Archive for category Islam

Growing Islamic fundamentalism seen pushing Malays to quit country

by Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
October 30, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Malays could be next in line after the Chinese to leave the country, in a bid to escape the growing religious fundamentalism and authoritarianism that leaves little room for free thought and dissent, according to activists and observers.

While Malaysia bills itself as a moderate Muslim nation, recent developments have demonstrated an increasingly conservative and hard-line approach to Islam here that is intolerant of cultures and practices not sanctioned by religious groups and authorities.

Malaysians for Malaysia convener Azrul Mohd Khalib said the Friday sermons prepared by the religious authorities that paint non-Muslims as enemies of Islam, as well as the use of labels such as liberalism, pluralism and humanism to vilify fellow believers, have dismayed and scared Muslims.

“Thinking Muslims are being marginalised and persecuted,” Azrul told Malay Mail Online yesterday.

“It is creating a climate of fear, suspicion and prejudice. Because of that, Muslims who do not prescribe to that belief system do not see themselves as being welcomed or even tolerated in this country,” the social activist added.

Azrul said many Muslims have started emigrating in the past 15 years based on anecdotal evidence, noting that Islamic authorities prohibit dissent and discussions of the country’s predominant religion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Interview with an Islamic State Recruiter: ‘Democracy Is For Infidels’

Interview Conducted by Hasnain Kazim
Spiegel Online

How does Islamic State think? How do its followers see the world? SPIEGEL ONLINE met up with an Islamic State recruiter in Turkey to hear about the extremist group’s vision for the future.

The conditions laid out by the Islamist are strict: no photos and no audio recording. He also keeps his real name secret as well as his country of origin, and is only willing to disclose that he is Arab. His English is polished and he speaks with a British accent.

He calls himself Abu Sattar, appears to be around 30 years old and wears a thick, black beard that reaches down to his chest. His top lip is shaved as is his head and he wears a black robe that stretches all the way to the floor. He keeps a copy of the Koran, carefully wrapped in black cloth, in his black leather bag.

Abu Sattar recruits fighters for the terrorist militia Islamic State in Turkey. Radical Islamists travel to Turkey from all over the world to join the “holy war” in Iraq or Syria and Abu Sattar examines their motives and the depth of their religious beliefs. Several Islamic State members independently recommended Abu Sattar as a potential interview partner — as someone who could explain what Islamic State stands for. Many see him as something like an ideological mentor.

He only agreed to an interview following a period of hesitation. But after agreeing to a time and saying he would name a place in due time, he let the appointment fall through. The next day, though, he arranged another meeting time, to take place in a public venue. And this time, he appears: a man with brown eyes behind frameless glasses. He seems self-confident and combative. He orders a tea and, throughout the duration of our meeting, slides his wooden prayer beads through his hands. Read the rest of this entry »

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Call on Najib to announce a “zero tolerance” policy for any threat to burn any holy books of any religion in Malaysia to be a role model of moderation for other countries as part of his Global Movement of Moderates campaign

The explanation by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) on Monday on why the Attortney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail has not prosecuted the Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali for his threat to burn the Malay-language Bible has added salt to the wound, as it failed not only to win over doubters but have been received with scorn and rejected outright by majority of the critics.

What is worse, it reinforced the perception that the AGC’s arguments that Ibrahim Ali should enjoy immunity and impunity from legal sanctions because he was defending the sanctity of Islam and was protected by Article 11(4) of the Constitution were not only shallow, superficial and cock-eyed but reflects a Public Prosecutor who has failed in his duties to be a responsible and trustworthy upholder of the rule of law and the protector of inter-racial and inter-religious unity and harmony in a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.

The Monday statement from the AGC said Ibrahim had made the threat of burning the Bible “in the context of an incident in Jelutong, Penang, where copies of the Bible were distributed to members of the public, including Muslims” and “After the context had been studied as a whole, Ibrahim Ali’s statement does not fall into the category of having seditious tendencies”.

Does this mean that there are certain “context” where it is fully permissible to threaten the burning of the Bible? Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia’s Dog Issue – A Petty Problem?

by MASTURAH ALATAS
CounterPunch
October 27, 2014

On Sunday, 19 October 2014, as I was scrolling through Facebook posts, one image struck me in a way no other has in a long time. I have several Malaysians on my friends list, so it is not unusual for me to see pictures of hijabed Malaysian women show up in my news feed.

