Islamisation will tear Malaysia apart, says Marina Mahathir

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Source: The Malaysian Insight

Illusions of Democracy contains a series of essays on democracy in Malaysia. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Seth Akmal, January 18, 2018.

MALAYSIA is on a slippery slope if the nation carries on with its Islamisation agenda, which will not only divide society, but also promote violence, said Marina Mahathir.

Citing a recent example of a man slapping a Muslim woman for not wearing a headscarf in public, the socio-political activist said Islamisation is not going to be positive or healthy for the nation.

“What could possibly have given the man the idea that he is entitled to harangue and slap a Muslim woman for not wearing a tudung as happened recently in Penang,” she said at a book launch at the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall last night.

The footage of a man slapping a woman for allegedly not wearing a headscarf some two weeks ago went viral on social media.

The man had singled out one of the women seated at a bus stop believed to be in Penang and questioned her about her religion and the way she was dressed.

He then slapped the woman in the face.

Touching on the book she launched last night, Illusions of Democracy, Marina said the publication provided “empirical back-up” to her stand on the Islamisation of Malaysia because “it is another form of colonisation, a concept that has never been known to being non-violent”.

“Whether it is the growing numbers of modest fashion of family cosmetics to the denunciation of any friendly overture to people of other faiths, to the demonisation of anyone that does not fit into one’s official interpretation of Islam, all of these have proven not only to be divisive in our society but has led to inevitable violence,” she said.

She also commented on a statement by “a former educator” who said minorities should not be given scholarships, and also questioned “a political party leader” for suggesting a Muslim-only cabinet.

At the Rise of the ummah convention recently, Raof Husin, a former education officer said Putrajaya was constitutionally bound to limit study aids to Bumiputeras.

PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang said last year only Muslims will occupy decision-making roles in the Islamist party’s cabinet.

“If you didn’t know better, wouldn’t you think that Isis (Islamic State) had said these things?  

“And yet in our enthusiasm to fight terrorism in this country, some people become confused,” Marina said.

While it is said that Malaysians are moderate people who want peace and freedom of religion, sometimes the “toxic tones of the most violent Islamic groups in the world” are also practised, she said.

“On the one hand, some groups are labelled liberal and pluralist, yet at the same time, they are mentioned in the same breath as Isis despite the fact that liberal and pluralist are not words that would describe that particular group.

“Instead, some of the more official pronouncements that we hear or read about are more reminiscence of Isis than any liberal could ever be.

“There are people who want doctors to cut off people’s hands for stealing for instance… some people think that women who speak their minds and protest their own discrimination in the name of religion are unsuited to call themselves Muslims.

“There are those who call for the prosecution of academics who warn against the increasing radicalisation of our institutions.

“Are we merely confused or just hypocrites?”

She said although it is easy to spot the black mark in an “undemocractic” state where “lies are touted as truth”, she is still positive that Malaysians will persevere.

“I have seen ordinary Malaysians resisting falling for the provocations, how they have refused to react in the way they are expected to.

“Malaysians have refused to believe that the burning of churches or the throwing of pig heads were the acts of real people like them rather than hired goons.  

“They have taken insults, contained their anger and prayed instead. Malaysians have reached out across faith and race to help one another in times of trouble.”

She added that although the authorities are finding ways to differentiate and separate society, Malaysians still have hope and are capable of respecting one another.

“This is a country where those in power change the name of hot dogs while ordinary people got together to learn how to love canines.

“We are carrying on as normal even though the authorities are finding ever more things to differentiate us and keep us apart.”

But Marina remains optimistic that despite all these setbacks, Malaysians are humane and capable of respecting one another, and who can respond in love.

The daughter of Pakatan Harapan chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Marina was speaking at the launch of Illusions of Democracy, a compilation of articles by Sophie Lemiere, an academic from the Weatherhead Centre at Harvard University, with contributors speaking about democracy in Malaysia.

Lemiere, who moderated the forum, said more research needs to be done about democracy in Malaysia.

Also present were Lawrence Ross, a researcher at Malaysia’s Academy of Malay Studies, and civil society group Empower’s executive director, Angela M. Kuga Thas, both contributors to the book. – January 18, 2018.