Cow Heads and Scapegoats
Well at least Najib has the sense not to openly fuel Hindu-Muslim conflict. Still, the spectator is reminded that Malaysia is for the Malays and Muslims mainly. This sort of tension forms the bedrock of the Hindus’ frustration and one can get a better understanding of how groups like Hindraf can take to the streets with enough numbers. Race and religion, especially when we defiantly and provocatively pin the badge on our chest shouting down others in the meantime, is a formula for disaster. The majority ethnic group in Malaysia doesn’t get it nor bothers to get it, comfortable in basking in its majority status and privileges like bumiputraism.
There is a side show to this. Pakatan Rakyat is now in the hot seat as this temple controversy is in their district and the spectator can bet BN will try to play the issue to their advantage, and shaking the upstart challenger’s image that it is for a more egalitarian Malaysia.
Back the question we should ask ourselves, is Singapore better than Malaysia in how we treat our minorities?
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak on Saturday quoted from the Quran to urge fellow Muslims not to insult people of other faiths, after residents of a Muslim-majority area, protesting re-location of a Hindu temple to their locality, carried cow heads in a rally on Friday.
Residents of Section 23 locality in Shah Alam, capital of Selangor state, staged a protest rally against relocation of a 150-year-old Sri Mariamman temple from Section 19 to their Muslim Malay-majority area.
The protest sparked controversy when some of the participants brought along cow’s head – an animal deemed sacred by the Hindus – and placed it at the state secretariat, Star Online said.
Addressing a gathering at a mosque amid observance of Ramzan, Razak urged Muslims to follow “the true Islamic teaching of showing respect” and refrain from condemning or insulting other religions and their believers.
Both Surah Al-Maidah (phrase 8 ) and Surah Al-An’am (Phrase 108) advised Muslims that if they went against other religions, this would cause the other believers to act violently against them, he said.
Muslims were also forbidden from insulting or desecrating items considered sacred to followers of other religions, so that, in turn, they would show respect to Islam, Razak added.
“During the era of prophet Muhammad, he himself allowed followers of other religions to practise what they believed, and forbade his followers from going against them. We hope during this holy Ramzan month, we can prove that we are the most disciplined followers,” said Razak.
The attorney general’s office tasked with initiating legal action has asked the police for extensive investigation. The police have interrogated over 100 people and has identified the wrongdoers, media reports said.
Meanwhile, several Malaysians staged a peaceful demonstration outside the country’s mission in London over the government’s handling of insulting display of cows heads.
At the meeting at Malaysian High Commission at Belgrave Square Friday, the protesters gathered for three hours holding placards and distributing leaflets to the public.
Hindus form a bulk of the nearly two million ethnic Indian population of Malaysia.
The incident has also acquired political hues with charges being exchanged between the federal government ruled by Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition and Selangor, that is ruled by the opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
A disclaimer came from a ruling alliance youth leader who reportedly participated in the protest.
Sohaimi Shadan, an executive council member of Umno Youth, denied he was the mastermind behind the protest, saying that he joined the group after Friday prayers at the state mosque.
The government asked online portal Malaysiakini to remove footage and videos on the cow heads protest from its website immediately following numerous public complaints.
In a letter, the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) requested the website to remove the videos as they had intentions to “annoy any person, especially Indians” – an offence under Communication and Multimedia Act 1998.
Malaysian Hindu Sangam chairman R.S. Mohan Shan said the group was firm in its stand that the best place to relocate the temple was in Section 23.
“I visited the location and I saw no obstruction and the construction of a temple will not disturb anybody,” he said.