But this one of a young Malay woman, her head covered with a yellow tudung, was completely different. It accompanied a Malaysian Insider report headlined ‘ ‘I want to touch a dog’ event an attempt to insult Malaysia’s clerics’. What was striking about the image was that it showed this woman actually holding a dog, a Pomeranian, its open mouth, tongue dangling, just inches from her smiling face.

The event was held in the middle class suburb of Bandar Utama just outside Kuala Lumpur, and drew hundreds of participants. It was aimed to break the taboo that many Malaysian Muslims have against dogs, remind participants that dogs are God’s creatures, too, and educate them about dog rescue and cleansing practices after handling a dog.

I instantly recognized the subversive value of the image. A Malay touching a dog? But we are told that Malays don’t touch dogs because they believe their religion, Islam,—in particular the Shafi’i school of Sunni Islam that is practiced in Malaysia—tells them that dogs are unclean. Read the rest of this entry »

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Ridiculous to stop non-Muslims from using ‘Allah’, says Muslim Brotherhood leader

by Mohd Farhan Darwis
The Malaysian Insider
19 October 2014

Prohibiting non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” is ridiculous, says Kuwait’s Muslim Brotherhood leader Dr Tareq Suwaidan.

He said this was because there was no law or ruling within the Islamic realm which prevented the use of the word by non-Muslims.

“I have been following this development in Malaysia, this use of the word ‘Allah’… there is no law in Islam that says so,” he told a forum organised by PAS international committee last night.

He noted that there were many instances in Islamic history where non-Muslims had been encouraged to use the Arabic word “Allah”.

“Do not be confused, this is just wrong, I have hundreds. No, thousands of proof on this,” he said, in front of a crowd of 100. Read the rest of this entry »

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Amid fears over IS, academics claim ‘Salafism’ now usurping Malay culture

by Pathmawathy Subramaniam
The Malaysian Insider
October 18, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — Academics warned today of the rise of “Salafism” in Malaysia, an ultra-conservative brand of Islam that they claimed has been seeping into local Malay culture and traditions, and driving the country’s dominant ethnic group further off the path of moderation.

Singapore-based sociologist Dr Syed Farid Alatas said that the Salafi movement — whose followers believe that the earliest teachings of Islam represent the purest form of the religion — defines Islam based on a “narrow point of view” and rejects the religion’s “intellectual traditions”.

The Salafi movement subscribes to the “most extreme of form of extremism”, the National University of Singapore (NUS) associate professor added, citing the growing influence of the Islamic State (IS) jihad in Syria and Iraq as an example.

“This is an imbalance of regulation and respect for the sanctity of personal life,” he told about 100 participants at a roundtable discussion on the threat of religious fundamentalism organised by the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) today.

In the Malaysian context, Syed Farid added that there now appears to be “great deal” of rejection of previous cultural practices that were once accepted as the norm among Malay-Muslims here.

In its place, locals are now adapting to the Salafi way of life, which they accept as “legitimate and in line with Islam,” he said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Religious, ethnic hatred top global threat for Malaysians, poll finds

by Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
October 17, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 17 ― Nearly one-third of Malaysians see religious and ethnic hatred as posing the greatest danger to the world, according to the latest survey finding by Pew Research Center, a concern shared by Indonesia amid simmering religious tensions in both countries and the rise of violent militant Islamist groups.

The Washington-based research group’s Greatest Dangers in the World survey released yesterday showed 32 per cent of Malaysians who cited religious and ethnic hatred as the biggest global threat today.

In contrast, 22 per cent Malaysians surveyed pointed to nuclear weapons, 16 per cent said environmental damage, 13 per cent cited increasing income inequality and 12 per cent highlighted AIDS and other diseases as major global threats.

In neighbouring Indonesia, home to the world’s biggest Muslim population, 26 per cent of its people polled also cited religious and ethnic divisions as the main threat to the world compared to other Southeast Asian nations like Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines which are more concerned with environmental issues.

Concerns about religious and ethnic hatred ranked the highest in Malaysia among Asian countries, followed by Bangladesh (30 per cent), Indonesia (26 per cent) and India (25 per cent). Read the rest of this entry »

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Terrorising the Christian minority

Boo Su-Lyn
Malay Mail Online
OCTOBER 17, 2014

OCTOBER 17 ― De facto law minister Nancy Shukri sparked an outrage when she said that Datuk Ibrahim Ali was not prosecuted over his threat to burn Christian bibles because the authorities had concluded that the Perkasa president was merely defending Islam.

