Sunday, May 14, 2006

Disturbing!

(kemas kini 17 Mei, 9: 25pm)

Kenapa kelompok Islam sekat diskusi? (17 Mei, rencana saya)

Cops to wrap up probe on illegal demo next week (17 May)
Suaram: Penang protest a setback (17 May)
Uncivil society (17 May)**
'Police will take action against protesters' (17 May)**

IFC: Jangan dijolok sarang tebuan (17 Mei, Harakahdaily.net)
PAS beri amaran, NGO jangan sokong IFC (17 Mei, Harakahdaily.net)

Pak Lah: Forum okay ... but be careful (17 May)
Disrupted forum never planned to discuss IFC (17 May)
PM: Forum OK ... tetapi hati-hati (17 Mei)

Penganjur forum dinasihat hati-hati (16 Mei)
Polis akan panggil penganjur demonstrasi bantu siasatan (16 Mei)
Police to haul up leaders of protest (16 May)
Businessman wants forum reconvened (16 May)
'Forum cut short for security reasons' (16 May)**

Adalah bodoh untuk Nazri berkata pembantah IFC bodoh (16 Mei)
Penang groups: It's not stupid to protest (16 May)
Protest against minority rights forum condemned (16 May)**

Minister condemns Muslim protest as 'stupid' (15 May)
Forum on secular law disrupted (15 May)
Protest condemned (15 May)
Police ignored mob, say forum organisers (15 May)
ACCIN alu-alukan forum IFC dihentikan (15 Mei)
Bantah forum isu perlembagaan 'tindakan bodoh': Nazri (15 Mei)

Group forces forum to abrupt end (14 May)
Forum isu perlembagaan batal, 500 demo bantah (14 Mei)
Aliran press statement (14 May)
Bar Council news (14 May)

** minggu depan, pautan (link) ini tidak akan berfungsi kerana bahan berita ini akan dimasukkan ke arkib New Straits Times. Untuk rujukan, sila salin dan tampal (copy & paste) mengikut pilihan anda.

(ii)

Gangguan terhadap diskusi 'The Federal Constitution: Protection for All' (Perlembagaan Persekutuan: Perlindungan untuk Semua) semalam di sebuah hotel di Pulau Pinang oleh kira-kira 500 orang pembantah satu gejala yang tidak sihat, sekali gus menakutkan.

Utusan Malaysia, memetik Bernama, melaporkan protes liar itu anjuran Badai, sejenis kumpulan Islam. Laporan The Sun di sini.

Laporan awal Harakahdaily menyebutkan Badai diketuai oleh Hafiz Nordin dari Dewan Pemuda PAS Pulau Pinang. Hafiz dilaporkan pernah berkata Badai "akan bertindak mengikut saluran undang-undang dan tidak sekali-kali melulu kerana ia merupaka isu serius."

Teringat saya pada Front Pembela Islam (FPI) sewaktu ia dikhabarkan mahu menyerang Komunitas Utan Kayu September tahun lepas. Isu asalnya, tidak berpuas hati pada Jaringan Islam Liberal (JIL). FPI memang sudah sering bertindak ganas dan liar mengikut budi bicaranya sendiri.

Jadi bagaimana, PAS mahu jawab isu ini?

(iii)

Aliran, yang turut terbabit dalam penganjuran acara ini, mengeluarkan kenyataannya di sini. Majlis Peguam, juga satu anggota daripada 11 badan, melaporkan begini. Program penjelasan ini berhubung dengan kempen tandatangan, yang boleh dicapai dalam talian (online) di sini Reaffirming the supremacy of the Federal Constitution.

FOTO >> Yang kecil di atas dicuri dari laman web Aliran. Untuk beberapa keping foto yang menarik dan jelas, sila ke blog Mental Jog

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Demonstrasi paksa forum agama dibatal (Utusan Malaysia, 15 Mei)

PULAU PINANG 14 Mei - Satu forum umum bertajuk `Perlembagaan Persekutuan: Perlindungan Untuk Semua' yang menyentuh tentang pertembungan undang-undang sivil dan syariah, terpaksa dibatalkan separuh jalan selepas lebih 500 orang mengadakan demonstrasi secara aman membantah penganjurannya.

Demonstrasi kira-kira dua jam di hadapan Hotel Cititel, Jalan Penang di sini dianjurkan oleh Badan Anti IFC (Suruhanjaya Antara Agama) atau BADAI yang dianggotai oleh beberapa pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGOs), bermula kira-kira pukul 8.30 pagi.

Kumpulan itu memegang sepanduk-sepanduk seperti `IFC Bunuh Aqidah,' `IFC Rampas Kuasa Mahkamah Syariah' dan `Jangan Rampas Hak Kami' bagi membantah penganjuran forum yang didakwa mereka membincangkan tentang Perkara 121 (A) Perlembagaan Persekutuan, yang merujuk kepada peruntukan perlembagaan yang menghalang mahkamah sivil mencampuri bidang kuasa mahkamah syariah.

Ketua Polis Daerah Timur Laut, ACP Hamzah Md. Jamil berkata, pihak penganjur demonstrasi itu mematuhi arahan polis untuk bersurai kerana mereka tidak mempunyai permit untuk menganjurkan perhimpunan terbabit.

Bercakap kepada pemberita di sini hari ini beliau berkata, anggota polis ditempatkan di sekitar kawasan itu sejak pukul 8 pagi ini bagi memastikan tiada sebarang kejadian tidak diingini berlaku.

