Murder, whether committed by the state or by rogue terrorists or even by so-called Islamic revolutionaries, is still murder.
WHO will stand up for the Christians? is the title to an opinion piece crafted by Ronald S. Lauder, president of the World Jewish Congress, that appeared in the International New York Times on Aug 21. In the article, he is critical of the world for remaining silent on the atrocities committed by Boko Haram in Nigeria and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) – which now goes by the name Islamic State (IS) – who, from his point of view, are slaughtering Christians. At the same time he is upset with the United Nations for focusing on Israel’s wrongdoings.
As a fellow human being who happens to be a Muslim, I am disgusted by the actions of all the above parties. When Boko Haram and IScommit their atrocities, they are no better than Israel and, in fact, hurt the cause of the Palestinians in Gaza who themselves are being slaughtered by the Israelis. My fellow Malaysians and I are in full support for the plight of those in Gaza but if we are to maintain the moral high ground, we must also vigorously condemn the likes of Boko Haram and IS. We cannot remain silent. We need to call a spade a spade.
If we Malaysians look through the lens of a moderate, we should be able to distinguish clearly right from wrong. Murder, whether committed by the state (such as in the case of Israel in Gaza) or by rogue terrorists (as in the case of Boko Haram) or even by so-called Islamic revolutionaries (IS), is still murder.
All of them claim a cause no matter how ridiculous or tenuous it may be. Murdering women, children and innocent civilians cannot be accepted by any civilised society. There is no excuse.
I should think that after what happened with MH17 and MH370, Malaysians should be clear on that. Those who came to our aid were mostly non-Muslims and even Western countries. We are fortunate to have such friends around the globe. These friendships have been built over a number of decades and no Malaysian, except for perhaps a few hardline extremists, would want to put this in jeopardy.
Even those who perished in these two disasters claimed many nationalities, religions and ethnicities. It just goes to show how interconnected we all are.
Contrast that with our other national tragedy that occurred in Sabah with the attack by the so-called “Suluk” terrorists. Were they not Muslims who killed so many of our own security forces, most of whom were Muslims too? Frankly, I wouldn’t categorise them as either Muslims or Suluks as we have many of both in Sabah who are Malaysians and who are overwhelmingly loyal to both Sabah and Malaysia. Those who attacked us are simply criminals. Call them terrorists, pirates or bandits but refrain from using their religion, ethnicity or even nationality. That is just an insult to those good people that may share any of their characteristics.
With Malaysia Day soon to be upon us, I feel we should reflect carefully on the so-called “Arab Spring” and look more deeply into its failings, especially in Libya and Syria. It seems that despite all the sacrifices of the local population, things are not improving. To the outside world, it appears that the locals are fighting each other, spurred on by Islamists as well as a few state players, acting very badly.
Of course I could say that the same won’t happen in Malaysia because our Muslims are generally Malay and not Arab. We still have a constitutional monarchy whereas Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Syria are basically republics. We actually have a democracy, though imperfect, but still miles ahead of anything the “Arab Spring” countries had. At the same time though race plays some part in our politics, we are not tribal.
The problem is that there are hardliners in Malaysia who appear to want to emulate the above countries and, if they succeed in convincing our people to look backwards, we will lose the freedom gifted to us by our forefathers.
To my mind, Malaysia is like a beautifully stitched sweater that keeps us all warm from the cold chill of extremism. We are far from perfect but generally accommodating even to the most ludicrous ideas. We let people with low IQs and even lower EQs influence our people. We hope and pray that our people can see things rationally.
No, our hardliners are not evil. But if we change our stitching, we risk not only our sweater looking ugly but also the fabric being torn beyond repair. At that time, evil will rear its ugly head and we will rue the day we sided with partisanship, race or religion, and not with merit.
Finally to answer the rhetorical question posed by Mr Lauder at the beginning of this article, Malaysians too are part of the international community and have proved time and again, whether in Somalia or in Timor-Leste that we will stand by those in need, regardless of their religion or ethnicities.
Selamat Hari Malaysia.
The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own.