We are at war, says French Intellectual, Dominique Moisi

November 22, 2015

We are at war, says French Intellectual, Dominique Moisi

by Dominique Moisi, a professor at L’Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po), is Senior Adviser at the French Institute for International Affairs (IFRI) and a visiting professor at King’s College London. He is the author of The Geopolitics of Emotion: How Cultures of Fear, Humiliation, and Hope are Reshaping the World.

PARIS – Ever since the terrorist attacks in January on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a kosher supermarket, Parisians knew that barbarism lurked around the corner, and that it would strike again. But it is one thing to know something, to anticipate it, and another to be confronted with the grim reality. On Friday night, reality struck us with a vengeance. We are at war. It would be wrong – even dangerous – not to admit it. And to win will require clarity, unity, and firmness.

Clarity of analysis is what we now need the most. We barely know our enemy, except for the intensity of his hatred and the depth of his cruelty. To understand his strategy, we must recognize him for what he is: an intelligent – and, in his own way, rational – adversary. For too long, we have despised and underestimated him. It is urgent that we now change course.

In the last few weeks, the Islamic State’s strategy of terror has brought death to the streets of Ankara, Beirut, and Paris, and to the skies over Sinai. The identity of the victims leaves no doubt about the message. “Kurds, Russians, Lebanese Shia, French: You attack us, so we will kill you.”


The timing of the attacks is as revealing as the targets’ nationality. The more the Islamic State is defeated on the ground and loses control of territory in Syria and Iraq, the more it is tempted to externalize the war to deter further intervention. The synchronized attacks in Paris, for example, coincided with the Islamic State’s loss of the Iraqi city of Sinjar.

Of course, the terrorist cell that struck Paris was not created in the wake of the Islamic State’s recent battlefield losses. It was already in place, waiting to be activated (as others may be). That demonstrates the Islamic State’s tactical flexibility, not to mention the availability of people willing to commit suicide.

If the Islamic State chose this time, in Paris, to target people who are not satirists, policemen, or Jews, it is precisely because their “ordinariness” left them unprotected. This time, the attackers chose “quantity” over “quality” (if one may be pardoned for such a crude formulation). The goal was to kill as many people as possible.

This strategy is possible because the territory controlled by the Islamic State provides a sanctuary and training ground. The self-proclaimed caliphate’s territories represent for the group what Taliban-controlled Afghanistan meant for Al Qaeda in the 1990s.

It is imperative to regain control of this territory. And destroying the Islamic State’s “provinces” in Libya, Sinai, and elsewhere must become the number one priority of the international community.

Beyond analytical clarity, there is a need for unity, beginning in France, where citizens would reject their political class were its members to continue to behave divisively at such an obvious historical turning point.

Unity must also be achieved within Europe. We are repeatedly told that Europe is in the midst of an identity crisis, in need of some new project. Well, now Europe has found one. To be European means to confront together the scourge of barbarism, to defend our values, our way of life, and our way of living together, despite our differences.

Unity is also required of the Western world as a whole. President Barack Obama’s statement after the Paris attacks demonstrates that what unites Europe and the United States is much more significant than what divides us. We are in the same boat, faced with the same enemy. And this sense of unity must go beyond the European and Western world, because the Islamic State threatens countries such as Iran and Russia, not to mention Turkey, as much – if not more – than it does the West.


Of course, we must be realists. Our alliance of circumstance with these countries will not overcome all problems between them and us. So, beyond clarity and unity, we need firmness, both in confronting the threat of ISIS and in defending our values, especially adherence to the Rule of Law.

The Islamic State expects from us a combination of cowardice and overreaction. Its ultimate ambition is to provoke a clash of civilizations between the West and the Muslim world. We must not fall prey to that strategy.

But clarity comes first. When Paris is attacked as it was last Friday, one must speak of war. No one wants to repeat the errors of the US under President George W. Bush; but to use those errors as an alibi to avoid confronting the world as it is would merely be an error of a different sort. Europe’s response must be tough, but it must not deviate from the Rule of Law. We are, after all, engaged in a political battle with the Islamic State, one in which our love of life must prevail over their love of death.

Read more at https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/paris-attacks-war-with-islamic-state-by-dominique-moisi-2015-11#mswPrXp7yaPl2DQt.99

ISIS Terrorism: Call Western and Muslim Leaders to account

November 22, 2015

ISIS Terrorism: Call Western and Muslim Leaders to account

And that includes the Saudi kings whose funding of Wahhabi doctrine gave rise to the scourge of Islamic extremism.