ACP Hamzah berkata, selepas perbincangan, penganjur forum iaitu Aliran dan Article 11, yang dianggotai 14 NGOs termasuk Sisters in Islam (SIS), Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Majlis Peguam dan All Women's Action Society (AWAM) bersetuju untuk membatalkan forum berkenaan bagi mengelakkan kejadian tidak diingini.

Turut berada di tempat berkenaan ialah Ketua Polis Negeri, Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee.

Sementara itu, jurucakap forum itu yang juga anggota jawatankuasa penaja Pertubuhan Kebebasan Rakyat Malaysia, Haris Ibrahim berkata, forum yang sepatutnya bermula pukul 9 pagi dan berakhir 1 petang itu terpaksa dibatalkan kira-kira pukul 10.15 pagi ini selepas mendapat nasihat polis.

Bagaimanapun menurutnya lebih 200 peserta mendaftar untuk mengikuti forum itu yang akan membincangkan mengenai Perkara 121 (A), dan bukannya membincangkan mengenai penubuhan IFC. - Bernama

Anonymous said...

Group forces forum to abrupt end (The Sun, 15 Mei)

Tajudin Mohd and Maria J. Dass

PENANG: A forum on The Federal Constitution: Protection for All organised by Article 11 (a coalition of 13 groups), which has the required permits, was forced to an abrupt end midway by a protest by about 500 people on Sunday.

The forum, attended by about 200 people, started as scheduled but was interrupted by a group in the hall.

The hecklers stood up to accuse the organisers of holding the forum without a permit.

Plainclothes policemen seated in the crowd told them to calm down.

To contain the situation, police advised the organisers to end the forum by 10.15am, two hours before the scheduled time stated in the police permit.

Only three of the five speakers had spoken.

Earlier, the forum participants found police personnel stationed around the venue Ð a hotel on Penang Road Ð when they arrived.

One participant, Raphael Surin, while thankful that the police were there to control the situation, was surprised the forum was forced to end early.

"This all the more highlights the need for inter-faith dialogue and this cannot be done under threat of violence," he said.

National Human Rights Society (Hakam) deputy president and lawyer Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, who was also a speaker at the forum, said: "It is very sad, but this incident points to how serious the breakdown in constitutional values is.

"We have lost the ability to dialogue. If we cannot speak on the constitution, where are we as a nation?"

The forum had been organised to discuss the need to re-examine the Federal Constitution in the context of Islamisation, and the recent concerns of society in the wake of the Nyonya Tahir, M. Moorthy and G. Shamala cases.

This is the third of a series of road shows on the topic and the first to have encountered such a situation.

Malik, who is also the pro tem secretary of the Malaysian Civil Liberties Society, said the first and second sessions held in Petaling Jaya and Malacca were successful.

"There were many people in the earlier sessions who did not fully agree with our views but attended the forum and presented their disagreements in a civil manner, instead of holding an illegal demonstration," he said.

Among the other speakers were Ivy Josiah, constitutional expert Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi, Kota Baru MP Datuk Zaid Ibrahim, and former Bar Council president Datuk Dr Cyrus Das.

Aliran president P. Ramakrishnan expressed disappointment with the police for failing to allow the forum to continue despite their presence.

"It is quite shocking why, despite the presence of some 200 police personnel to control the protesting crowd, they cannot allow us to continue with the forum, which took a lot of effort to be organised here," he said.

Ramakrishnan said the protesters would have been welcomed into the forum if they wanted to express their views and they did not have to hold a demonstration to show their dissatisfaction.

"Some 50 of them were allowed to join the forum but they kept interrupting the speakers," he said.

"Many of them held anti Inter-Faith Commission banners and placards, but they must have been misled as the forum did not even touch on the subject."

Haris Ibrahim of the Malaysian Civil Liberties Society, one of the 13 NGOs in the Article 11 coalition, said: "What transpired today will not deter us from further promoting our cause and we will continue with the original plan to go to Johor Baru next month, to be followed by Kuching and Perak."

State police chief Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee said all action taken by police was for the best interest of the public and the people's security.

"We have to maintain public order, that is our priority," he said.

North-East district OCPD ACP Hamzah Md Jamil, who was outside the hotel, said the protesters were dispersed from 10.30am and there was no violence.

Anonymous said...

Umat Islam diperingatkan ancaman IFC

Tue | May 02, 06 | 03:27:18 PM
Oleh Mohd Sabri Said

GEORGETOWN, 2 Mei (Hrkh) - Umat Islam disaran menulis surat terbuka kepada Mufti, Pejabat Agama, wakil rakyat dan kerajaan sebagai peringatan bahaya ancaman Suruhanjaya Antara Agama (IFC) yang sedang menjalankan aktiviti secara senyap di seluruh negara terutamanya di Institusi Pengajian Tinggi Awam (IPTA) dan swasta.

Demikian kata, Pengarah Jabatan Dakwah Dewan Pemuda PAS Negeri Pulau Pinang merangkap Pengerusi Badan Bertindak Anti IFC (BADAI), Ustaz Hafiz Nordin ketika menyampaikan khutbah Jumaat di Masjid Sheikh Yusuf, Jalan Perak baru-baru ini.

Selepas menunaikan fardhu Jumaat kira-kira 400 orang berkumpul di pintu masuk masjid mengadakan demonstrasi aman membantah cadangan penubuhan IFC yang mengancam sentiviti umat Islam.

