Middle East Violence: Mr. Obama, Don’t Bark at the Wrong Tree, it is not Islam


October 31, 2014

Middle East Violence: Mr. Obama, Don’t Bark at the Wrong Tree, it is not Islam

by BA Hamzah

Islam is not at risk in the Middle East. At risk are theDr BA Hamzah repressive Arab regimes under the protection of the external powers. The threat to the stability of the political regimes will come from those who have been deprived of their human rights and dignity.

The women who are not allowed to drive and those who cannot find jobs in their own countries are likely to rebel for freedom and political gains. Those who cannot be accommodated by the regimes are likely to join the ranks of alternative military and political movements like ISIL or the Muslim Brotherhood.–BA Hamzah

Terrorism has been associated with different faiths at different historical times.There is no empirical evidence to suggest that violence is embedded, ingrained or inherent in any religion, certainly not in the case of Islam.

Karen Armstrong Latest BookKaren Armstrong reminds readers in her recent book (Fields of Blood: Religion and the History of Violence, Bodley Head, 2014) that it is incorrect to blame religion as the cause of world’s many bloody conflicts.

Karen Armstrong makes a persuasive argument that is likely to enrage many neo-cons: the root cause of the “carnage” in the Muslim world (by extension the current political crisis in the Middle East) is “politics” rather than faith.

Many analysts have long pointed to the disputed colonial-drawn boundaries in the Middle East as a major political-cum-security problem. Abu Bakar Al-Bagdadi has reportedly promised his flock he would demolish the Skyes-Picot Treaty of 1916, which partitioned the Arab land into imperial enclaves. He wants to redraw the political map of the Middle East, to undo, the wrongs of the Imperial powers, presumably to restore Arabs’ dignity. Bagdadis’ promise borders retribution by Arab nationalists and not about Islam.

The Arab land is likely to implode further with Israel’s decision last week to expand its illegal settlements on Palestine land. By now, the world has come to realise that the Arab-Israeli conflict is not about religion but about territory, suppression, human right violations and the denial of a homeland for Palestine.

The fault-lines over the territorial conflict in the Middle East are blurred but hardlyObama's Mid East Policy religious in nature. It is true that the current conflict involves some radicals who call themselves Muslims but it is NOT over Islam per se. Do not confuse Islam with the angry actions of some extremists. There is a fine distinction between Islam as faith and its use as an operating ideology by extremists.

The Islam world comprises some 1.6 billion adherents, only a small number hate peace. Unfortunately, the Western media has stigmatised and stereotyped the entire Muslim community for the actions of the few hard-core extremists.

Violence often accompanies conflicts. For example, the Thirty Years War in Europe (1618-1648). Contrary to popular belief, the cause of the Thirty Years War was not religion per se; it was due to sectarian violence, nationalism and the fight for territory as well as the continuation of rivalry for political pre-eminence between the Habsburg of Bohemia and the French Bourbon aristocracies.

The Thirty Years War also saw the involvement of external major powers, (Sweden, Spain, France and Austria) waging wars on the German soil. As history reminds us, the fall-out from this quagmire led to the Peace of Westphalia (1648), a series of peace treaties between the warring factions that gave Europe its current political boundaries and the concept of State in international relations.

The US-led coalition forces and their local Arab partners in the Middle East are obama-clueless-on-middle-east-foreign-policydefending the present political boundaries that Mark Sykes and Francois Georges-Picot drew in 1916 and their geo-political interests there. The political divisions of the Arab world resulted from politics and big powers rivalries. Islam played no role in the political division of the Middle East.

This rivalry between big powers for the control of the Middle East is being re-enacted with ISIL as the cannon fodder. The current contest for power has to do primarily with access to strategic resources and control of the strategic waterways. At the local level, the conflict is about sectarianism, Arab nationalism and the quest for territories, identity and a revolt against suppressive regimes as well as a desire to rewrite the political history of the Middle East.

Social-cultural and economic considerations are equally important in understanding the current conflict in the Middle East. Arab nationalists masquerading as radical Muslims are also rebelling against external powers propping- up unpopular regimes. The Arab  revolutionary reawakening is about politics along a historical fault-line.

