Not satisfied with simply being just another entrant in the competition, the Malaysian government has decided to up the stakes and go for top billing. From yesterday’s Australian:
Malaysian Islam ‘sliding towards fundamentalist violence’ | Rowan Callick
Islam in Malaysia is on “a steady slide towards fundamentalism and even violence”, according to a leading expert who is backed by a growing chorus of concern expressed in the country this week.
Farouk Peru, editor of the book Critical Thinkers for Islamic Reform, made the warning yesterday in welcoming an open letter from 25 leading Malaysians, which expressed “deep dismay” about the growing assertion of extremist Islamism in their country – with the support, or toleration, of the government.
the letter, from senior Malaysians including former public service heads, judges, ambassadors and generals, focused on the increasingly harsh application of Islamic laws, including turning “sins” into crime against the state.
“At last, some prominent Malays have decided to speak up to save the race and this country from becoming an ISIS state,” lawyer and former legal affairs minister Zaid Ibrahim, referring to the Islamic State group fighting for a caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
He said Malays must be exposed to various interpretations of Islam that are consistent with a modern world. Mr Peru said sharia law, whose authority is steadily growing in Malaysia, was developed within an expansionist, imperialist framework – and “such laws are usually against the letter and spirit of the Koran”.
He said while freedom of religion is guaranteed in Malaysia’s constitution, “it is forcibly being taken away from Malay Muslims by sharia law”, which he branded an “anachronistic throwback” …
[Malaysian Prime Minister] Najib a fortnight ago told his UMNO party congress that he would renege on his vow to repeal the country’s colonial-era Sedition Act, and would instead strengthen it with “a special clause to protect the sanctity of Islam”.
This year more than 30 people have already been charged under the act, which carries a three-years jail term, for criticising the government.
Mr Najib pledged before the last election that he would repeal the controversial act because it “represents a bygone era” …
He has attacked as “deviationist … human rightism, where the core beliefs are based on humanism and secularism as well as liberalism.”
“We will not tolerate any demands or right to apostasy by Muslims, or deny Muslims their right to be governed by sharia courts and neither will we allow Muslims to engage in LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) activities,” he said.
So there you go – Prime Minister Najib, who knows what’s best for Malaysia’s Muslims, even without asking them, setting a high bar for top billing at the festival!