RISING intolerance and extremism in Malaysia’s Islamic bureaucracy are threatening the peace and harmony of the country, said G25’s Noor Farida Mohd Ariffin.
Citing the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) as an example, Noor Farida said the religious department has shown intolerance of moderate Islamic NGOs such as G25, the Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF), Ikram, and Sisters in Islam, while political party Amanah has been accused of being “liberal” and a “threat” to Islam and the country’s sovereignty in a booklet produced by Jakim’s research arm.
She said the booklet titled “Martabatkan Islam di Malaysia”, published by the Malaysia Islamic Strategic Research Institute (Iksim), also accused DAP leader Hannah Yeoh of being an evangelist out to make Malaysia a Christian state.
“According to them, we are threats to the country, as (are) liberalism, pluralism, and moderation,” she said in a keynote speech on Malaysia as a secular state at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall’s sixth civil society awards ceremony tonight.
Noor Farida said the NGOs that have been defamed should consider taking legal action against the federal religious authority.
She also took Jakim to task for using public funds to sow discord among Muslims and Malaysians of other faiths.
“These little Napoleons are taking it upon themselves to impose their (narrow) interpretation of Islam (on others),” said the former Malaysian ambassador to Holland.
She also spoke out against the banning of books published by G25, the IRF, and Turkish author Mustafa Akyol.
“There has always been diversity of views within Islam, unfortunately in Malaysia, only those in the bureaucracy are accepted.”
Noor Farida’s speech received hearty applause and cheers from the multiethnic audience of about 200, who were mainly civil society leaders.
Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Kelantan, which is fighting to stop unsustainable logging in Kelantan, independent publisher Gerakbudaya founder Chong Ton Sin, and the Delineation Action Research Team each received RM5,000 in recognition of their work.
Incepted in 2008, the biannual Civil Rights Award aims to recognise the contributions of the individual or organisation towards a progressive and democratic Malaysia.
Human rights lawyer Siti Kasim, student activist Anis Syafiqah Md Yusof, and human rights group Lawyers for Liberty were among the award nominees.