Turut serta mengetuai demonstrasi kali ke tiga itu ialah Naib Ketua Dewan Pemuda PAS Pusat, Mazlan Aliman yang kebetulan berada di negeri ini untuk menyampaikan ceramah di Dataran Wakaf Simpang Empat Permatang Buluh sehari sebelum itu.

Semasa berucap dalam demontrasi aman itu, Mazlan Aliman menjelaskan, kedudukan Islam akan goyang jika sekiranya kerajaan tidak membatalkan terus usaha berkenaan.

"Pak Lah cuma tangguh bukan batal itulah hakikatnya, " ujar beliau.

Antara ayat-ayat yang terpampang sempena demontrasi itu ialah IFC angkara zionis, batal IFC bukan tangguh, IFC bunuh aqidah perangi Islam liberal, don't humiliate Islam, jangan rampas hak kami, don't seize our right, undang-undang Allah mengatasi hak asasi manusia dan banyak lagi.

Selain itu, menurut beliau lagi, kerajaan seolah memberi lesen kepada salah sebuah Pertubuhan Bukan Kerajaan (NGO) iaitu Sisters In Islam ke udara melalui media cetak atau elektronik.

Tindakan itu jelasnya, memberi peluang untuk mereka menabur kekeliruan terhadap Islam sebenar terutamanya hak wanita, hak kemanusian dan seumpamanya.

"Mereka akan menggunakan peluang yang kerajaan berikan kononnya untuk membetulkan pandangan Islam terhadap hak wanita, hak asasi manusia, hukum syariah serta mempertikaikan keputusan mahkamah syariah. Jesteru itu perangilah mereka sebelum terlambat walaupun mereka terdiri daripada kaum keluarga Perdana Menteri dan bekasnya, " terang beliau.

Turut memberi ucapan dalam perhimpunan tersebut ialah Ketua Dewan Pemuda PAS Negeri, Azizi Ayob dan Timbalan Pesuruhjaya PAS Negeri, Ustaz Taqiudin Hamzah.

Anonymous said...

Pemuda PAS Pulau Pinang tubuh badan anti IFC

Mon | Apr 03, 06 | 05:08:39 PM
Oleh Mohd Sabri Said

PULAU PINANG, 3 April (Hrkh) - Dewan Pemuda PAS Negeri Pulau Pinang menubuhkan satu jawatankuasa khas menentang kemaraan Suruhanjaya Antara Agama (IFC) yang dinamakan Badan Anti IFC (Badai) , kata Setiausaha Dewan Pemuda PAS Negeri, Helmi Harun.

Jawatankuasa tersebut dipengerusikan oleh Pengerusi Jabatan Dakwah Dewan Pemuda PAS Negeri, Ustaz Hafiz Nordin.

"Pulau Pinang negeri pertama mengorak langkah untuk membenteras gejala yang semakin menular sekarang ini. Jika dibiarkan pasti Islam akan terancam terutamanya dalam kontek perundangan, " jelasnya ketika dihubungi tengahari tadi.

Baginya, BADAI akan bertindak mengikut saluran undang-undang dan tidak sekali-kali melulu kerana ia merupaka isu serius.

Dewan Pemuda kata beliau, tidak mahu isu kematian M. Murthy atau nama Islamnya Mohamad Abdullah dan Perkara 121 (a) yang digunakan oleh Mahkamah Syariah dikorbankan sebagaimana yang dikehendaki oleh IFC.

"Kita bukan bertindak mambabi buta jika timbul isu itu sebaliknya berdasarkan perundangan negara. Isu M.Murthy dan 121 (a) sudah menjadi teladan bahawa pentingnya hebahan sekiranya sudah memeluk Islam, " terang beliau.

Sementara itu, Ketua Dewan Pemuda PAS Negeri Pulau Pinang, Azizi Ayob ketika berucap sempena pelancaran BADAI berkata, semua ahli PAS mesti prihatin terhadap pergerakan IFC kerana ia memusnahkan kedaulatan Islam.

Harapan Dewan Pemuda ialah mahukan jawatankuasa ini melaksanakan objektif penubuhan selari dengan ancaman IFC masa kini.

"Memandangkan IFC telah merancang aktiviti dalam masyarakat maka peranan Dewan Pemuda kena memantau serta menggagalkan aktiviti mereka supaya masyarakat Islam tidak terkeliru antara Islam ciptaan dan keunggulan Islam, " tegasnya.

Walaubagaimana pun, Pengerusi Jabatan Dakwah Dewan Pemuda PAS Negeri, Hafiz Nordin telah memaklumkan bahawa beliau telah membuat ketetapan tidak akan memberi sebarang keterangan kepada Harakah.

Anonymous said...

500 bantah forum (Berita Harian, 15 Mei)

GEORGETOWN: Kira-kira 500 orang yang mendakwa mewakili Badan Anti Suruhanjaya Antara Kepercayaan Agama (BADAi) mengadakan demonstrasi secara aman di depan Hotel Cititel di Jalan Penang di sini, bagi membantah penganjuran satu forum yang didakwa menghina Islam, semalam.

Demonstrasi yang bermula kira-kira jam 8.30 pagi, bersurai dua jam kemudian atas nasihat polis tanpa mencetuskan sebarang kejadian tidak diingini.

Forum Perlindungan Kepada Semua anjuran bersama Aliran dan 13 pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO) yang menggelar diri mereka Artikel 11 membincangkan isu berkaitan Suruhanjaya Antara Kepercayaan Agama (IFC) termasuk sistem kehakiman dan penolakan sebarang usaha menjadikan Malaysia negara teokratik.

