Lessons from the demonization of DAP

By Islamic Renaissance Front | August 10, 2012
The Malaysian Insider

AUG 10 ― “I’m for truth, no matter who tells it. I’m for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” ~ Malcolm X.

The Islamic Renaissance Front views the recent claims that voting for DAP is “haram”, with great concern and unease.

We believe that those claims are contrary to the spirit of Islam, which holds that a leader is not to be valued in terms his or her race or religion per se, but fundamentally by his or her character and commitment to upholding justice. A just non-Muslim is more worthy of being a leader than an unjust Muslim.

This notion is based on the one of most important principles in the religion of Islam that supporting a corrupt and despotic leader although he is of the same race and religion is tantamount to support injustice, when injustice is the main enemy of Islamic law.

The great Muslim reformer from Syria, Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi (1854–1902), held the opinion that since oppression and despotism are contrary to Islam, a just non-Muslim ruler is preferred to a tyrannical Muslim leader.

In particular, we find DAP’s vision of “Middle Malaysia”, wherein dignity, opportunity and prosperity is promised to all Malaysians regardless of ethnicity, gender and religion, wherein the welfare of the poor and oppressed are secured, as in no way in contradiction with Islam’s own aspirations for a just society in a modern globalized age.

On this matter, we echo the position of Tariq Ramadan who has insisted time and time again that the hudud penal code is not the be all end all measure of a Muslim’s faithfulness. Nor is the Islamic state the principle criteria to ensure the well-being of any society. Instead, the real challenge for Muslims today is pluralism: That is, how to live peacefully in a culturally complex and dynamic world that is ever-changing.

As Tariq Ramadan states it, Muslims must end their preoccupation with models and rules and focus on objectives and values of justice.

Lack of intellectual depth and originality

It is indeed a reflection of the sorry state of the contemporary Muslim mind that he must think of empowerment primarily in terms of punishment and state control. In the case of Malaysia, non-Muslims and non-Malays are often imagined to be at the receiving end of that fantasy.

What is more worrying is the attempt to promote the assumption that any wrongdoing by a Muslim is to be better than the righteousness of a non-Muslim. As Muslims, we have the duty to command good and forbid evil regardless of who does it.

What is tragically ironic about this campaign against DAP is that it is being spewed by members of a party whose own leader is busy talking about the importance of Wasatiyah or a moderate approach to religion. This also explains his ambivalence with regards to the hudud penal code or an Islamic state that has somehow been left unquestioned in these polemics.

The Prime Minister has gone on record to express his commitment to moderation, but while this has been done ostentatiously in front of the international press, it is deeply disappointing to see him utterly silent with regards to the extremism happening in his own country, propagated by sympathizers and members of his own party.

The sad example of iLMU

The so called religious scholars of iLMU, Umno’s official organisation of Islamic scholars, are one case in point. Fathul Bari Mat Jahaya has, unsurprisingly, stood in defence and further justification of Abdul Sa’amah’s initial position, claiming that DAP, because their position on Hudud, are unlike MCA.

The fact that MCA has on numerous occasions came out in opposition to the Hudud had somehow escaped Fahul Bari’s memory or attention. At best, he is ignorant of recent events in Malaysian current affairs. At worst, he is ignorant of BN’s electoral coalition strategy altogether, whereby because of Malaysia’s diverse demographics, Malays have no choice but to co-operate with non-Malays which has meant voting for Chinese candidates from an anti-hudud party like MCA.

The latter is perhaps more likely to be the case since several figures in iLMU have expressed their disdain for democracy altogether. In an op-ed in Utusan Malaysia earlier this year, Fathul Bari even tried, desperately and unsuccessfully one might add, to argue that the Prophet Muhammad himself was racist.

The hegemony of race and religion

The challenge of upholding democracy and justice in Malaysia begins with the fact that Malaysian society easily lends itself to the politicization of race and religion. We at the Islamic Renaissance Front believe that Malaysians will not see the true face of Islam flourish in their country if it will always be an ingredient to exploit racial sentiments.

Indeed, the undertones to the demonization of DAP that we are witnessing reflects just that: The use of religion to demonize a party whose majority of members are non-Malays. It is an old strategy in the fascist book of tricks: to dehumanize the other, to relegate and reduce their individuality into racial labels and to render their hopes, fears and vulnerabilities invisible; in other words, to oppress. What is worse, passages from the holy Quran are evoked in the process for justification.