Abu Bakar Al-BagdadiThe story of ISIL is also a story of proxy wars between regional powers. On one side, we have Iran jockeying for greater eminence beyond Iraq and Syria. The Saudis are teaming up with the Qataris with help from the United Arab Emirates and Egypt to expand influence in Syria and Libya. Turkey is bidding for more time before jumping into the political quagmire.

According to authority, the five Arab states in the US-led coalition against ISIL need the US as a cover their “increasingly repressive policies.” This is not about Islam. On the contrary, it is about regime preservation. The governing elites fear for their lives after what they saw in the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring.

The involvement of the US, UK, France, Australia and Canada in the Middle East proxy wars is likely to embolden their internal home- grown dissidents. Read Amnesty International “Report Choice and Prejudice: Discriminations against Muslims in Europe (2012)” for a glimpse of racial profiling and discriminations against Muslims.) The solution to their citizens taking up arms in the Middle East is to provide them jobs at home and eliminate the religious stereotyping and stigma.

The current spate of the regional proxy wars commenced with the failed US policy in Iraq, followed by Sunnis frustration with a pro- Shia Al-Maliki regime. Lighting the bonfires of counter movements in the current political turmoil, apart from the US invasion of Iraq (2003), were the 2011 internal uprisings among Arabs (dubbed as the Arab Spring).

The Arab Spring has exposed the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of many Arab political regimes. The collapse of Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt at the hands of their own citizens (of course, with help from some Western powers) was unprecedented in the post 1945 Arab world.

Syria, Yemen, Bahrain and Iraq are on the danger list. The richer Gulf States and Saudi Arabia are also feeling the heat from the unresolved Syrian conflict. Their military intervention in the Syrian conflict will have long-term strategic impact including expediting their downfall.

The small Potentates suffer from massive internal problems like unemployment, corruption and human right abuses. Those who can no longer suppress the rising expectations of their people are turning to America for help.

The political regimes in Lebanon and Jordan may not last very long without outside help as they find it difficult to cope up with refugees inside their borders. The threat from ISIL/ISIS posed on their sovereignty and territorial integrity must be their regimes nightmare.

Repressive Arab regimes are at risk not Islam

Saudi prince announces defection from royal familySaudi Arabia’s Elite

Islam is not at risk in the Middle East. At risk are the repressive Arab regimes under the protection of the external powers. The threat to the stability of the political regimes will come from those who have been deprived of their human rights and dignity. The women who are not allowed to drive and those who cannot find jobs in their own countries are likely to rebel for freedom and political gains. Those who cannot be accommodated by the regimes are likely to join the ranks of alternative military and political movements like ISIL or the Muslim Brotherhood.

There are other political permutations, too. A strong Kurdistan with backing from Western States may rattle Turkey and Iraq. The thought of the Kurdish-Peshmerga forces controlling Kobane, a town on Turkey’s border, will not bode well for Istanbul that has been fighting the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) forces for the last thirty years.

With Turkey drawn in the conflict, the scenario will change the strategic calculations and political landscape on the ground. Iran and its allies (e.g., the Hezbollah in Lebanon) are not likely to remain quiet. So does Russia, which has a naval facility at Tartus, Syria.

Finally, bombing the ISIL is not the solution; it was proven during the strategic bombardment of Dresden, Germany during WW 11. The idea that the US could roll back the ISIL/ISIS with air strikes is just simply preposterous. On the contrary, the airstrikes will further radicalise the fence- sitters whose families and property were destroyed.

Also Read: http://www.iranreview.org/content/Documents/Obama_and_the_Middle_East_Two_Speeches_Three_Challenges.htm

Ibrahim Ali and The A-G’s Chambers: A Matter of Double Standards


October 30, 2014

Ibrahim Ali and The A-G’s Chambers: A Matter of Double Standards

by Tay Tian Yan@www.themalaysianinsider.com

Gani PatailThe Attorney-General’s Chambers has finally broken its silence and offered reasons for not charging Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali.

It said Ibrahim’s threat to burn the Bible did not fall within the definition of seditious tendency as it was meant to defend the sanctity of Islam, adding that we have to look at the case in its totality and not separate it from the context in which it was made.

Totality and context? So, a person threatening to burn the Bible just because someone else had distributed the Bible outside the school can now be spared action.Will such logic work?