Ketua Polis Daerah Timur Laut, Asisten Komisioner Hamzah Md Jamil, berkata kumpulan yang mengadakan demonstrasi tanpa permit itu diarahkan polis untuk bersurai pada jam 10.30 pagi.

“Tiada tangkapan dibuat selepas penunjuk perasaan memberi kerjasama kepada polis,” katanya di tempat kejadian.

Ketua Polis negeri, Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee yang turut berada di hotel berkenaan, berkata polis terpaksa membatalkan forum itu atas alasan keselamatan orang awam.

"Kita terpaksa utamakan ketenteraman awam dan pada waktu ini ia jalan terbaik yang diambil polis," katanya kepada pemberita semalam. selepas menemui penganjur forum itu.

Sementara itu, Aliran dan Artikel 11 kecewa dengan tindakan polis membatalkan forum berkenaan kerana ia diadakan di tempat persendirian.

Presiden Aliran, P Ramakrishnan berkata, beliau kecewa walaupun ada kira-kira 200 polis mengawal demonstrasi itu, forum berkenaan masih terpaksa ditamatkan.

"Ini forum anjuran kami yang ketiga dan forum sama di Petaling Jaya dan di Melaka tidak berhadapan masalah seperti ini," katanya.

Sementara itu, Artikel 11 mendakwa Malaysia bukan negara Islam, sebaliknya negara yang mengamalkan undang-undang sekular.

Kumpulan NGO itu turut menentang sebarang usaha menjadikan Malaysia sebagai negara teokrasi atau mengambil mana-mana undang-undang sesuatu agama sebagai tunjang perundangan negara.

mat arau said...

Mengapa protes yang dianjurkan oleh Badai dikatakan sebagai liar?

Atau memang, tiada siapa berhak untuk protes?

Laporan akhbar mengatakan perhimpunan diskusi tidak mempunyai permit. Mengapa boleh jadi begini?

fathi aris omar said...

Baca semua link, akan faham.

Protes boleh, termasuk berdemo. Kacau majlis, sedangkan ada ruang mendengar, bersoal dan menjawab, itu bukan protes. Itu namanya mengganggu. Atau, lebih sopan, liar!

Tetapi belum ganas, Mat Arau. OK-lah sebab belum ada yang pecah2 kepala ... Masih OK-lah

Jiwa Rasa said...

kalau sudah berani buat kenyataan yang kontroversial dan menyinggung dan menghiris perasaan orang lain, beranilah menerima protes dan tentangan dan protes dari mereka yang kita singgung...

Takkanlah baru kena jerit sikit dah kecut telur... Kata berani sangat..

anick said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
anick said...

Keep fight to freedom!

blokbatu said...

Semua berhak untuk protes, untuk berkumpul dan menunjukkan rasa. Ia adalah kebebasan bersuara. Tetapi berkumpul, bersuara dan tunjuk perasaan, hanya untuk mencantas hak bersuara yang lain, membungkam yang lain itu salah dan bolehlah dikatakan liar. Ruang untuk berdialog wujud bukan? Mengapa menumbangkan semangat Perlembagaan? Kita harus mengakui hakikat apabila kita menyuburkan semangat kebebasan bersuara, maka banyak pihak yang akan menikmati kebebasan tersebut.

Anonymous said...

Syed Nazri's (of the NST) Tuesday column (NST, 16 May 2006)

Deal with debates in a civil manner

ONE of the most unfortunate things about Malaysia today is that it never seems to be ready for freedom of expression.

There have been far too many many instances these past few weeks alone to remind us that there are forces out there with no qualms about shutting up anyone they disagree with.

It has been proven that the easiest muzzle would be to use broad excuses like national interests or reasons of race or religion.

The latest episode was on Sunday, when a public forum on “The Federal Constitution: A Protection for All”, organised in Penang by the Malaysian Civil Liberties Society, had to be cut short following a demonstration staged by people opposed to it.

The forum was to discuss cases concerning the overlapping of jurisdiction between the civil and Syariah courts, as seen in several controversial cases recently. It was the third in the series after similar ones held in Kuala Lumpur on March 12 and Malacca on April 21.

Police, fearing that the gathering and demonstration might lead to a breach of the peace, urged the organisers to break off early.

Which is a pity, really, because open discourse on matters of public interest (without political or racial overtones) don’t come too often, given the stifling environment Malaysians are accustomed to.

The society that organised the forum may be founded on mistaken principles or they may have the wrong idea about the Malaysian Constitution and concepts. But as long as they don’t break the law, they should be allowed to debate. And everyone else should equally be allowed to rebut them — in a civil manner.

Suppressing free and peaceful opinion through threats and coercion should never be tolerated or Malaysians will continue to be inward-looking.

For this, we should salute Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, who condemned the protesters.

“They were wrong to do so. It was a stupid act. In this new millennium, we sit and talk and discuss things,” he said yesterday.

The Interviewer said...

Zainah Anwar on Friday: Changing the Muslim mindset
By Zainah Anwar

(NST) 19 May, 2006

IN a seminal speech on Islam Hadhari and women’s rights at the Women’s Institute of Management last year, the Prime Minister said the biggest stumbling block to women’s progress and development in the area of rights and equality relates to mindsets and attitudes towards women. To an audience of high- achieving women, he admitted that there were "elements within our society who are uncomfortable with the advancement of women. They try to obstruct the progress of women through barriers and strictures legitimised in the name of religion or culture."

