17 July 2013

Retribution is quick if you're sex bloggers

COMMENT In a flash, the authorities cracked their whips when a non-Muslim couple, infamous for their exhibitionist sexual trysts, posted a photograph of themselves dining on pork ( bak kut teh ) soup.

Next to the photograph was a caption that linked the consumption of the forbidden meat to Muslims breaking their fast in the holy month of Ramadan.

The move courted an uproar and numerous quarters clamoured for the heads of Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee to roll for being so blatantly and brazenly insensitive to Muslims.

The couple later apologised but this fell on deaf ears.

One minister warned that insulting Islam on the social media is becoming rampant and this must be curbed while another declared that repentance will not absolve the offenders of their callous deed.

The authorities are now considering charging the lovebirds under the Sedition Act.

The indignation is understandable. The posting was downright ridiculous and offensive. There is no excuse to belittle a faith and the couple should have been aware of the repercussions when trampling on what is sacrosanct to others.

However, there appears to be two diametrically opposed approaches to such matters in Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's 1Malaysia.

The same authorities, politicians and religious leaders did not even squeak when Perkasa vice-president Zulkifli Noordin ( right ) degraded the Hindu religion or when university lecturer Ridhuan Tee Abdullah derided the Thaipusam festival.

This begs the question whether Muslims have the right to be offended while others should just accept the blatant disparagement of their respective faiths as a fact of life in Malaysia.

Zulkifli, in a video recording of his sermon posted on YouTube, had ridiculed the Hindu belief that the Ganges River in India is sacred.

He also mocked Hindu deities for failing to prevent a flood from ravaging a shop that sold statues of these deities.

Ridhuan ( right ), on the other hand, saw red over the attempts by certain organisations to lift the temporary ban imposed on a Tamil film, which critics claimed equated Islam with terrorism.

In his argument that appeared in a Malay-language daily, the associate professor, who ironically teaches ethnic relations, penned derogatory remarks about the Thaipusam festival in Batu Caves.

He also complained about the proliferation of Hindu temples and shrines since the 2008 general election.

In both cases, there were calls to take stern action against Zulkifli and Ridhuan, including charging them under the Sedition Act. However, these voices went unheeded.

For Hindus, an apology is sufficient?

And what about Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali's incendiary remark to torch Malay bibles which contain the word 'Allah'?

Mahathir, who is the patron of Perkasa, later defended Ibrahim, stating that it is common to burn banned publications.

Once again, there were the familiar calls for Ibrahim to be dragged to court, including from outraged Christian leaders and clergymen, but the firebrand continues to roam free to commit verbal ethnocide.

And as if to rub salt into the wound, Najib, who fathered the 1Malaysia slogan, named Zulkfli as the BN candidate for the Shah Alam parliament seat in the last general election.

To make matters worse, Zulkifli is the vice-president of Perkasa, the right-wing movement with an unenviable track record of stoking racial and religious flames.

Defending his candidature, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had described Zulkifli as a man with calibre.

Muhyiddin ( left in photo ) also reminded the people that Zulkifli had since admitted his mistake and apologised for insulting the Hindu faith.

So in the case of slighted Hindus, an apology is sufficient.

There is no justification for Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee's action as freedom of expression cannot be used as a shield to rattle religious and racial ties.

But the same rule must also be extended to those Muslims who insult the faiths and beliefs of others. In short, 1Malaysia needs one approach on issues concerning religious rows. There should be no double standard.

Failing which, it would prove that 1Malaysia is the most hollow, superfluous, deceptive, insidious and deceitful slogan ever coined to hoodwink a nation.


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