Friday, September 26, 2008

KL to fight ‘Islamophobia’

The Star 26 Sept

NEW YORK: Malaysia has pledged to be at the forefront of an international effort to fight “Islamophobia”.

Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said that Malaysia had agreed to work with the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to play a more positive role in the effort.

To counter the “illogical” portrayals of Islam, he said an international forum would be held early next year in the United States to be attended by the heads of government, scholars and representatives from organisations linked with religious tolerance.

In discus sion: Dr Rais (left) in talks with Commonwealth Secretary- General Kamalesh Sharma (right) and his counterpar t from Uganda Sam Kutesa on the sidelines of the Commonwealth Foreign Ministers Meeting in New York on Wednesday. — Bernama

Briefing Malaysian journalists here on Wednesday of his meeting with OIC secretary-general Ekmeleddin Ihsa-noglu, Dr Rais said there should be a more accurate portrayal of the religion.

The minister, who is leading Malaysia’s delegation to the United Nations General Assembly here, said the OIC had expressed the need for Malaysia’s involvement in the effort.

“If we, as a member nation of the OIC, do not give our co-operation, then we would be failing as a member of the OIC,” he added.

Dr Rais said the United States was picked to host the forum because of “the diverse views of religions here.” “This is also where Sept 11 took place,” he said, referring to the terrorist attacks here in 2001.

He also hoped that the forum would open a new window to better understanding of civilisation, adding that he would present a report to the Cabinet on the plans for the forum.

Monster says: Personally I find it ironic (re: laughable) that Malaysia, of all nations, seeks to engage with representatives linked with religious tolerance.

This is when as Malaysian citizens:

  • we are not allowed to hold dialogues on religion freedom (re: Article 11 forums)
  • unable to sit together to address common issues and religion concerns (re: shooting down of attempts to set up the Inter-faith Commission)
  • dissuaded from discussing conversion (re: Bar Council’s attempt at its highly politicised public forum)
  • being intimidated from writing one’s mind over religion (re: RPK’s detention in Kamunting by virtue of s8 ISA )
  • do not have clear recourse to justice when there is a conflict of jurisdiction. (Re: Shamala Sathiyaseelan v Dr. Jeyaganesh C. Mogarajah;   Moorthy Maniam). There is no progress towards pluging this lacuna because the initiatives by the Bar Council and civil groups have so far failed, and the government does not seem to see a need to legislate.

Hence before our government intends to take on the world in speaking about religious tolerance and dispelling “islamophobia”, perhaps it should take a good hard look in its own backyard and look towards dispelling its own institutionalised “christianophobia”, “hinduphobia”, “buddhistophobia”, all what is essentially its “non-muslimophobia”.  

It’s a two way street. I will defend your right to embrace whatever organised religion or belief system you have. Go ahead. Be an atheist if that suits you. And I seek not your approval nor acceptance of my beliefs, but I seek that you accept that I have a right to mine. And that we all stand equal as fellow human beings.

And if we are as secure in our beliefs as we say we are,  there will be no need for fear, intimidation or disrespect because we will hold true to our common religious values of peace, humility and wholesomeness.  

But then, who ask me to be an idealist. End up I am so constantly disappointed.

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