In making a plea for ijtihad (reinterpretation), he stated that "the problems confronting contemporary Muslim societies today are not the problems of the sixth century, and the solutions do not lie with the notion of a Syariah purportedly final and complete 1,400 years ago, particularly in the case of women".

"The notion that the Islamic concept of law is absolute and hence immutable has resulted in intellectual inertia among some scholars, noticeably on the subject of women and, sadly, in a continued injustice towards them.

"When the history of the 21st century is recorded," he said, "let Malaysia be mentioned in the context of not only progress and achievement for the country but also the advancement, empowerment and emancipation of women."

We in the women’s movement could not have asked for a stronger, clearer policy statement from the Prime Minister. The challenge remains in how we translate these words into deeds. This is a tall order for Malaysia.

The statement last week by the Mufti of Johor, Datuk Noh Gadut, that it is forbidden for Muslim men to be house-husbands is a reflection of the mindset the Prime Minister was talking about.

Changing realities stare us in the face and our religious leaders and Islamist ideologues are stuck in an understanding of gender roles and Islamic knowledge constructed within the social context of the mediaeval age. They do a disservice to Muslims and the country.

Many Muslim scholars, whether from this region or from the Middle East or South Asia, are puzzled how Malaysia could be so modern and progressive in many ways when the many Muslims they meet at academic meetings and international conferences are so conservative theologically and ideologically.

For those who admire Malaysia’s success story, the absence of academic rigour and the dogmatism displayed are painful and embarrassing. They are beginning to question the international assumption that Malaysia is indeed the model progressive Muslim country it is touted to be. At the economic development level, yes, they say, but at the Islamic scholarship and ideological level, it is a perilous no.

A member of a team of Islamic officials sent by the Government to visit several Arab countries to look at their laws on apostasy said he was surprised to find the ulama there far more enlightened than ours, and that not a single country he visited prescribed the death penalty for apostasy.

He said every single Arab scholar he met was unequivocal about the Quranic injunction that there can be no compulsion in religion. A personal change of faith does not merit any form of state punishment.

Dr Hiba Rauf, the well- known Islamist woman leader from Egypt, asked me at a meeting in Cairo two years ago why Malaysian students at al-Azhar University were so closed-minded.

She was surprised as she had thought Malaysia was modern and progressive.

This same observation was made by an Indonesian activist who studied at al-Azhar. He said every single Malaysian student he met there, "down to the last 8,000th", was "ultra-conservative".

He took it as a personal challenge to engage with them, spending hours in long debates on women’s rights, democracy, human rights, differences of opinion, all using arguments drawn from Islam’s rich theological and juristic heritage.

Some of them, he said, did change their opinions, or were at least willing to debate and think more critically on these issues.

He observed that the closed- mindedness of the Malaysian students was not so much ideological but largely because they were exposed only to conservative traditionalist thinking in Islam.

He said they had never read the more enlightened works of Islamic scholars, from the classical period, let alone contemporary times, that he had been exposed to as a student of Islam in a Nahdlatul Ulama pesantren and later at the State Islamic University in Jakarta.

The students’ mindset, he said, made them easy targets for recruitment into Pas and Islamist movements pushing for the supremacy of Syariah rule.

While the Islamic institutes in Indonesia are already producing the second generation of enlightened progressive scholars, policymakers and activists who are challenging and resisting demands for a hardline understanding of Islam and calls for an Islamic state and Syariah rule by newly established militant and conservative Islamist groups, Malaysia is hard-pressed to find such progressive individuals educated within our Islamic education system.

The failure of the Government’s Islamisation project to produce enlightened thinkers and activists, or Islamic laws and policies is largely due to the absence of the intellectual capital needed to spearhead the agenda.

In pushing his Islam Hadhari project, a modern and progressive Islam, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi must search for the enlightened software — the first- class mindset — that is so necessary to drive the change.

In the wrong hands, his Islam Hadhari agenda — just as with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Islamisation policy — could be hijacked by the Maududi and Syed Qutb ideologues and the traditionalist ulama who still dominate the Islamic establishment here.

There are lessons to be learnt from Indonesia and Morocco, in education reform, and from Iran, where an Islamic revolution has failed to deliver on its promises of justice, freedom and prosperity.

So too from among the many Islamic scholars who have been forced to live in exile in the West because their lives were endangered and their houses firebombed by fellow Muslims back home.

Many of these scholars are now at the forefront of the new Islamic scholarship emerging in the last 15 years or so, generating new possibilities of meaning in our engagement with the Text and the Tradition in the light of the realities of our lives today, the circumstances we live in, and the challenges we face.

In Indonesia, besides the abundance of progressive scholarship by their own thinkers, new writings by Muslim scholars in English, French, Arabic and Persian, are translated into Bahasa Indonesia within months of publication.

They are consumed voraciously by students, scholars and activists, huddled together in numerous "diskusi" (discussion) groups on campuses, in pesantren and in the community.

The writings of feminist Islamic scholars such as Amina Wadud, Ziba Mir-Hosseini, Asma Barlas, Leila Ahmad, Fatima Mernissi and Riffat Hassan, and even Sisters in Islam’s letters-to-the-editor and Question and Answer booklets are among student reading materials in courses on Islam and gender, contemporary Islamic thought, Islamic jurisprudence and Quranic Interpretation.

Gender studies are integrated into every discipline.

The Gender Studies Centre in the Islamic universities in Jakarta and Yogyakarta train teaching staff and students in gender and Islam.

The undergraduate and graduate programmes offer courses in Gender and Theology, Gender and Islamic Jurisprudence, Family and Gender in Religious Perspective.

