Blogs > HNN > TALIBANIZATION OF MALAYSIA: It destroys 100 year old Hindu temple

Apr 21, 2006 7:30 pm

TALIBANIZATION OF MALAYSIA: It destroys 100 year old Hindu temple

Kerala Online reports:
As hundreds of thousands of Hindu devotees cried and even begged to stop, the Malaysian Authorities demolished a Hindu temple dedicated to Devi on Tuesday.The temple was more than hundred years old.According to reports,the Hindu devotees including the priests were forced to stop the prayers when the Malaysian Authorities brutally began to demolish the Malaimel Sri Selva Kaliamman Temple, situated in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, using bulldozers accompanied by police.Everybody was crying saying that how could a government do this brutality to a peace loving community.

Malaysia is not supposed to be Afghanistan under the Taliban, a place which blows up ancient statues, but a place where Malay, Chinese and Indians live peacefully side by side. Moreover, it is supposed to be an example of a Muslim country which deals successfully with the modern world.

Unfortunately, while the outright radical Islamists have not been making political progress, government actions such as the destruction of the temple are but one example of the increasing ability of Islamists to set the agenda. Other examples have to do with"decency laws". In"Matter of conscience, not policing," Zainah Anwar writes:

Remember the three young women who, seeking fame and fortune in Kuala Lumpur, entered the Miss Petite Malaysia contest, only to be unceremoniously hauled off the stage for"indecent behaviour"?

Remember the female pub singer who was charged with insulting Islam by being in a place that served alcohol? Never mind that the boys in the band were let off.

Remember the case of the two schoolmates, a boy and a girl, who were caned 25 times for the" crime" of talking to each other in public?

And, of course, we all remember the infamous raid on a fancy club in Kuala Lumpur last year when 100 young Muslim patrons were detained for several hours and subjected to verbal abuse and humiliation in a lock-up.

Fear that her country will follow in the footsteps of Shia Iran, rather than the defunct Sunni Taliban, is at the heart of Ms. Anwar's worries. However, Malaysia is only 60% Muslim. Hence, the growing tendency of the Federal justice system to defer to the Sharia is even more troublesome as the apostasy case which is currently in front of the court demonstrates. Putting the Sharia first means putting the rights of non Muslims and apostates like Lina Joy last.

Malaysia's highest court has agreed to decide whether the country's Islamic court has the exclusive right to deal with Muslims who renounce their faith, a lawyer said Friday. . . .

The Federal Court's announcement Thursday stems from the case of Lina Joy, who converted from Islam to Christianity in 1998. She applied to the National Registration Department to change her Muslim name, Azlina Jailani, on her government identity card the same year.

The NRD changed her name but refused to delete ''Islam'' from the card's religion entry, saying it needed permission from a Shariah court, which handles Islamic issues.

''This case should be viewed in the larger context of Islamization and the erosion of constitutional rights,'' said Joy's lawyer, Benjamin Dawson.

Muslims, who make up 60 percent of Malaysia's 26 million people, are governed by the Shariah courts on all civil and family matters.

Chinese and Indian minorities are under civil court jurisdiction. But there are no clear jurisdiction guidelines in overlapping cases like Joy's.

A similar dilemma arose last year, when a Hindu soldier converted to Islam without telling his family. When he died, Islamic authorities claimed his body for burial, mandated under Islam. A court rejected his widow's plea that she get the body for cremation, required under Hinduism.

Dawson said Malaysia's constitution does not say a person needs Shariah court approval to convert out of Islam.

If the Shariah court had that right, it would never allow a Muslim to convert because it does not ''believe that anyone can change from Islam,'' he said.

Joy, 42, faces imprisonment due to the legal limbo her case is in, Dawson said.

''What happens if she steps into a church, for example? Or (gets) caught eating during the (Islamic) fasting month?'' he said. Shariah bars Muslims from both.

''She wants to get married to a non-Muslim, but cannot because the civil registry only marries non-Muslims, which she officially isn't right now,'' he said. . . .

The Federal Court and lower courts have dealt with several similar cases in the past, ruling in favor of Shariah court.

Malaysia has known civil strife before and it may see it again. It is unlikely that the 40% of its non Muslim population will accept living under the harsh Sharia law for long. Malaysia cares about its image. At the moment, her leadership may fear Islamist wrath enough to try to appease it. Bad international publicity should help them resist this dangerous trend.

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