According to her, the Attorney-General’s Chambers had decided that Ibrahim’s alleged call for Muslims to torch Malay-language bibles containing the word “Allah” was in line with Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution that prohibits the proselytisation of other faiths to Muslims.

Malaysian law does not address hate crimes per se; Ibrahim was investigated under Section 298 of the Penal Code that outlaws wounding the religious feelings of another.

News portal Free Malaysia Today quotes Ibrahim as saying at a press conference on January 19, 2013: “Muslims must unite to protect their religion. They must seize those Bibles, including the Malay editions, which contained the term Allah and other Arabic religious terms, and burn them.”

The Malay right-wing group chief was purportedly responding to a claim that Christian bibles were being distributed to students, including Malays, at a secondary school in Penang.

The government’s explanation that Ibrahim was merely trying to protect the sanctity of Islam gives the false impression that Islam is under attack in the country, and hence, it is fine to do whatever it takes ― even burning the holy books of a minority religious group ― to defend it. Read the rest of this entry »

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Can state Islamic authorities decide what you can’t read?

By Zurairi AR
Malay Mail Online
October 9, 2014

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 9 — In a landmark case that will determine the extent of the freedom of expression in Malaysia, the country’s top court will weigh today the constitutionality of a state Shariah law to ban “religious” publications deemed against Islam.

Local publishing house ZI Publications Sdn Bhd and its director Ezra Zaid are challenging a Selangor state law that essentially criminalises any person who “prints, publishes, produces, records, or disseminates in any manner any book or document or any other form of record containing anything which is contrary to Islamic Law”, or “has in his possession any such book, document or other form of record for sale or for the purpose of otherwise disseminating it”.

If found guilty under Section 16(1) of the Syariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995, the offender faces a fine not exceeding RM3,000 or two years’ prison, or both.

In addition, Section 16(2) of the same law empowers the state Shariah Court to order any book, document or other form of record to be “forfeited and destroyed”, even when nobody is convicted under Section 16(1). Read the rest of this entry »

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In hunt for Malaysians joining Islamic State, a faceless menace

by Yiswaree Palansamy

Malay Mail Online
October 6, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — It could be anyone. The next Malaysian leaving to join the Islamic State (IS) jihad in Syria could be the besuited man reading from his tablet computer sitting to your right on the train to work.

Or it might be the typical college-goer, clad in jeans and a T-shirt, seated your left and scrolling through his smartphone.

This is how obscure the profiles of young Muslims aspiring to join jihadist militant movement that police investigators are discovering in their bid to stem the tide.

According to Bukit Aman’s counter-terrorism division senior official Datuk Ayub Khan, gone are days when those involved were the stereotypical bearded men wearing serbans and carrying prayer beads.

“They come from various backgrounds now. Not a specific group like in the case of now defunct terrorist group, Kumpulan Mujahidin Malaysia (KMM), or Malaysian Mujahideen Movement, where religious schools were used to recruit for jihadists cause.

“It is all encompassing- from those in the private sector, your local grocery shop owners and even businessmen,” Ayub told Malay Mail Online. Read the rest of this entry »

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Secularism and a more honest Islam

Zairil Khir Johari
The Malaysian Insider
4 October 2014

Secularism and liberalism are not unfamiliar terms in this country, although how Malaysians understand them is a different matter altogether.

In the halcyon post-Merdeka days, our founding fathers would proudly proclaim such ideals to be their philosophical bedrock, so much so that the word liberal actually appears in the preamble to the Rukunegara (national principles). To be secular and liberal was to be constitutional and inclusive.

Things have changed much since then. Today, the very same terms are used deleteriously as a mark of shame, such that it has become the proverbial scarlet letter of the Malay-Muslim society. To be secular and liberal is to be ungodly and aberrant. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jamila Rahim better off in DAP than Isma, Umno, says Khalid

by Puteri Sabira
Rakyat Times
5 October 2014

PAS Central Committee member and Shah Alam Member of Parliament Khalid Samad says that Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) has no place in Malaysia with its extremist views.

Khalid has hit out at ISMA that had described DAP’s new recruit, Jamila Rahim, as a “confused Muslim” and challenged her to prove that the DAP would bring her any closer to achieving her goal of justice.

“PAS is definitely is a better choice for Muslims, but people are entitled to join any political party, I think it’s better for Jamila (left) to join DAP rather than ISMA or Umno,” he told The Rakyat Times when contacted.

Khalid stressed that DAP is a party that champions justice and holds firmly to its principles.