A new Master’s programme in Gender and Religion has been introduced at the State Islamic University in Jakarta.

In courses taught by these progressive scholars, a diversity of opinions from a diversity of sources and periods are studied and debated.

Students are taught to understand critically and analytically the methodology and processes of textual and legal interpretation within historical and contemporary social and legal contexts.

Law is not taught as dogma, but as socially constructed within particular times and circumstances.

The source may be divine, but the knowledge produced is a human construct to serve the cause of justice of that period.

None of the Islamic studies or Islamic law faculties in Malaysia comes close to this pedagogy, even in offering a basic course on Contemporary Islamic Thought.

This is not surprising.

An ideological battle is taking place between those who demand an Islamic state asserting different rights for men and women, for Muslims and non-Muslims and those who believe in a democratic state with equal rights, fundamental liberties and justice for all, and who celebrate the blessings of this multi-ethnic and multi-religious country.

Where Islamic studies in Malaysia is concerned, the Islamic state ideologues are in control.

At the street level, the mob rule displayed in Penang last Sunday took this ideological battle to another level.

The police, in asking law-abiding citizens engaged in a rational and peaceful discussion on constitutional matters to consider aborting their meeting, set a dangerous precedent. Those who threatened peace and public order were allowed to prevail over those who believe in dialogue and the Constitution.

fathi aris omar said...

Yes, after reading Zainah Anwar's column today (NST), I remember my own letter to Malaysiakini.com (20 May 2004):

The conservatives’ ‘covert operation’
Fathi Aris Omar
[columnist 'Tiada Noktah']

It does not surprise me when Dr Syed Alwi Ahmad refers to some writers (or activists) who keep questioning religious orthodoxy as ‘frustrated’ Western-educated yuppies in his letter ‘Common ground needed for ulama, yuppie.’ (Malaysiakini.com, 19 May 2004)

If he ‘dares to know’ (as Immanuel Kant puts it), non-fundamentalist Muslim scholars worldwide have debated this matter. But you rarely stumble on this in Malaysia. Such debates are alien because of our rigidly conservative environment.

Furthermore, there has been a ‘covert operation’ to control information. The educated, the preachers and the activists have a narrowly selective approach. They highlight ideas, events and personalities that suit very well only their traditionalist, close-minded position.

For instance, the widely read Islamist publication Harakah does not report what has been going on in Iran in recent years -- the tension between the reformists and the conservatives there. Neither do other Islamic magazines or religious columns in our national dailies and TV programmes.

The opposition newsletter mentioned above also does not report fairly on the extensive debate on Islam, e.g. the emergence of ‘liberal Islam’ groups in countries throughout the world.

Non-fundamentalist scholars are never welcome. To these Islamists, their ideas are ‘less Islamic’ or not so authentic. Abdullah Na’em, Mohamad Arkoun, Hassan Hanafi, Nawal El-Saadawi, Fazlur Rahman, Nurcholish Madjid and others are circuitously ‘banned’ or ‘censored’, not legally, but socio-culturally.

Their works are NOT discussed, translated or quoted in popular forms.

An interesting example is Seyyed Hossein Nasr’s Traditional Islam in the Modern World, a critique on the fundamentalist approach to Islam which has not been popular, though his other books, criticising modernism and Western philosophy of science, have been well received.

But we have plenty from Syed Qutb, Yusof Qardhawi and Maududi. Qardhawi’s Al-Shahwah al-Islamiah baina al-Juhud wa al-Tatharruf (on extremism among Islamists) is much less popular than his Fatawa ma’asyirah (his religious opinions on recent issues) among Malaysian Muslims, for example. So is our treatment of Hassan Hudaibi’s Du’at la khuda’.

My contention is this: Why do such things happen? What do our choice of books and selection of issues imply?

We have to admit with full frankness, that with 30 years of Islamic revivalism and with the help of the government’s Islamic policies as well as pressure from political Islamists, we have not achieved much. One area, which is still lacking is the intellectual development.

“No in-depth analyses”, as Chandra Muzaffar put it in his Islamic Resurgence in Malaysia a long time ago.

“Over-simplification and over-generalisation of Islam,” as Anwar Ibrahim once said in the United States some 20 years ago.

They precisely vocalized then our current malaise.

Unlike our Muslim forefathers who fervently adopted or Islamised (whichever you like), ‘foreign’ ideas, we are terrified of contemporary Western ideas.

"I am not sure that Islam is compatible with Western liberal democracy because there are many teachings in Islam which cannot be altered simply on the basis of a majority vote," Dr Syed Alwi argues.

(‘Liberal democracy’ and ‘a majority vote’? Unfortunately, I don’t get what he is trying to say here. Public discourse, democracy and vote? It sounds like a ‘Malaysia Boleh’ kind of concept for politics).

Although Islamic fundamentalist movements worldwide have been successfully attracting many modern-educated scholars and professionals, even from Western universities (see Karen Armstrong’s The Battle for God), traditionalists still reign tightly over the content and direction of our Islamic revivalism.

Or, can we safely conclude that the traditionalists have ‘hijacked’ it because of modern-educated and professional Muslims’ heavy reliance on their (the traditionalists’) religious interpretation?

Conservative ulama work hand-in-hand with these professionals in Islamic missionary works and the collaboration has allowed the gradual subversion of minds.

We refuse to acknowledge this because we trust them. The ‘green’ effect of religious confidence provided by the ulama helps reinforce the mental paralysis.

Why do we place full trust, without critical appraisal, on them?

