UN wants govt to drop sedition charges against Zunar

Source: FMT News

The United Nations (UN) wants Putrajaya to drop all sedition charges against Zunar and to lift the travel ban imposed on the political cartoonist last year. Image taken from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: The United Nations (UN) wants the Malaysian government to drop all sedition charges against political cartoonist Zulkiflee Anwar Ulhaque and lift the travel ban which was imposed on him last June.

UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Karima Bennoune, who was in Malaysia at Putrajaya’s invitation from Sept 11 to 21, expressed “deep concern” about the charges against Zulkiflee, better known as Zunar.

A report on her preliminary observations following her visit said Bennoune and other UN human rights experts would be following developments closely when Zunar’s trial resumes next week. Read more

Unesco wants Kelantan to lift ban on Mak Yong

Source: FMT News

UN Special Rapporteur Karima Bennoune says ‘Mak Yong’ dance should be celebrated and appreciated as it is among the oldest performing arts in the world. Image taken from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Kelantan government has been urged to lift its ban on public performances of the “Mak Yong” dance and other traditional artistic Malay art forms.

The United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune, said these cultures with rich tradition should instead be celebrated and appreciated as they were among the oldest performing arts in the world.

She said measures should also be taken to provide better understanding and explanation of the meaning of these practices and their long history in Malaysia, to overcome prejudicial views about them.

“Kelantan has a rich artistic tradition and the restrictions of other traditional art forms like wayang kulit, main puteri and dikir barat must also be lifted.

“Everybody should be able to enjoy it and people must learn to value and appreciate native cultures that have been around for centuries. Read more

Religious fundamentalism in Malaysia: reality vs rhetoric

Source: Asian Correspondent

Hijabs for sale at a market in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Source: Shutterstock. Image taken from Asian Correspondent.

WHEN it comes to tackling religious fundamentalism, the Malaysian government struggles to reconcile the commitments it makes on the international stage with the realities of life for the Malaysian people, according to UN Special Rapporteur Karima Bennoune.

Under Prime Minister Najib Razak, the Malaysian government has long touted the merits of a cohesive and inclusive multi-religious society in the Muslim-majority nation, and continues to declare its commitment to a “moderate and progressive” form of Islam.

In comments made in response to Bennoune’s thematic report on fundamentalism, extremism and the cultural rights, Najib placed the success of the nation at the feet of its ethnic and religious diversity.

“In Malaysia’s experience ensuring a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-ethnic population have freedoms to practice their cultures, traditions and religious belief has been essential and integral to our nation building and progress,” he said in March 2017. Read more

UN envoy says govt’s contradiction over religious extremism worrying

Source: FMT News

UN special rapporteur Karima Bennoune questions discrepancy between rhetoric and reality on Islamic fundamentalism and extremism in Malaysia. Image taken from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: The UN special rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Karima Bennoune has revealed that while the Malaysian government has voiced its rejection of Islamic fundamentalism and extremism, there was concern over perceived contradictions.

In a report on her preliminary observations during a visit to Malaysia from Sept 11 to 21, Karima Bennoune reported on some of these contradictions as told to her by the different sectors of Malaysian society whom she met.

“They expressed concern that the contradiction to these stated commitments was part of the growing Islamisation of Malaysian society and polity based on an increasingly rigid and fundamentalist interpretation of Islam,” Bennoune said.

“It is critical to ask what accounts for this striking discrepancy between rhetoric and lived reality recounted by many and what its consequences are for the enjoyment of cultural rights.” Read more