Last September, US Pastor Terry Jones and his assistant soaked 2,998 copies of the Quran in a petrol tank, each representing a victim of the September 11 attacks, and prepared to bring them to a park for burning.He was stopped and held by the Police as he made his way to the park.

Jones argued that he was not anti-Muslim. He only wanted to defend the US Constitution and pay homage to the victims of the September 11 attacks.If the American prosecutor were behaving like our A-G, knowing the mysteries of “totality” and “context”, then it was likely that a verdict like this would be passed down: Jones must not be charged, for in totality it was the terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center first, creating the context for a threat against the sanctity of the Christian faith, and that given such “totality” and “context”, Jones was provoked into burning the Quran.

So, Jones should escape the sanctions of the American laws because he was forced to protect his own religion and the US Constitution while showing respect for the September 11 victims?

In a similar manner, R.S.N. Rayer who cursed UMNO at the Penang State Assembly sitting and who was later charged for making seditious remarks, should most definitely be spared as well because he had been provoked by the UMNO reps and given such a context, he was actually defending his own sanctify by saying “celaka”.

Rayer should most positively be allowed to cite the “totality” and “context” factors when defending for himself in the court in future because these two things are never patented to the A-G. Anyone can apply them!

The same should also apply to a dozen other individuals charged under the Sedition Act, for they were all defending their own sanctity under specific “totality” and “context” circumstances.

Not charging Ibrahim Ali is totally unacceptable, and the excuses cited are anythingIbrahim Ali but convincing. Instead of prosecuting Ibrahim Ali, the A-G’s Chambers has offered such ridiculous logic to justify its inaction, putting itself in the middle of a credit crisis.

If such logic can be applied to condone irrational acts, our world is indeed too dangerous a place to live in, for the Islamic State militants could claim that they waged jihad under the oppression of the Shiites, and their intimidation to the West was meant to guard the sanctity of Islam.

Consequently, the West must halt all the air strikes, the Syrian and Iraqi regimes must surrender their power, non-Muslims must be converted, while the entire world must submit itself to Isis authority.

There is no other alternative for the A-G Chambers but to see the truth and act in accordance with the nation’s laws. Stop all the imbecile excuses right away. – mysinchew.com, October 30, 2014.

Malaysia as seen from Washington DC


October 29, 2014

Malaysia as seen from Washington DC

By Kean Wong, Special to the Malaysian Insider

 The White HouseThe White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had just outlined the robust prospects for Malaysia’s economy and was busy posing for photos with Malaysia’s new Ambassador to the United States Datuk Awang Adek and various Manhattan dignitaries on stage when a few visiting Malaysians and an American businessman familiar with what he called the “heyday of Mahathir’s Malaysia” opened up around the coffee stand about the challenges that needed trouncing today if the weather was to clear up in the weeks and months ahead.

Like President Obama – who considers PM Najib a close Asian confidante, andNajib and Obama according to Washington insiders, a “most reliable friend” amid an anxious region – the Prime Minister has sought comfort in foreign policy wins over the often thankless and truculent realities of domestic politics.

So the ringing global endorsement of Malaysia as a new UN Security Council member next year that handily coincides with its much-awaited chairmanship of ASEAN (after Cambodia’s recent vexed leadership) is justly deserved and celebrated, avers a veteran former Asian diplomat now at the United Nations in New York.

Razali IsmailThanks to Malaysia’s “inspired and markets-friendly” global leadership during the Mahathir years, and fondly remembered diplomats like Tan Sri Razali Ismail, Malaysia still glows on the world stage.

The country represents a “necessary and useful” example and plays an international role as a globalised, Muslim-led country at a time of fraught Western relations with the Muslim world, notes a senior American diplomat echoing a common view at Washington-based think-tanks like the Council on Foreign Relations and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

In the current campaign against Isis and its unravelling of Iraq and Syria, where the Obama administration has been desperately keen on stitching together a better “coalition of the willing” (Muslim) nations to combat such extremism, the Najib government is a stalwart ally.

Despite American concerns raised over the alleged use of the Sedition Act to crackdown on Malaysian dissent and an expectation that this week’s Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim trial will turn out poorly for the opposition leader, there is a prevailing Washington agenda about terrorism, China’s rise and related trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – not necessarily in that order – that should not be derailed.