The clear answer: Ignorance of religious education that breeds inflexibility of minds. We want to be God-fearing creatures, so we accept conservative ulama interpretation whole-heartedly.

When it comes to the halal-haram decision-making process, we dump our critical minds aside. We don’t research more thoroughly on our own, for instance.

We willingly let the so-called ulama (or religious activists) decide (and manipulate) personal matters and public issues on our behalf.

We surrender our mental powers to them. We believe unquestioningly in it, we faithfully practice it and we religiously disseminate it.

We don’t argue with the conservative ulama; oft-times they loathe – as Dr Syed Alwi said – to be argued with.

"They prefer to stick to what the Qur'an teaches them – ‘we hear and we obey’. Absolute faith!" he writes.

Besides, the ulama also relentlessly gives the artificial impression (not to say ‘half-truths’) that they are the chosen ones (after the Prophet) and the most pious.

Al-ulama warithatun anbiya (a saying of the Prophet) and innama yakhsa Allah min ‘ibadihi al-ulama (a Quranic verse), we are taught over and over.

After 30 years of Islamic awakening in Malaysia (and all over the globe), everyone is preaching a conservatively didactic notion of life.

Malay entertainment journalists, artistes, creative writers and even disco-goers nowadays are somewhat ‘Islamic’ (in one form or another).

I deliberately refuse to argue further with Dr Syed Alwi simply because what he wrote has strengthened my argument that the public sphere is a real dilemma for Islamic activists.

My suggestion to have a vibrant discourse on the ‘Islamic conception of public sphere’ is left open.

It is an on-going free-for-all participation - though not a seasonal fiesta!

[Malaysiakini, May 20th, 2004]

Anonymous said...

Sunday Star, May 21, 2006

Sensitive way to handle issues

On The Beat
By WONG CHUN WAI

IT has to be handled in the most sensitive and delicate manner, but we must not turn a blind eye to issues affecting Malaysians in a plural society.

If we do not tackle these matters sensibly, honestly and in a compassionate manner, then we are not doing justice to ourselves. When we embrace a religion, be it Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or Christianity, it is a very personal matter.

It means entering into a relationship with God. Often, for the faithful, it means a change of lifestyle. But the most poignant reality is that sometimes, conversion into another religion is also because of love that leads to marriage.

In the case of inter-racial marriages, the reality is that sometimes, marriages fail and when that happens, people may want to go back to their previous religion. In other countries, it would have been a simple and straightforward matter, but in Malaysia, it can become a thorny issue.

So, we have ended up in a murky situation. The moderate and more sensible politicians have preferred to discuss these issues behind closed doors, away from emotional and sometimes irrational individuals.

Then there are the legalists who argue their case strictly from what is written in the Constitution. That means interpretation of semantics. It can be a cold and elitist approach but they have valid reasons.

After all, what is the point of having a Constitution, a properly defined document of laws and principles, if we are not going to respect and follow what has been agreed upon?

For that matter, what is the role and function of the courts and the legislature if these issues are hijacked by religious bodies or, sometimes, by individuals with political ambitions?

Malaysians have yet to come to the point where we are brave enough to adopt a critical attitude towards those who mesmerise us through religion. Irrespective of our faith, not many of us dare to question religious leaders even if their stand is flawed because we see them as God’s men, forgetting that they are mere humans.

They may be learned and trained but that doesn’t give them full control over followers of the various faiths. If we are to be progressive and to move forward to become a civil society, then we must adapt ourselves to deal with those who attempt to put up a theocratic structure for their own benefit.

It has to be granted that there would be disputes – with religious and communal connotations – when it involves prayer, death or marriage.

In a multi-racial country, it is right that we take a cautious approach, because the larger interest of the people is more important than that of individuals. The unity and harmony of the community as a whole must not be compromised.

That is why Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has wisely called on various groups to exercise caution, especially in any debate about syariah and civil jurisdictions.

The Prime Minister has rightly said that organisers must be careful as the subject is sensitive. He has been just and fair-minded when he said recently that the public forum on the protection of minority rights under the Federal Constitution was legal and not banned but advised them that they must avoid treading on dangerous grounds.

The organisers of Article 11, an umbrella group of 13 non-governmental bodies, must remember that those who oppose their views have similar rights to hold meetings to express themselves.

When meetings with opposing views are held, there would be some who may intentionally stir up arguments that can be hurtful.

Abdullah is correct in calling for caution because many of us often see things only from our own perspective. We talk about our rights, forgetting that others have rights, too.

The police must be commended for acting in a professional manner, given the emotive situation, by asking the forum organisers to cut short their closed-door meeting and asking the protesters to disperse.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz was harsher in his criticism of the protesters.

It can only be described as mob behaviour, which must not be tolerated in any civilised society. No lawful society should accept such behaviour by those who try to legitimise their actions in the name of religion. There is such a thing as rule of law.

One leader of the protesters was the Penang Ulama Association of Malaysia assistant secretary Hafiz Nordin. He is also the state PAS deputy youth chief but he denied the party was behind the protest. Last week, PAS Youth handed a memorandum to the Prime Minister’s Office calling for action against the organisers of Article 11.

Penang police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Christopher Wan said that action would be taken against the protesters, who called themselves the Anti-Inter Faith Commission Body, pointing out that they were from “a political party”.

I am reliably informed that active high-level discussions are taking place among political, religious and non-governmental groups on these issues. Those involved in these talks are a multi-racial and multi-religious group of people with high integrity and credibility and I believe that they would be able to come up with some fair and accepted solutions.

