January 12, 2014
A Wahhabi-inspired Malaysia?
by Josh Hong@http://www.malaysiakini.com
Malaysia used to be known as a moderate Islamic country, but heaven knows how long this will last.
Looking at the way Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria goes berserk at civil society and non-Muslim communities, to the point of urging a fatwa that it is ‘halal’ to shed the blood of those who participate in anti-price hike rallies, it does send chills down my spine.
Not only that, another Christian premise has been raided by the Selangor religious agency while the PERKASA clowns are emboldened by UMNO’s inaction to openly wage war with Christian Malaysians who have, for centuries, been calling their god ‘Allah’. One can only sigh and think the country is on the brink of a serious religious face-off.
In the midst of all this is the conspicuous silence of the Pakatan Rakyat leaders who seem to believe speaking out against the verbal threats would only add fuel to the fire. No, you cannot make the situation worse by saying what is morally right, that is, to say politicians on both sides of the political divide must have the real courage to tell religious fanatics that it is against the teachings of any religion to establish hegemony over others, certainly not by sabre-rattling and chest-beating.
Not so long ago, UMNO began a crusade against the Shiites in Malaysia, ostensibly to ‘safeguard’ the integrity of the Sunnis, but those who are perceptive enough would know it was meant to discredit Mat Sabu, the Deputy President of the Islamic party who has been defending the rights of the religious minorities in this country.
I must say the choice of target – albeit despicable – has been a smart one, for the Muslim society in Malaysia generally adheres to Wahhabism, the version of Islam as prescribed by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the persecution of the Shiites in the Holy Land of Islam has been going on for decades.
Shias are restricted from government positions in the Kingdom, while some of Saudi’s religious leaders, such as Abdul Rahman al-Jibrin of the Higher Council of Ulama, have even sanctioned the killing of Shiites. Hence, if Shiism is depicted as a deviation while Saudi Arabia is upheld as the defender of the true faith of Sunni Islam, who in Malaysia would be bold enough to condemn the authorities for going after a weak minority?
And it is no secret also that Saudi Arabia has been vying for influence in the Middle East, with Shiite Iran as a potential rival.
Demonisation of Shiites continues
Just a few months ago, the world was bracing itself for a war to be launched by the United States against Syria, with Saudi Arabia as the biggest bankroller behind the scenes. But the ultimate target was not Damascus but Tehran, whose status the Saudis have been working strenuously and deviously to weaken to a pariah state.
Little wonder that Riyadh is livid over the Syria debacle, so much so that it has refused to accept a seat as one of the non-permanent members on the United Nations Security Council after years of campaign for one!
But there is no let-up in the drive to demonise the Shiites worldwide, nonetheless. The suppression of the Shiites has thus taken on an international dimension, although a vast majority of Muslim Malaysians would not have understood it as such thanks to UMNO brainwashing.
Of greater concern is the fact that the ruling family of Saudi Arabia has been using petro-dollar wealth, channelled through a vast network of charitable organisations to propagate its ideology.
If one real culprit must be found to be held responsible for the rise of religious extremism and terrorism, it has to be Saudi Arabia.
Together with other oil-rich Gulf states, Riyadh has been spreading Wahhabi beliefs and even training militants through madrassas in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Tajikistan, the Philippines and even Indonesia.
Paradoxically, the Saudis have been able to use its geopolitical importance and wealth to create an image of ‘moderation’, with Washington providing them with diplomatic, military and political covers. Is it not an astounding success that Saudi Arabia, where women are not allowed to drive and political opponents languish for years in jail, is still regarded as a ‘model’ Islamic state by many, especially Malaysia?
And Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak was no doubt too carried away to detect all the dangerous trends started by the Saudis as he was “pleasantly surprised” that roads were closed off for his visit to the kingdom recently.
As I wrote last week, the series of bombings in Volgograd were most likely aimed at undermining the upcoming Winter Olympics and weakening Russia’s international position following the latter’s successful mediations over the Syrian crisis, and now there is evidence that the terrorist attacks are linked to groups financed by Riyadh.
There would have been rounds of condemnations from around the world – including Malaysia – had a similar attack happened to the United States or other western countries. But because it is Russia (or China for that matter), the international response has been pathetic at best and hypocritical at worst.
In any case, the spate of religious incidents at the connivance of the Malaysian authorities has forced UMNO to take off the mask of moderation. Given the pervasive Saudi influence on Islam in Malaysia, I can only predict the situation to become more intolerable in the years ahead. Yes, you ain’t seen nothing yet and we may soon begin to miss a country that was once known as a melting pot of Asia.