John KerrryAs a senior US State Department official explained in a briefing ahead of Secretary John Kerry’s series of bilateral meetings in Jakarta following President Joko Widodo’s inauguration, “at the top of the list (is) the international effort to degrade and ultimately destroy (Isis)… we hope that the individual countries can do more and cooperate more to ensure that, in the first instance, Southeast Asia remains immune to the proselytizing efforts of Isis; and secondly, that these countries assist effectively beyond what they’ve done already to rebut the false ideology.”

“Of course, Malaysia, Brunei, and Singapore are also members of the TPP negotiations. That’s a topic that is likely to be touched on (in bilateral talks),” Kerry said. “Malaysia, I would flag for you, has just won a seat on the UN Security Council circa 2015 and will take over from Burma in 2015 as the next chair of ASEAN. So there’s a lot of good work to be done in the meeting with Prime Minister Najib.”

Yet it was the mixed results so far of Najib’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) and worries over the Prime Mminister’s political future that coloured the backdrop of conversations accompanying a slew of Malaysian leaders over the past month of American visits.

For one traveling Malaysian businessman, speculating about life after a Najib Prime Ministership was apparently commonplace among his peers. He was concerned that the “many good ideas and sincerity” of the Prime Minister’s team in pushing Malaysia forward could be jeopardised by the various UMNO-linked pressure groups like PERKASA and ISMA, which “did not understand” how the globalised Malaysian economy worked.

Perhaps surprisingly, his American businessman friend was more adept at working out the realpolitik, contrasting Washington’s acute polarisation of politics and culture by going through Malaysia’s possible list of successors, and echoing what some in UMNO Youth have argued is the ascendancy of leaders like Khairy Jamaluddin to break political deadlocks (and stasis).

But as another visitor remarked, where does that leave the present incumbent? With looming defeat expected at next month’s polls for the Democrats – where losing control of the US Senate means souring prospects for Obama’s domestic agenda and legacy – perhaps navigating past lame-duck leaders will be the corporate world’s biggest challenge on both sides of the globe.

Yet the bilateral relationship between Malaysia and the US has “never been better”, Malaysian Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, pictured in 2010greased along by a “strong” personal bond forged between the Prime Minister and President Barack Obama, explained a diplomat travelling with Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to Washington last month.

As a measure of the depth of bilateral ties, and in time for the current campaign against Isil and related security threats, Zahid was feted across Washington in long meetings with key Obama administration officials such as Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, CIA Director John Brennan (where Zahid spent three hours at the Langley HQ), and Attorney-General Eric Holder.

Zahid later explained at a Malaysian Embassy dinner that our “strong ties, trust” will also help propel along the likelihood of Malaysians being granted coveted visa waivers to the US, in another sign of the strengthening “people to people” links that are a key feature of bilateral ties.

In an embassy reception marking both Hari Merdeka and Armed Forces Day, Zahid as a former Defence Minister also listed in his speech the various ongoing Pentagon-funded programmes and regional exercises where Malaysia plays a key part, that was as much a legacy of Malaysia’s anti-communist Cold War role as today’s delicate exigencies over the South China Sea.

The Minister waved away concerns over domestic politics by referring to the “national interest”; moreover, as a senior officer working for the Pentagon’s Joint Chiefs staff saw it, Malaysia’s domestic uncertainties paled by comparison to the jostling ASEAN faces in the South China Sea with China and there was “much to look forward to with Malaysia’s ASEAN chairmanship”.

J YunAt a discussion a few nights later at nearby American University, the visiting US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Yun (left) also echoed the Home Minister’s celebration of our American relationship, and explained that Malaysia was on track to join the US visa waiver programme as our “5% visa refusal rate” trends down towards a 3% criterion.

While the US envoy was perhaps more circumspect than usual in deference to the Malaysian Ambassador in the audience, Yun did note American concerns over the “social, political challenges” that included vexed differences over religious issues and the ‘politicised’ TPP negotiations.

The audience chuckled along when both envoys agreed the Malaysian government faced such dilemmas in a polarised atmosphere “just like Washington”, blaming much of it on “hard to control” social media and the Internet.

Yet as the former US Ambassador to Malaysia, John Malott, points out, strongambassador-john-malott bilateral ties notwithstanding, Malaysia has been a skilled diplomatic player in an increasingly anxious region, which knows its interests may be between that of the US, China and Asean over immediate issues like the South China Sea – and the need to recalibrate responses to China as it asserts its economic weight and ambitions.