” Transparency, justice and integrity are part of Islamic teaching, therefore it’s crucial for people to uphold these values as long as it was in line with Islam,” Khalid added. Read the rest of this entry »

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Sentiment divided at haj pilgrimage over role of Islamist militants

By Amena Bakr
Reuters
October 3, 2014

ARAFAT Saudi Arabia (Reuters) – Former Egyptian army officer Suliman Ouda minced no words as he climbed Mount Arafat, denouncing Islamist militants in Syria and Iraq as terrorists.

But Syrian engineer Ahmed Orabi, standing nearby on the hill where Muslims on their haj pilgrimage beg God’s forgiveness, disagreed.

“Islam is about peace and kindness, not murder and violence, and I don’t consider these fighters in Iraq and Syria to be Muslims,” Ouda told Reuters as he joined the mass of pilgrims early on Friday. “They bring shame to the word Islam.”

Orabi, in his 40s, served time in Syrian prisons for criticising the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before fleeing to Turkey. One of his sons was still in jail.

“If the Islamic state, or Nusra, or any other group can fight the government, I’m in full support of them,” he said in a hushed voice.

“Bashar is the terrorist here, Iran is the enemy. And although I can’t raise my voice today and say that, I’m crying out to God in my heart to give victory to those brave Islamic fighters.”

The haj, a hectic journey that brings millions from around the world to Mecca and Mount Arafat, is tinged this year with concerns over the threat posed by Islamist militants who threaten to target allies of the United States, including Saudi Arabia. Read the rest of this entry »

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At haj, Saudi Arabia clerics step up anti-Islamic State drive

By Amena Bakr

Reuters
MINA Saudi Arabia
Oct 4, 2014

(Reuters) – Taking aim at Islamic State, Saudi Arabia has mounted a battle for hearts and minds at this year’s haj, warning pilgrims that the hardline group is “evil” and seeking to recruit their children to fight in Iraq and Syria.

As millions of pilgrims visited the holiest sites in Islam on the second day of the annual pilgrimage on Saturday, global leaders condemned the fourth beheading of a Westerner by Islamic State insurgents.

Saudi Arabia declared Islamic State a terrorist organization in March and sharply stepped up denunciations of the group after its fighters made rapid territorial gains in Iraq in June. Read the rest of this entry »

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Eat. Pray. Jihad. Malaysians fighting for IS in Syria say Prophet demands it

The Malay Mail Online
September 29, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 ― Ahmad Salman Abdul Rahim chose to leave his job at a Malaysian construction company to fight alongside jihadists in Syria for a reason he says is 1,400 years old: The Prophet Muhammad demands it.

Muhammad, the founder of Islam, once advised a companion to fight in the area that makes up modern-day Syria and predicted that Allah would send an “army of mujahideen” to the region, Ahmad said. He said he’s there to avenge Muslims tortured and killed by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

“We are portrayed as terrorists but I don’t care as this affair is between me and God,” UK-educated Ahmad, 38, said via Facebook messages from near Kfar Zeta in Syria’s Hama region. “Many of the end-of-times battles will happen around Syria. That’s among the reasons why I am here.”

As nations around the world grapple with the threat of Islamic State, the Southeast Asians fighting in the Middle East pose a risk in several ways, security analysts say. They could return and breathe new life into militant groups in a region with a history of extremism and occasional large-scale terror attacks, and they could radicalize friends and family at home via social media, aided by slick Islamic State promotional videos.

“It is not IS per se that might pose a danger to the region but rather its extreme militant ideology as well as the skills, battleground experience and international networks that Southeast Asian jihadists got from Syria and Iraq,” said Navhat Nuraniyah, an associate research fellow at Singapore’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies who looks at terrorism and radicalization. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib should move a motion when Parliament meets on Oct. 7 to condemn in unambiguous and unconditional terms the extremism, violence and barbarism of ISIS

I commend the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak for his speech at the United Nations General Assembly unambiguously and unconditionally denouncing ISIS and his call on the global community to defeat violent extremism and religious intolerance.

In his speech, Najib condemned the violent extremists that have declared an Islamic state in Syria and Iraq, and destroyed lives and communities and destabilised fragile nations and threatened regional security.

Najib said: “They challenge the very notion of the state. They call our youth with the siren song of illegitimate jihad. And they demand all Muslims swear allegiance to their so-called caliph. That demand will never be met.

“We reject this so-called Islamic State. We reject this state defined by extremism. And we condemn the violence being committed in the name of Islam.