The Islamic Renaissance Front once again calls for a civil political discourse, whereby issues of pressing importance are discussed in a calm, rational and dialogical manner, where compassion and empathy ― rather than the desire for power and competition ― reigns.

The conversation should proceed with an eye to ending oppression and finding a just solution for the happiness and prosperity of all.

  1. #1 by sotong on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 4:24 pm

    Many good values are universal.

    With power, one can play politics of race and religion irrespective of its consequences.

  2. #2 by Godfather on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 4:53 pm

    iLMU says that MCA and MIC are halal because they accept the pre-eminent position of UMNO. They accept that they must play second fiddle to the taikor of BN. Of course you don’t even hear a squeak coming out of MCA and MIC because it is the truth. The truth that UMNO dictates, and that the Satu Malaysia message is nothing more than a publicity stunt devoid of reality.

  3. #3 by yhsiew on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 5:13 pm

    Mixing religion with politics in Malaysia is like mixing coffee with milk!

  4. #4 by Winston on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 5:34 pm

    Once those in power in a government have tasted the fruits of power and unimaginable accumulation of personal wealth such power brings, they will not give up these goodies.
    So, by hook and by crook, it will hold onto them.
    And in the case of this country, those who are exploiting the situation are not even true blue Malays.
    They are masquerading as one.
    And they act even more Malay than any Malay.
    To fool all the Malays all the time.
    That is the situation in this country.
    It’s entirely up to the people to regain the country for all Malaysians.

  5. #5 by cemerlang on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 7:18 pm

    There is the English version of the Quran. So God is great in making sure everyone understands the Quran. Therefore the words UMNO, DAP and many words which are used so often are not found in the Quran. Even the word Malay, Chinese, Indian, Iban, Kadazan are not found in the Quran. It is good for everyone to read the Quran and to get a clarity of the religion.

  6. #6 by Jeffrey on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 7:31 pm

    DAP is demonised because its perceived best & most vulnerable target within PR coalition, the demonisation of which will help galvanise Malay votes. It must be inferred that such strategy of demonisation must necessarily proceed on an assumption (whether right or wrong) that large swathes/majority of Malay vote bank will still place race and religion ahead of governance issues like NFC etc. The other assumption is that BN cannot bank on non Malay votes being given to other BN component parties. So basic calculation is that UMNO with support of principally Malay votes alone – helped by rural constitutencies weightage and East Malaysian Fixed Deposit votes – has the best chance to win GE 13 – with objective of not just to win by a small margin but to win with 2/3 parliamentary majority. This is because if BN wins less than 2/3 the premier position as no.1 in UMNO may be challenged. So its an all out case, nothing less because anything less is not an option. The belief that this is right strategy is fortified by 2 perceptions: (i) that DAP has to defend itself against “haram” allegation when the proper parties to defend should be its coalition partners which so far has not conspicuously done so (ii) PAS’s recent revival of Hudud depicts its realisation that Malay votes are pivotal. The calculation again is that if DAP contradicts PAS on Hudud, PR will lose Malay/Muslim votes; but if DAP does not, PR will lose Non Malay votes, either way BN benefits. Whether or not these assumptions underpining the strategy outlined are correct will only be known when the final votes are counted in the coming GE.

  7. #7 by Bigjoe on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 7:59 pm

    Honestly, its time to move beyond complaining about demonisation of DAP. The time has come to take the fight to UMNO/BN.

    Mahathir has basically admitted his view that Malaysia is Malayland or UMNOland. All along his/the plan for UMNO to colonise and marginalise the people of Sabah and sooner or later Sarawak. All along he believes that non-Malay do not have equal rights in this country and all his abuses is nothing in his grand scheme of things.

    Its time to go the far lengths of Sabah (and Sarawak) that unless they get rid of UMNO/BN, what will happen to them is no less than their own obliteration..

  8. #8 by undertaker888 on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 9:23 pm

    Umno is syaitan and syaitan is umno. Utusan is iblis and iblis is utusan. That’s all to it.

  9. #9 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Friday, 10 August 2012 - 11:49 pm

    It is that brand of islam. That islam jenis umno that is annoying everyone.

You must be logged in to post a comment.