“I find it amazing the US puts so much store in the TPP with Malaysia when there are other economic and trade interests that are just are important to American companies, when American companies don’t get a fair shake because of the problems of corruption, a lack of transparency in such areas as ‘no bid contracts’,” Malott said.

Perhaps a more attractive future Malaysia shimmered into view a week later when the increasingly popular Yuna took the stage at George Washington University’s Lisner auditorium downtown. As the gaggle of so-called “hijabsters” danced, clapped and swayed in the aisles, Yuna charmed the rest of us with her mix of polished pop tunes and modest tales between songs about her experiences as a Malaysian taking on the Los Angeles music world.

In the crowd queueing for photographs and autographs afterwards, the Malaysians who turned out in force for their homegirl merged seamlessly with the wider America on display. The future seemed within grasp for now.

-

 

Anwar Ibrahim at University of Malaya (October 27, 2014)


October 28, 2014

Anwar Ibrahim at University of Malaya

Anwar at UM

Anwar Ibrahim spoke with passion to students at the University of Malaya last night (October 27, 2014). He asked his audience, why is the government in power is so scared of a simple human being like him that they won’t allow him to speak in the campus of his alma mater. Where is academic freedom, where is academic excellence and where is our dignity as a people? He spoke of racism and disunity, corruption and abuse of power. Listen to him.–Din Merican

Gutsy Students storm the Entrance Gate to greet University of Malaya Alumnus Anwar Ibrahim


October 27, 2014

Well Done, UM Student Leaders and The Student Body.

University of Malaya I wish to add to what what Sadiq said. The University of Malaya Vice-Chancellor has let the whole Alumni Body down displaying what I call intellectual cowardice by trying to prevent UM students from attending Anwar Ibrahim’s Cry for Freedom Speech tonight.

I am glad the students of the University of Malaya and public spirited Kuala Lumpurians braved the rain and defied the ban to listen to one of Malaysia’s charismatic politicians say his fond farewell to the University that had taught him to stand up for freedom, justice and democracy, the consequences be damned. We will soon know whether he will return to jail, or be a free man to pursue his dream of a united Malaysia. We must remain hopeful that justice, not politics will prevail on October 29, 2014.

To the brave student leaders and the general student body of my alma mater who defied the Vice Chancellor’s orders I say I am proud of you. You have showed me that you share the same ideals which drove students of my generation of the ’60s and ’70s to streets to protest injustice and arrogance of power.However, we then were more fortunate than you because we had Vice Chancellors who were beholden to none, least of all politicians, in their defence of academic freedom and campus sovereignty.

Tonight, my young brothers and sisters you have come of age. You haveKamsiah and Din shown us that you are not a bunch of kindergarten kids. You are mature and civic minded Malaysians who have self respect, decency and dignity to stand up for our right to freedom of speech and expression. My wife, Dr. Kamsiah Haider, who is also an alumnus of this University, and I salute you.–Din Merican (MU Class of 1963)

WHAT I THINK

by Jahabar Sadiq@www.themalaysianinsider.com

Published: 27 October, 2014

Citing power issues to send home staff and students, Universiti Malaya has just confirmed that authorities will do anything to keep Malaysians in the dark, quite literally. Also, UM is treating its undergraduates like kindergarten kids, who must only follow the official line, and not hear, discuss or debate anything that is not kosher by Putrajaya’s standards.

Is it any wonder that Malaysian varsities fail to make it to the top in international lists? Is it any wonder local graduates cannot speak or think? Malaysia needs universities where people can learn and think freely, even responsibly. Shutting their mind is darkening their future, like the locked-down, dim Universiti Malaya campus tonight.

Gutsy Students storm the Entrance Gate to greet University of Malaya Alumnus Anwar Ibrahim

By Anne Muhammad& Adrian Wong@www.malaysiakini.com

anwar_ibrahim2Fighting for Freedom to the End

More than a thousand students and activists stormed Universiti Malaya’s Kuala Lumpur gate to attend a talk by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim there. The students broke the gate, which was locked and chained by the university security personnel, while chanting “Buka, Buka” (Open, Open).