“Around the world, Muslims have watched in despair as our religion – a religion of peace – has been used to justify atrocities. We have turned away in horror at the crucifixions and the beheadings. We have mourned the sons who have been stolen, and the daughters sold.

“We know that the threat to world peace and security is not Islam, but extremism: intolerant, violent and militant extremism. The actions of these militants are beyond conscience and belief. They violate the teachings of Islam, the example set by the Prophet Muhammad, and the principles of Islamic law.”

Four days ago, I had given at least three reasons why Najib Razak should unambiguously and unconditionally denounce ISIS in his United Nations General Assembly speech yesterday, viz: Read the rest of this entry »

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Why did Islamic State militants execute James Foley? (+video)

By Howard LaFranchi
Christian Science Monitor
August 20, 2014

WASHINGTON — The video of the beheading of American journalist James Foley features a black-robed Islamic State militant claiming – in British-accented English – that the execution is in retribution for recent US air strikes against IS forces in Iraq.

The video also shows another prone and bound captured American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and issues a warning that he will suffer the same fate if the US pursues its military campaign against fighters for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

But while the IS militants who made and disseminated the gruesome video may have aimed on one level to halt the US air strikes, experts in Islamist terrorism and its messaging say the group had a range of objectives and audiences in mind. Read the rest of this entry »

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Minister, who really is ISIS?

KJ John
Malaysiakini
Aug 19, 2014

Malaysia is not an Islamic state or a Muslim nation-state, but a Muslim-majority country which is well regarded by most of the world for our unity-style moderate government and our consistent principled stand on global issues; within the larger paradigm and context of a Muslim world which appears often confused or inconsistent on universal issues and values; mostly internal but some global inaction as well.

While it is not my purpose to highlight any failures of our Foreign Affairs Ministry, we have to manage Malaysia’s reputation which had been put on a global scale which is still much respected for our principled position, as exemplified by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, especially on the issue of a racist South Africa.

Today however, we appear somewhat inconsistent in a number of foreign policy issues and global actions. For example, for me it is still not very clear if and whether the government of Malaysia did pay a few hundred millions for the release of our cockpit recorders for the downed MH17. Is then negotiating with International terrorists’ part of our new foreign policy?

For another instance, we have not ratified many international agreements and conventions; can the minister please explain the delay especially since we are now fighting so hard to sit not only on the UN Human Rights Council but also seeking to occupy one of the UN Security Council’s non-veto seat. Read the rest of this entry »

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On authorities’ alleged selective prosecution

– Lim Chee Wee
The Malaysian Insider
5 August 2014

Recent attempts to question the authorities’ purported inaction over cases involving non-Muslims’ alleged disrespect for Islam will only heighten racial tension. This is most irresponsible and unnecessary at a time when we can do with more goodwill among the different races.

On Sunday, Mingguan Malaysia in a column by Awang Selamat and Federal Territory Umno Youth chief, Mohd Razlan Muhammad Rafii had suggested that the authorities practiced selective prosecution by not acting against those who had insulted Islam. The argument was that Islamic preacher Shahul Hamid was swiftly picked up for questioning after a video of him insulting Hindus went viral on social media. Meanwhile, two individuals who had made disparaging remarks about Islam are still on the loose. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib should be a voice of moderation to fulfil the aspiration of our 1957 Merdeka Proclamation to make Malaysia “a beacon of light in disturbed and distracted world”

The call by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in Shah Alam yesterday for unity between followers of Islam’s two biggest schools, Sunni and Shia, is probably the first good news not only for Muslims but also for Malaysians in this year’s Ramadan as the past 12 days of the holy month in the Muslim calender have been dominated by negative voices of unreason – raucous, divisive and extremist – threatening the very fabric of Malaysia’s multi-racial and multi-religious nationhood.

Najib’s message to the Muslim world to learn to set aside whatever differences among the different denominations and coexist peacefully if it intends to guarantee its own future applies equally true and pertinent to the diverse races, religions and cultures in Malaysia if the Malaysian nation is to fulfil its Merdeka promise in 1957 to be “a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world” and not to become a basket case instead in the international arena.

Najib ‘s call for the unity of Sunni and Shia is particularly welcome as Middle and Moderate Malaysia, both Muslim and non-Muslim, had been most upset by a campaign of persecution and vilification of Shia Muslims, with calls at the UMNO General Assembly last December to spell out the definition of Islam as “Sunna waL Jamaah” in the Federal Constitution as well as recent developments in Syria and Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »

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