Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa and Ahmad Fuad Rahmat,
21 May 2012
The riot at Merlimau, Melaka by anti-Bersih, UMNO inspired youths is evidence of the increasing degree to which intimidation and violence is becoming a frequent strategy by certain players in the ruling power structure.
It was clear that the threat and intimidation were aimed against those who were merely exercising their democratic right to voice their opinions on the policies of the current government.
Reports indicate the presence of police officers at the location and yet why did they not stop the riot from happening? Is it not their duty to ensure the safety and security of all citizens, regardless of their party affiliations?
Will Malaysia’s Muftis who so willingly spoke out against Bersih also speak out against the Merlimau riot? Why do we not hear these Muftis now nagging about the limits of freedom and the importance of law and order in Islam?
Or, are the Merlimau rioters somehow exempted from the standards of good conduct simply by virtue of their racist-fascist beliefs and ethno-nationalist party affiliation?
Will we hear condemnation and obsession of what happened in Merlimau by the mainstream media? Or will their pages and airtime be channeled entirely towards demoinizing the hard work of Malaysians from all races who are demanding genuine democratic reforms?
Those who are more alert to the real workings of Malaysian politics will rightly read those questions with cynicism. The point that cannot be denied is that we are witnessing is systematic terrorization to quell democratic dissent.
Bersih was a clear set of demands for electoral reforms that have yet to be met. What happened in Merlimau – preceded by butt exercises, sexist and racist intimidations and harassments against innocent Malaysian citizens – is fascist inspired catharsis from unruly insecure thugs.
It does not require anyone the slightest minute of education to be racist and anti-democratic, and yet racism and anti-democracy have been the central values that have been constantly espoused by the ruling party.
It is also clear that the goal is not so much the enlightenment of Malaysian citizens but their subjugation in ignorance so that the elite of that party can continue to govern and enrich themselves with impunity.
Racism was even legitimised by a scholar of Ulama’ Muda UMNO recently who said that Prophet Muhammad was racist. It is not surprising then to see the escalation of prejudiced attitudes and policies that favour a certain race over others since that is now endorsed by UMNO religious scholars themselves.
As an Islamic organization we are deeply saddened and outraged at the complicity of certain religious figures in tolerating UMNO’s constant recourse to thug violence and intimidation. Marx said that religion is the opium of the people. In Malaysia, we can now see who the dealers are.
* The writers represent Islamic Renaissance Front, Kuala Lumpur