The recent brouhaha over the Alvivi issue insulting Islam and being hauled up to face action has certainly awakened a hornet's nest. But why exactly have we got this palpable anger on the streets? I argue here that this is mainly due to the government's selective prosecution in the past.
A lot of us who think the Alvivi case is overkill need to understand a few things:
1. Two wrongs don't make a right. Pointing out that Ibrahim Ali, Ridhuan Tee Abdullah and Zulkifli Noordin were left untouched by the authorities for their Christian,Chinese and Hindu bashing does not absolve these two for their actions. Would we argue that Mr. X should not be charged for statutory rape because that national bowler was let off the hook? No, we won't. That is stupid.
These two are not idiots. The guy was an NUS scholar in Law! He at the very least knew what he was up to. This was not the work of an ignorant bigot. This was the work of a very knowledgeable bigot. WTF was he trying to prove? I am all for free speech, but only if we understand that if we think we can say whatever we want, we must be responsible for what we say and do. They purposefully went out to hurt feelings here. For what only they can tell us but they knew full well what their actions would spark.
2. We all know how sensitive Muslims are about insults to their religion. Too sensitive? Absolutely no doubt. Prone to over-reacting? That is stating the bloody obvious. Understandable? Perhaps, perhaps not. Bottom line is why unnecessarily provoke them then? What did Muslims ever do to these two people to deserve this insult? And a grave insult it is too. I for one will never understand the sensitivity Malaysian Muslims have about pork. I hardly think it is a central tent of the religion. But does it matter what I think? Is it not enough that I do know it is sensitive to them, same as other things are sensitive to me (Manchester United fans talking shit for example....)? Why then do this when you end up insulting so many that you have never even met? Maybe it was not meant as an insult-maybe it was meant to provoke Muslims in Malaysia to think about how Hindus feel when you eat beef in the open. Maybe it was an attempt to get them to think that it is better for Muslims to concentrate on the central tenets of their religion such as not being racist, or not taking bribes, rather than to bother with the marginal aspects of the religion such as dietary requirements. YEAH RIGHT!!! It was meant as an insult, I have no doubt about it. Let's not beat about the bush-these two knew exactly what they were doing.
But equally a lot of Muslims who want action taken against them must also understand:
3. That non-Muslims are asking what about Ibrahim Ali, Ridhuan Tee Abdullah and Zulkifli Noordin also? And this is excluding those bigots who think Islam (and hence Malays) can be insulted but not their own race or religion. These are those who are asking for consistency. These are not those who are saying don't charge Alvivi. These are those who say charge them, but then please charge all the others to.
If you are angry and want action taken against Alvivi but not these three, why? And the answer to your 'why' will be very instructive indeed. I hope it does not show a level of hypocrisy and sense of religious supremacy which I keep getting told, runs counter to the tenets of Islam. But I will find it hard to believe that if you can do that without, at the very least showing hypocritical (if not worse) tendencies. I congratulate PAS for stating the bloody obvious in this case.
4. Have you let them win by their provocations? Note I did not ask the same question to those who think Ibrahim Ali, Ridhuan Tee Abdullah and Zulkifli Noordin should have action taken against them. This is because there is an unequal power-play between religions in Malaysia. Same as women-only gyms are not seen as sexist but a reflection of a society that (somewhat) still oppresses women while male-only clubs will be seen as discriminatory and sexist, so it is that we must all acknowledge that non-Muslims have to live under the spirit of the Islamic religion (or the particular Malaysian interpretation of it). When the minority is provoked, having already feeling marginalised, they feel even further threatened. I can hardly say the same when the majority is insulted. What threat is there to Islamic dominance?
Mind you, I understand being provoked. I was quite angry, and I am not even Muslim. It just defies common-sense. But I think ignoring them would have been better. They are wannabes, whereas the 3 'gentlemen' I keep mentioning are men of power who should be held responsible for their race and religion baiting. There could have been bloodshed given what these three have being saying. They have power, unlike Alvivi. These two could easily have been ignored. Now they are going to be heroes in some (probably idiot's) eyes. Have we ('we' being all of us who fight racism and religious intolerance) let these bigots win? In this case I think not-I don't think we have made them look like heroes, though no doubt they will be once the govt charges them but not our three 'gentlemen'.
Ultimately the government must take the bulk of the blame for these idiotic action (Ibrahim Ali, Ridhuan Tee Abdullah, Zulkifli Noordin and Alvivi). Their non-actions, and silence when these bigots attack non-Muslims provokes others. This is especially so when the attack comes via UMNO's racist mouthpiece in the form of Utusan Malaysia. When some idiotic 'others' respond like the bigots they hate but actually ape, the government hits them like a category 5 cyclone! The latest news is that they will not just be up against the Seditions Act, but also some non-descript penal code charge as well as the Multimedia Act. If they had initially charged our three political wonders, then that will shut people up. At the very least it would have shut up those who are saying 'why charge the non-Muslims but not the Muslims?'
Actually to be perfectly frank, I'd be happy if no one was charged as well. Just let bigots make bigoted statements and hope society is mature enough to deal with it. The law must be applied equally, no? Don't just charge the non-Muslims and let the Muslims off the hook in these instances. This creates a heated atmosphere and when the government asks for cool heads to prevail, they are being the biggest hypocrites of all.