What happened in Paris on November 13 has happened before, in a shopping district of Beirut on November 12, in the skies over Egypt on October 31, at a cultural center in Turkey on July 20, a beach resort in Tunisia on June 26—and nearly every day in Syria for the last four years.

Blair and Bush

GW Bush and his British Poodle

The scenario is by now familiar to all of us. News of the killings will appear on television and radio. There will be cries of horror and sorrow, a few hashtags on Twitter, perhaps even a change of avatars on Facebook. Our leaders will make staunch promises to bring the terrorists to justice, while also claiming greater power of surveillance over their citizens. And then life will resume exactly as before.

Except for the victims’ families. For them, time will split into a Before and After. We owe these families, of every race, creed, and nationality, more than sorrow, more than anger. We owe them justice.

We must call to account ISIS, a nihilistic cult of death that sees the world in black and white, with no shades of gray in between.We must call to account Bashar al-Assad, whose response to peaceful protesters in the spring of 2011 was to send water cannons and military tanks to meet them.

We must call to account the governments of the United States, France, Britain, Russia, Iran, and many others, who lent support and succor to tyrant after tyrant in the Middle East and North Africa, and whose interventions appear to create 10 terrorists for every one they kill.

Bush and Gang

The Destroyers of Iraq

We must call to account George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, whose disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent disbanding of the Iraqi army destabilized the entire region.

Wahhabi ideas have spread throughout the region not because they have any merit—but because they are well funded. We must call to account the Saudi kings—Salman, Abdullah, and Fahd—whose funding of Wahhabi doctrine gave rise to the scourge of Islamic extremism.

When I was a child in Morocco, no clerics told me what to do, what to read or not read, what to believe, what to wear. And if they did, I was free not to listen. Faith was more than its conspicuous manifestations. But things began to change in the 1980s. It was the height of the Cold War and Arab tyrants saw an opportunity: They could hold on to power indefinitely by repressing the dissidents in their midst—most of them secular leftists—and by encouraging the religious right wing, with tacit or overt approval from the United States and other Western allies. Into the void created by the decimation of the Arab world’s secular left, the Wahhabis stepped in, with almost unlimited financial resources. Wahhabi ideas spread throughout the region not because they have any merit—they don’t—but because they were and remain well funded.

Obama and Saudi King

Barack Obama and Saudi King

We cannot defeat ISIS without defeating the Wahhabi theology that birthed it. And to do so would require spending as much effort and money in defending liberal ideas. The government of Saudi Arabia has beheaded more people this year than ISIS.

I am a novelist. Every year, I spend a great deal of my time giving readings or lectures at which, almost unfailingly, I am asked about Islam and Muslims and the wars now consuming the Middle East. I try to explain and contextualize, remind people about history and politics, bring in some culture and art into the mix. But every few months, when another terrorist attack happens, the work I do seems to be for nothing. What chance does someone like me have when compared with the power of well-funded networks?

The beheadings, the crucifixions, the destruction of cultural heritage that ISIS practices—none of these are new. They all happened, and continue to happen, in Saudi Arabia too.

Harussani and Najib

Prime Minister Najib and The Mullah of Perak

The government of Saudi Arabia has beheaded more people this year than ISIS. It persecutes Shias and atheists. It has slowly destroyed sites of cultural and religious significance around Mecca and Medina. To almost universal indifference, it has been bombing Yemen for seven months. Yet whenever terror strikes, it escapes notice and evades responsibility. In this, it is aided and abetted by Western governments, who buy oil from tyrants and sell them weapons, while paying lip service to human rights.

Malaysia 2050

A Victim of Saudi-Funded Wahhabism

Muslims are the primary victims of ISIS—and its primary resisters.I have no patience anymore for people who claim that Muslims do not speak out. They do, every day. Muslims are the primary victims of ISIS, and its primary resisters. It is an insult to every one of the hundreds of thousands of Muslim victims of terrorism to lump them with the lunatics who commit terror. The truth is that ISIS unleashes its nihilistic violence on anyone—Muslim, Christian or Jew; believer or unbeliever—who doesn’t subscribe to their cult.

I wish I could do something for the victims of terrorist violence. But I am a writer; words are all I have. And all I know is that I want, with all my heart, to preserve and celebrate what ISIS wishes to destroy: a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-cultural life.


