PETALING JAYA: Insulting Islam is unacceptable. Similarly, other religions in the country need to be equally respected, said moderate advocators.
“We remind our fellow citizens that resorting to law to criminalise opinions and views on religion is a double-edged sword. Let us put that sword away so we do not end up as a cut up and impaired nation,” said the moderates in a joint statement.
They are former MP Mohamed Tawfik Ismail, activist lawyer Siti Kasim, public policy analyst Dr Lim Teck Ghee, University Malaya professor of political economy Prof Edmund Terence Gomez and UCSI University architecture professor Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi.
Their joint statement condemned the unhealthy trend of irresponsible individuals and political parties harping on issues associated with religious insults to attract votes.
“Such callous action borders on rabble-rousing and will put the country in a heightened state of uneasiness and fear.
“The government of the day seems unwilling or unable to respond to these acts of opportunism by irresponsible parties for their own selfish end,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said his call to news portals to impose self-regulatory exercises to keep comments moderate was not aimed at curtailing civil liberties.“Freedom of expression is not meant to promote lewd, vulgar or sexist comments.
“Neither should we condone physical threats or threats of bodily harm on social media,” he said.
While he believed that people should be free to discuss topics freely on social media, it should not be abused to the extent of violating laws leading to social unrest.
While the government upheld the right to free speech, it should come attached with a sense of responsibility, he added.
Gobind said he would also get feedback from the soon-to-be-formed media council to find ways to promote responsible use of social media without compromising the right to freedom of expression.
Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism said action taken against those fanning racial and religious hatred must be highlighted.
“Awareness on enforcement action taken is crucial to send out a strong message that those who publicly mock the religion of another will not go unpunished,” said its president Datuk R. S. Mohan Shanmugam.
Mohan said action should also be taken against offenders from the same ethnic group who insulted the religion of their own forefathers.
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