Nothing unusual or odd. There is a strong anti-Hindu, anti-Christian attitude among the Muslim mullahs in Malaysia. They also want to be ‘real muslims’ like the Saudis. Malaysian Tamils (the only significant ‘Indian’ group in Malaysia) are the poorest and most downthrodden people in the country. Partly because of poor education and partly because of their Harijan heritage. The north Indians (Brahmins), Sindhis and Sikhs are all well off comparatively but they are a tiny minority.
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Goodman is right and it is time that educated Tamils take his suggestion seriously. Malaysia and Indonesia known for a gentle version of Islam are fast drifting towards extremism. The meeting of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in November last was a shocking display of divisiveness. Some speeches were overtly racist and called for violence to settle religious /political differences. One of the delegates, Hasnoor Sidanng Hussain declared: “ UMNO is willing to risk lives and bathe in blood in defence of race and religion “. Education Minister Hishnumuddin Hussain unsheathed a keris (Malay dagger) at the meeting, in an blatant attempt to pander to the racist/religious hardliners in the party. The Prime Minister and his deputy disavowed the inflammatory rhetoric in their speeches. Still the chest thumbing makes it clear the Prime Minister is increasingly under pressure from the Islamic extremists. Earlier a mob ransacked and attacked a meeting intended to discuss religious pluralism; the clear message is that equating Islam with another religion is blasphemy and is unacceptable. The minority groups of Christians, Hindus, Sikhs Chinese are increasingly getting worried.
In the neighboring Indonesia, the world’s largest muslim majority nation, even more troubling scenes are playing out. Few months back, a radical Islamic preacher publicly called for the murder of Bush during his Indonesian visit. In Jakarta three muslims are on trial for allegedly decapitating three Christian school girls as they were walking to the school. In the main island of Java several churches have been closed by young muslim thugs. The mainstream muslim groups are themselves worried by the radicalization. Both the countries, religious freedom is protected under the constitution; but at the ground level, minority rights are slowly being denied/withdrawn. Both states have their own shariat code and the lines delieanating the religion and the state is slowly being erased. It is true the vast majority in both countries are tolerant in their practice of religion and the fundamentalists have limited audience. But they are gaining traction and there is a danger that the population can be swayed by the emotional appeals of militant preachers. It is time that the moderates initiate a debate, what is the type of Islam and society they will have, now and in future, before it is late, as the muslim psyche is highly incendiary. As I have always held out in my comments, moderate Islam is non existent and there can be only degrees in extremism.