Malaysia 2050–In Orwellian Style–A Halal Prophecy

November 15, 2015

Malaysia 2050–In Orwellian Style–A Halal Prophecy

by Ooi Kok Hin*

*Ooi Kok Hin is a research analyst in Penang Institute. He graduated from The Ohio State University with a degree in Political Science and Philosophy, and is also the author of the book, “Aku Kafir, Kau Siapa” , published by DuBook Press.

Malaysia 2050

The year is 2050. Exactly 30 years ago on this day, a grand council was held to discuss the next big goal for the nation after the expiration date of Vision 2020. It was proposed by one clever minister that the country must strive to be a “halal nation” by 2050. And here we are, Halal 2050.

It all began when an inconsiderate “kafir” customer brought her dog to a supermarket. Pictures of the dog allegedly peeing on the trolley went viral, some people were outraged, and caused the ministry to contemplate the idea of passing a law to make separate trolleys for halal and non-halal items. They have set forth the ship in that direction, and the wind will carry it much, much further.

The “separate trolley” idea was originally intended to separate the halal and non-halal items. For the first few years, it was acceptable for a non-Muslim customer to use the halal trolley, as long as he does not put pork or alcohol in there.

After years passed and the inevitable lapse of memory, certain righteous folks expressed their long-hidden suspicion, “How can we trust the infidels not to put anything ‘haram’ in those trolleys? Even if they do not, they must have touched pork and alcohol back in their home and maybe, they do not wash their hands. By touching what they touch, we are also guilty of their sins!”

Just then, at such an opportune time, pictures of two non-Muslim customers pushing the halal trolleys into non-halal section went viral on social media.The pictures did not show them putting non-halal items into the halal trolley, but the very fact that the halal trolley is pushed into the non-halal section sufficed for guilty judgment.

Several days later, the government announced that only Muslims can use the halal trolleys (coloured in white) and non-Muslims can only use non-halal trolleys (coloured in black).

Young Imams

What was originally a separation between halal and non-halal items has become a segregation between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Five years down the road, worries were expressed that not only we should separate the trolleys, but also the payment counters. The opinion was further reinforced by the views of several high-ranking clerics (never mind the views of the other professions in the society).

A few decades ago, the popular rhetoric was “I should not be labelled a racist because I defended my race”. Now, ambitious politicians and ulama will win the crowd just by uttering the words, “I am not afraid to be labelled an extremist because I am defending our religion”.

Thunderous applause from their audience, who don’t seem to notice that under the ostensibly pious statement, those people are praising themselves, much like those who publicise on Facebook, “I just got all As for my exam, with 99% score in all subjects. Am going to graduate with 4.0 CGPA.  Thanks to God!” The government conceded again. Separate counters then! That is how it began.

By 2030, whenever one walks into a supermarket, one can see the stark segregation in the checkout counter. People are queuing according to ethnicity! There is one line for Muslims, one line for the non-Muslims.

Of course it was done in the name of religion, but the ethnic consequence is unavoidable given the high correlation between ethnicity and religion in the country.

I was told sometime ago that Gandhi once said, “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for anyone’s greed.” Greed can never be satisfied. You keep wanting more and more. It was so, that the future everyone has predicted arrived in 2035.

The government announced that supermarkets will now be separated. Halal supermarkets for Muslims and non-halal supermarkets for non-Muslims. This must be done to avoid “confusion” and any possibility of the hands of non-Muslims tarnishing the “halal-ness” of the products in the supermarkets.

Wanita UMNO

Changes do not occur in a vacuum. From the supermarkets, the wave of segregation crashed into every neighbourhood, drowning all neutrality and innocence. Restaurants are segregated into Muslims and non-Muslims corners.

Once upon a time, a group of buddies could sit together in a mamak stall. It is no longer possible now due to the fears that a non-Muslim may have touched a dog or consumed alcohol before they come to the mamak, thus raising fears that they will contaminate the plates, utensils, tables, and even the chairs they are sitting on.

Wan Azizah4

The Ultimate Muslim Woman–Leader and Professional

“It cannot be helped. What is haram is haram,” said the government whose ears are reserved for the religious circles. “What is haram is haram. We cannot help it. Whatever is touched by the haram, it is no longer halal”.

