Religion makes racism more intense, says Saifuddin

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Source: FMT News

PETALING JAYA: Any form of racism in the country becomes more intense when it is coupled with religious sentiment, former Umno leader and CEO for the Global Movement of Moderates  Saifuddin Abdullah said in an opinion piece in Sinar Harian today.

The Pakatan Harapan secretariat chief added that this race-religion narrative was being created by some leaders in Umno in collaboration with certain religious leaders, including a mufti or two.

“Making use of a siege mentality framework, they call on Malays and Muslims to defend Islam,” Saifuddin wrote in the Bahasa Malaysia daily.

He said that the result of such actions is the “outbreak” of controversial issues, including the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims, the confiscation of bibles, the protest against religious symbols, the declaration of DAP as “kafir harbi”, and the latest issue over the “hot dog”.

Speaking on the call for moderation by many as a way to address extremism and racism, Saifuddin said it was important to ensure that the term is properly understood and not misinterpreted or hijacked in the fight against violent extremism.

“The moderates are also wiped out, and are labelled as less Islamic or Malay, and the extremists are given impunity and end up being called moderates,” he said.

Saifuddin said the Quran had provided sufficient guidelines on how to practise moderation in all aspects of life including on how to be merciful to people, provide cooperation in a pluralistic society and religious freedom.

He also proposed that the “centripetalism” political model – multi-racial, multi-cultural, centrist, inclusive, moderate and progressive – be used to replace the existing “consociationalism”, which refers to the regulation and sharing of power in a state that comprises diverse societies.

Saifuddin alleged the widespread race politics in the country was a result of consociationalism that was specifically being practised by Barisan Nasional (BN), with the major races having their respective component parties.

“This cooperation based on an elite race has lost its relevance and needs to be changed,” Saifuddin said.

According to Saifuddin, Umno’s answer, on the other hand, was to replace consociationalism with a more Bumiputera dominant configuration, which only meant an even more extreme form of racial politics.

“If, however, the Umno and PAS cooperation becomes a reality, it would instead mean a Bumiputera-Muslim dominant configuration which is yet an even more extreme form of racial politics.”