They then started marching to Dewan Tunku Canselor, where the talk that has been barred by UM is scheduled to be held. The students marched alongside Anwar, who arrived at 9.40pm on a four-wheel drive vehicle with his family.

UM Student Affairs Department had at 6pm today sent an email to students barring them from the talk titled ‘Anwar Ibrahim: 40 Years from UM to Prison‘ organised by the Student Council.

 

UM Student at the Entrance GateIt is like Storming the Bastille All over Again

Security had locked the gates and blocked entrance to the campus to all non-Universiti Malaya staff and students. As a result, students on campus are barred from joining the crowd outside. Spotted among the crowd is UM law lecturer Azmi Sharom, who said he is there as an observer.

The Malaysian Insider:

In one single swipe tonight, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim hit out at Putrajaya for having arrogant and corrupt leaders and ticked off the University Malaya administration for being too weak in standing up for academic freedom.

Want to Touch a Dog? In Malaysia, It’s a Delicate Subject


October 27, 2014

Want to Touch a Dog? In Malaysia, It’s a Delicate Subject

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/27/world/asia/dog-petting-event-underlines-malaysias-culture-wars.html

by Thomas Fuller@www.nytimes.com

Dog Event

When he organized a get-together for dog lovers and their canine-averse neighbors, Syed Azmi Alhabshi thought he was doing a public service.

But after hundreds of people showed up to the event, billed as “I Want to Touch a Dog” on Facebook, and when pictures started circulating on the Internet of Muslim women in head scarves happily hugging dogs, Mr. Syed Azmi became an unwitting protagonist in the latest chapter of Malaysia’s culture wars.

In the week since the event, Mr. Syed Azmi, a pharmacist, has received more than 3,000 messages on his phone, many of them hateful and a dozen of them threatening physical harm. The police advised him to stay at home.

Malaysia’s Muslim leaders, who cite Islamic scriptures stating that dogs are unclean, lashed out at him in the news media. “I feel the anger, and it is real,” he said in an interview.

Over the past two weeks, Muslim leaders in Malaysia have denounced Halloween as a “planned attack” on Islam and Oktoberfest parties as a public vice “the same as mass-promoted adultery.”

The culture wars have waxed and waned in multicultural Malaysia in recent years as conservative Muslim groups have pushed back against what they describe as libidinous and ungodly Western influences in a country that has rapidly modernized and become more cosmopolitan.

The dispute over touching dogs has underlined the fault lines in what has increasingly become a country polarized between members of the Malay majority, who are overwhelmingly Muslim, and ethnic Chinese, Indians and other minorities, who are typically Christian, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist.

The dog controversy joins the decades-old disputes over the availability of pork, the imbibing of alcohol and the pressure on Muslim women to wear conservative clothing.

Although many Muslims in other countries do not view touching dogs as forbidden, conservative Islamic groups here say the Shafie school of Islamic jurisprudence that they follow views dogs as unclean and requires the faithful to undergo a ritualistic wash if they come into contact with canines.

The Malaysian authorities described the “I Want to Touch a Dog” event as an offense to Islam. Othman Mustapha, the Director-General of the Federal Islamic Development Department, which has the official mission of protecting the “purity of faith,” said the event was a challenge to the authority of religious leaders.

The religious authorities in Malaysia have the power to crack down on practices they view as going against Islam, but Muslim law is selectively enforced and highly politicized. Many Malaysian Muslims own dogs, drink alcohol in public and have very westernized lifestyles.

Criticism of the dog event has led to a backlash by a small but vocal group of moderate Muslims in the country who view the strictures of the religious authorities as oppressive.

“All we are getting these days is how to hate an ever-growing list of people and things,” Marina Mahathir, the daughter of a former Prime Minister and a leading liberal voice, wrote in a newspaper column published last week. “How much energy are we to spend on hate? And how does hating anything and everything make us happy and better Muslims?”

Mr. Syed Azmi, the pharmacist, said he thought he had his bases covered. Before thesyed_azmi_alhabshi_organiser_dogs_191014 event, he contacted and received acknowledgment from the state religious authorities.

He also invited an Islamic scholar who showed Muslims how to conduct the ritual washing after they had touched the dogs. “I expected it to be in the news, but not to the point where people would get so angry,” said Mr. Syed Azmi, who is Muslim.