There used to be a clear distinction between halal and non-halal. But the phrase “non-halal” is gradually replaced by a more sinister terminology, “haram”.Last time, whatever was given permit is halal, and that was it. Now, whatever is not given permit, is haram.

Not only certain items are haram, even peoples are objectified as haram, just like how the self-righteous look down on out-of-wedlock children.

If the 1960s is celebrated as the decade of the hippies, and 1980s as the wave of Islamisation, the years between 2020 and 2050 are the wave of Halal-nisation. Or to be more precise, the years between 2020 and 2035 is Halal-nisation and the years between 2035 and 2050 is Haram-nisation.

Segregated neighbourhoods. White toilets for believers, black toilets for non-believers.No handshake between persons of the Faith and the non-persons of the Faith. Two individuals of different faiths, especially if they are of separate genders, found together in a car can be sentenced to jail or 20 strokes of rotan.

Severe punishment is necessary to remind everyone to preserve “natural order” and “natural separation”. The social fabrics must not be challenged, otherwise there will be hell, they said. The Halal industry is a big business too, so any confusion or disturb to social order will ruin the economy, they said.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I don’t know who started this. Who allowed our country to end up like this? If enough voices speak out against this much earlier, could we have avoided this? Why are simple things made complicated? How far do we want to take this “halal and haram” logic down the road?

I haven’t had time to answer these questions before my alarm clock wakes me up. I don’t have time to think about that nightmare. I need to rush to work and I need to hope that nightmares don’t come true.

Najib Razak’s Apartheid based on Religion by Dr. Syed Farid Alatas

November 11, 2015

Najib Razak’s  Apartheid based on Religion

by Dr. Syed Farid Alatas


UMNO in Power

Apartheid is an Afrikaans word which literally means “apart-hood”.  It refers to a system of racial discrimination and segregation that was established in South Africa and derives its notoriety from that case.

As in many countries, racial segregation began in South Africa during the colonial period, first under the Dutch from the end of the seventeenth century and then under the British who took possession in 1795. But, it was only much later in 1948 that racial segregation became an official policy. White Afrikaner minority rule was established through legislation by the National Party which ruled South Africa from 1948 to 1994.

Under apartheid legislation the population was classified into four racial groups—white, coloured, Indian and black. Millions of non-white South Africans were forcefully removed from their homes and relocated to segregated neighbourhoods. There was no political representation for non-whites.

The apartheid system went so far as to deprive South African blacks of their citizenship. Instead, they were to become “citizens” of supposedly self-governing homelands called bantustans.

Non-whites became separate and unequal inhabitants of South Africa, with little rights and poor access to decent public services and facilities. Apartheid ended with the election of Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first black President in 1994.

Although the term apartheid is mainly associated with South Africa, comparisons have been made with Israel. Many scholars and writers have sought to compare Israel’s treatment of Palestinians with South Africa’s treatment of non-whites during the period of apartheid.

Those who apply the apartheid analogy to Israel say that the institution of controls such as military checkpoints, restrictive marriage laws, unequal access to land and other resources, and indeed the West Bank barrier itself, that West Bank Palestinians are subject to, is evidence of an apartheid-type state.

The American linguist, philosopher and political commentator Noam Chomsky said of the Occupied Territories that “what Israel is doing is much worse than apartheid… What is happening in the Occupied Territories is much worse [than in South Africa]. There is a crucial difference. The South African Nationalists needed the black population. That was their workforce… The Israeli relationship to the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories is totally different. They just do not want them. They want them out, or at least in prison.”

What is the danger of an apartheid-type system developing in Malaysia? Most historians and sociologists who have studied the pre-colonial Malay world agree that the racial divides that characterize Malaysia today were far less prior to the coming of the Europeans.

There was a great deal of assimilation to Malay culture and inter-marriage, from where we get the Baba or Straits Chinese and the Jawi Peranakan. But, colonial Malaya introduced racism that led to instances of apartheid. For example, the Selangor Club was a whites-only establishment. Locals, along with dogs and other pets, were not granted admission.

Such an environment enabled the British and other Europeans to keep up the illusion of racial purity and superiority, to forget that they were in the East, and to socialize with their own kind. Physical segregation was accompanied by racist views that the British had of the Malayans.

A.R. Wallace, the nineteenth century naturalist, said in his work, The Malay Archipelago, that “[t]he intellect of the Malay race seems rather deficient. They are incapable of anything beyond the simplest combination of ideas and have little taste or energy for the acquirement of knowledge.”