Issues affecting marriage, divorce, child custody and burial rites should not be the monopoly of religious elites. Regardless of their religion, they are not the sole, authoritative interpreters of their respective religions by virtue of their religious training.

The “holier-than-thou” and narrow approach of the religious establishment, who sometimes refuse to accept the perspectives of other faiths beyond their own, can be obstacles to reform.

I am positive and optimistic that our Cabinet, which include the heads of many Barisan Nasional component parties, would be able to tackle these issues well. But certainly not politicians masquerading as religious leaders.

Our Barisan leaders are elected representatives of the people, and they, and not the theocrats, should determine what is best for the people. They should not get themselves clouded with issues, which some may want to complicate, because at the end of it, it is about the personal and private lives of ordinary Malaysians.

We must be alert against policies, seemingly religious, which run contrary to our Constitution and laws. We must hold sacred to these principles of laws because they were agreed by our founding fathers.

No one has a right to judge anyone because in any religion, it is God and God alone who determines all, and that right to abrogate that power has not been given to anyone. That should be clear.

Wong Chun Wai can be reached at onthebeat@thestar.com.my

Anonymous said...

Sunday Star (May 21, 2006)

Rule of Law or mob rule?

Point of View
By TUN HANIF OMAR

On Sunday last, as we all know, an Article 11 public forum held in Penang as the third in a planned series organised by a number of NGOs was prematurely aborted in compliance with police “advice”.

And as we follow the reaction in the newspapers and in Parliament, there has been more disappointment with than support for the turn of events.

What prompted this turn was the apparent Georgetown police’s “inability” to continue to guarantee the safety of the forum and its 250-odd participants from a heckling, boisterous mob described as between 200 and 500 strong, some of whom had got into the hall to disrupt the proceedings.

Article 11 of the Federal Constitution is titled, “Freedom of religion”, and in view of recent cases such as the “Moorthy” case and the presence of two prominent Muslim lawyers as some of the forum’s speakers, I assume the forum to be multi-racial although perhaps attended more by non-Muslims as they are currently the majority of those who seek to understand, through forums such as this, the parameters of their legal and constitutional rights.

Article 11 enunciates the constitutional position on this matter not only for non-Muslims but also for Muslims, not only for citizens but also for everyone in the country. That is why it will profit everyone, Muslims and non-Muslims, to attend such talks and forums on this matter that engage knowledgeable speakers.

The untimely ending of the forum meant that two of the five scheduled speakers did not manage to deliver their views and one of them was Prof Dr Shad Faruqi, an eminent expert on Malaysian constitutional law whom I had engaged in my IGP days to lecture at the Police College.

It is a pity that the participants were deprived of the benefit of his input. I would advise them to go to one of last Thursday’s newspapers for his views.

Although the participants were multi-racial, the disturbing crowd was probably wholly Muslim and that was one of the greatest pities. Who organised the protest mob? The resultant police investigation will probably reveal this but there were a few pointers, according to my informant.

Several weeks ago, even before the forum had published its date, posters were sighted in Penang saying to the effect, “Don’t seize our rights,” “Don’t humiliate Islam,” “Don’t insult our Prophet” and “Say no to Inter-Faith Commission”.

I was further informed that Friday before last, a pamphlet titled “Bantah Penubuhan IFC” was sighted in Penang, which carried words that incited some form of action and was allegedly published by “ACCIN c/o Pertubohan Jemaah Islah Malaysia”. Is there such an organisation, and was it involved or was its name “hijacked”? I am sure the police will get behind all this.

To me, the great pity is that the disturbing crowd did not attend the forum and listen to the proceedings so that they could determine whether the speakers and participants were really humiliating Islam and insulting our Prophet, may peace be upon him!

That way, they could have determined the truth and not lend themselves to unbridled emotions and the manipulation of obscurantists and misguided “leaders”.

Muslims must act rationally and always seek the truth. The irrational behaviour of some of us marks us out as not being “men of knowledge” or “ilmuan” but “men given to emotions and impulses” who can be easily exploited.

If the protesters were knowledgeable about Islam and they suspected that the forum could disseminate inaccuracies about Islam, they could have lent their knowledge to correct the inaccuracies like rational men of the 21st century. I am sure they would have been blessed for their efforts.

As it was, by besmirching the image of Muslims as rational men in full control of their emotions, I am not sure of its positive value.

Two days ago, I asked a retired, Muslim police officer originally from Penang how such a thing could still happen and his answer was simply that some politicians are grasping for issues to exploit.

When the increase in the price of fuel at the pumps was so handled as to make it acceptable and not combustible, what better inflammable issue to exploit in our multi-racial and multi-creed nation than the tinder of religious and racial issues?

I am sure the Penang police had this in mind when they advised the forum organisers to call it a day. They probably knew that the brains behind the mob were itching for the police to manhandle the protesters, which could be grist for their further incitement.

In Parliament, one speaker alluded to the episode as the police forsaking the rule of law and giving in to mob rule. Another questioned as to whether peace and security was not better than the rule of law.

In both instances I think the honourable members were confused between the “rule by law” and the “rule of law”. By the rule by law, the police have the power to even stop the proceedings for valid reason but by the rule of law, such decision by them is subject to judicial review to determine the validity of their exercise of their discretion.

Maybe the police lost last Sunday’s battle; let us see whether they have profited from it to win the war against rabble-rousers and mob rule.

Previous articles of Tun Hanif's Point of View are available at thestar.com.my/columnists