrown in. Not many celebrate it, let alone gazette a holiday for it.

Unlike Christmas, which is celebrated worldwide except in two countries this year and forever – Brunei and Somalia. It would appear that public celebrations of Christmas and in the case of Somalia, New Year, is inimical to their beliefs.

That is their excuse. And the limit to their citizens’ freedom and rights.

But we in Malaysia are a lot more fortunate. We have the freedom to celebrate diversity, celebrating Christmas and New Year despite the views of a narrow section of public that wishing Merry Christmas is not quite kosher.

And we have our many faiths and cultures that have not weakened any one component of Malaysian society but has instead enriched us further. It is not about mutual tolerance but about mutual respect for one another.

We have our open houses for everyone to join in and celebrate the festivities that abound the entire year in Malaysia. We have our smiles and friendship among all, not just within our own communities.

We might not have the riches of Brunei’s oil wealth but even that is fast depleting. So they have nothing to teach us or lead us in how to run a country or protect minorities.

What we must do is to keep protecting this freedom of diversity and not allow such ideas that celebrating the various festivals of many other religions will be bad for us. It has not been and it will never be as long as we keep united as a country.

Let us make sure we keep doing that, today, tomorrow and forever.

Salam Maulidur Rasul and Merry Christmas. – December 24, 2015.

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