Perhaps the most well-known stereotype was that of the indolence of the Malays. The Malays were stereotyped as lazy and unwilling to perform hard work. The pioneering work of Syed Hussein Alatas, The Myth of the Lazy Native, argued that the characterization of the Malays and other natives such as the Javanese and Filipinos as lazy was part of the ideological justification of the Europeans to rule the colonies as well as import foreign labour.

The Chinese in Malaya were frequently referred to as “greedy Chinamen” who could be found anywhere there was an opportunity to make money. The European view of the Indians was extremely instrumental, looking upon them as a docile population that could be easily exploited as a source of cheap labour.

In the colonial system, racial segregation was not total. Neither was it absent. Indeed it was a system of mini-apartheid that was founded on racist attitudes towards the Malayans. Now we have to be wary that mini-apartheid is being brought back to Malaysia in a different guise, that of religion.

It comes from an excessive sense of impurity and fear of contamination that can only be a reflection of the social and political insecurity that some Malays are currently experiencing.

In such a context, there is a need to live in a way that exaggerates the Islamic identity so that the Malays can feel that not all is being lost. The emphasis on the tudung and other aspects of the dress code are examples of the bid to strengthen religious identity.

It is, of course, understandable that people would attempt to emphasize their Malayness or Muslimness if they felt themselves to be under threat economically or politically. What is horrifying, however, are attempts by the political leadership to capitalize on these fears by introducing apartheid-like measures.

What is unacceptable is to try to differentiate the inhabitants of Malaysia through legislation that would end up segregating people.

Recently it was announced that the Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry is considering a reckless proposal to legislate the segregation of trolleys for halal and non-halal food items in shopping malls. This is ostensibly to alleviate the fears of Muslims regarding the contamination of the food they purchased by non-halal items.

It was suggested that non-halal products could use red trollies while halal products would use trollies of another colour. Well, let us say that the trollies for halal items were green. This would amount to Muslims using green trollies and non-Muslims using red trollies throughout the supermarkets of Malaysia. As if Malaysians were not divided enough, do we have to deal with yet another identity marker, that of trolley pusher?

Making it compulsory for supermarkets to practise such segregation, or even allowing them to do so, sets a very dangerous precedent and puts Malaysia on the slippery slope towards an apartheid-like state. Will the segregation stop with the trollies?

After some time, it may be suggested by some that Muslims feel offended or uncomfortable to see “pork-infested” items being sold in the same supermarkets that they patronize. They may object to seeing alcohol being sold in front of their eyes. They may demand that there be separate supermarkets for Muslims.

This demand may also be extended to kedai runcit and convenience stores. I can also imagine that in future some people may object to non-Muslims eating in halal restaurants. What is to guarantee that these non-Muslims may not inadvertently bring traces of porcine substances into the halal restaurants?

Therefore, it would seem sensible to call for segregated halal restaurants in which Muslims and non-Muslims dined in separate areas and used utensils that were washed and stored separately. There would even be calls to make it compulsory to have separate restaurants for Muslims and non-Muslims. The call for segregation would escalate to encompass more and more areas of life in order that the Muslim consumer would not worry about contamination.

Malay politicians and religious leaders have to take a decision. They can choose to play to the gallery of narrow-mindedness and racism and take advantage of the obsessions of certain unschooled Muslims. They can choose to capitalize on the ignorance of certain sections of the Muslim population of Malaysia. Or, they can take the lead by educating these Muslims on how to live a decent Islamic life, that is, one with a multiculturalist sensibility, that is not ridden with doubts and insecurities.

The last chapter of the Qur’an, entitled Nas or Humankind, asks humans to seek refuge with God from the mischief of Satan, the whisperer of evil (al-waswas) into the hearts or men and women. In this way, Satan attempts to destroy belief by planting psychological anxiety in Muslims, affecting the purity of their faith and way of life.

The duty of the Muslim is to fight this insecurity and live harmoniously with all. Such a spirit of Islam was exemplified by Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib, the cousin and son-in-law of the Holy Prophet and Caliph of Islam, when he advised his governor, Malik al-Ashtar, to have mercy, kindness and affection for his subjects for they are “either your brother in religion or one like you in creation.”

* Dr Syed Farid Alatas is an Assoc Prof at NUS.


