The president of the extremist NGO Ikatan Musliman Malaysia (ISMA), Abdullah Zaik Abdul Rahman said that Muslim tourists from the Middle East would “cringe” at the manner in which the government promotes “infidel religions”, like Hinduism.
Zaik claimed that Muslim tourists “looked up to Malaysia as a modern Islamic country” and he issued a thinly veiled warning that Umno Baru president, Najib Tun Razak should maintain religious harmony.
ISMA objected to the Sri Sundaraja Perumal Hindu temple renovation in Klang, because the effort involved in the upgrade would imperil Malaysia’s image as a “model Islamic country”.
If anyone is wrong, it is ISMA. Multi-cultural Malaysia, and its present liberal stance, attracts Muslims from the Middle East; but once we become as extremist and intolerant as ISMA, or some middle-eastern nations, we might as well wave goodbye to all those middle-eastern petro-dollars which the nation currently enjoys.
Zaik and other members of ISMA should travel to Bangkok, Phuket, Jakarta, Manila or London, to witness the major attractions for Muslims tourists.
Zaik may be delightfully surprised to find that many “unhealthy, infidel practises” are a magnet for the Muslim tourist who finds that being in these countries is liberating, unlike the repressive and stifling atmosphere which he faces in his own country.
London’s Hyde Park and the banks of the Serpentine in summer are bathed in a sea of black robed middle-eastern women walking hand in hand with their husbands. Young middle-eastern women, in western clothing, drive or are seen clinging to young men, safe in the knowledge that they will not be accosted by their religious police.
Zaik will find many similarities between the Malaysian Muslims and the middle-eastern Muslims who choose to go to places which are free of people, who share the views of ISMA.
Many of the Londoners are angry that their city is hijacked for three months of the year, every summer, by the middle-easterners who take over the centre of their city and treat their roads as racing tracks. These rich playboys are like the infamous Umno-Baruputra children who run riot in Kuala Lumpur.
The rich middle-easterners think they own the city, they park indiscriminately, they drive recklessly, they do not pay their parking fines and they drive without insurance. Their cars are often impounded.
The night clubs are full of young middle-eastern men and women enjoying themselves, whilst the casinos are full of middle-eastern men, spending their money on a past-time which they cannot enjoy in their own homelands.
Zaik must know that Thailand, a Buddhist nation, attracts large numbers of tourists from the Middle East. By day, the temples have not proved a deterrent to these tourists; nor have the nightspots in Patpong, been off-limits to any of their men-folk.
Last September, ISMA declared that syariah law should be the only law that is practiced in Malaysia and last week, continued their uncompromising stand, saying that the ban on the word ‘Allah’ should be applied to all Christians throughout Malaysia. ISMA alleges that the ‘Allah’ debacle is an attempt to convert Malays to Christianity.
ISMA demanded to know why the Bible should be translated into Malay and said that Chinese and Indian Christians read Bibles in English. He then said that Christians in East Malaysia did not necessarily read Malay Bibles and said, “Malay bibles are published in a larger number than the Christians themselves. Which means, to whom are they meant to be distributed?” (sic)
Zaik is wrong, again. He claims that our moderate Muslim image is at risk, but Malaysia’s moderate credentials were destroyed by the extremists like Hasan Ali, Ibrahim Ali and organisations like Perkasa.
Najib delights in telling the world that Malaysia is a “moderate Muslim nation”, but his failure to make his country practise what he preaches, is a total disgrace.
Keen to cultivate the friendship of foreign heads of state and mindful of their investments, Najib thrives on the false image that he has presented to them.
These leaders either do not know, or have chosen to ignore, that Malaysians back home are subjected to one of the most intolerant societies and unjust rules ever imposed on a modern quasi-democratic state.
He has not accepted that he is responsible for the deep divisions in society, nor has he shown remorse for encouraging the attacks, both verbal and physical, on the non-Muslims and non-Malays.
Najib’s inability to censure the extremists and advise them that non-Muslims have a right to practice their religion freely, have shown us precisely why he is not fit to lead Malaysia.
The irony is that a conservative Malaysia has no appeal to the tourists from the Middle East. Zaik has a difficult choice.
Would he prefer a multi-cultural moderate Malaysia which attracts an influx of middle-eastern wealth and all the benefits or drawbacks which this brings? Or would he prefer the purity of a truly religious and conservative Muslim nation, like Iran or the Yemen?