Get Rid of JAKIM

November 9, 2015

Get Rid of JAKIM

by Anisah Shukry


G25Tawfik Ismail

There was a time in the country’s history when the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) did not exist, Putrajaya did not tell Malaysians how to practise their faith, and no one batted an eye when Muslims owned dogs.

And the former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman’s eldest son, Tawfik Ismail, wants those days back.

The main step is to dissolve Jakim, Tawfik said during an interview in conjunction with the release of “Drifting into Politics”, a collection of his late father’s writings during the nation’s formative years, edited by Tawfik and academic Ooi Kee Beng.

Jakim was created during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s time and seems to serve no other purpose than to intervene in the personal lives of Malaysians, Tawfik told The Malaysian Insider when met at his house in Taman Tun Dr Ismail.

“I think Jakim should be abolished. I don’t think Jakim should exist. What is the government afraid of? You have 13 muftis with 13 different fatwas and 13 different ways of approaching it (religion).

“What is the purpose of Jakim? Halal certificates? That can go to the health ministries, trade ministry. What else does Jakim do? Print the Quran? We have a communications minister,” said the softspoken, yet candid, 64-year-old former MP.

Naysayers may argue that Jakim is needed to “protect” the sanctity of Islam, but Tawfik was quick to point out that the Agong, sultans, imams (Muslim scholars) and muftis already filled that void.

“Jakim is an advisory body to the government, but constitutionally it really has no role. Islam is the province of the sultan of the state, it has nothing to do with the government.”

So which areas of Muslim life should the government intervene in? Tawfik flat-out said nothing at all.

“National integration in this country is the biggest challenge. How do you integrate the nation if you are going around this route of looking for faults among Muslims?” he asked.

Tawfik Ismail questions the need for the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), saying over the years the department has only been intruding into the private lives of Malaysian Muslims. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Kamal Ariffin, November 9, 2015.Tawfik Ismail questions the need for the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), saying over the years the department has only been intruding into the private lives of Malaysian Muslims. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Kamal Ariffin, November 9, 2015.But, Tawfik clarified that his views on dismantling Jakim were his own, and that G25, the group of retired Malay top civil servants of which he is a member, did not share them.

G25 does, however, want Jakim to justify its existence as well as the hundreds of millions of ringgit it receives from the federal budget each year, which he said could have been funnelled to the Health or Education Ministry instead.

“I think there’s a subversion of the constitution by religious authorities at the state level where they are actually testing the limits that they can go in intruding on a person’s personal life,” he added.

Putrajaya had not always acted as the defender of the people’s faith, revealed Tawfik, who served as MP from 1986 to 1990. He said that during the time of Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, only a small religious department existed in the Prime Minister’s Department.

There was no minister of religious affairs, and no national outcry over the fact that his father, Tun Dr Ismail, owned a dog.”My dad had a Boxer, and, before that, an Alstatian,” recalled Tawfik.

He said all this changed after Dr Mahathir took over and his then deputy, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, tried to infuse their definition of “Islamic values” into every aspect of Malaysian life.

This was done to counter the growing influence of PAS, which had never been an issue during the early years of Independence, said Tawfik.

As a result, Malaysia today is now facing “Arabisation”, with society eschewing its Nusantara roots in favour of appropriating the culture of the Middle East, he said.

“We seem to be delighting in coming up with creative ways of ‘speaking’ Arabic in this country.”Tawfik said it was for this reason that Drifting Into Politics may not sit very well with Putrajaya.

“Certain things my father says here are quite interesting.For example, he said whenever Tunku had a meeting at his house with a group of people… occasionally one or two of them would go into the kitchen and have a drink of brandy and whisky, then come back and join in. He admits this.Yes, it’s an open secret, but it’s never been in writing by a leader,” chuckled Tawfik.

His father died in 1973 at the age of 57, after just three years of serving as deputy prime minister. November 4 was his 100th birth anniversary.

With such records in existence, no matter how it tried to Islamise Malaysia, Tawfik said, the government would never be able to rewrite history nor erase its roots. – November 9, 2015.

Malaysia: The Oasis for Islamic State Jihadists and why

September 14, 2015

Sitting cross-legged outside Kuala Lumpur’s oldest mosque during afternoon prayers last week, Imam Mohd Faisal bin Tan Mutallib was resolute: Anyone considering joining the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria is “not a true follower of Islam.” But despite the best efforts of U.S. officials to combat extremism in Malaysia and partner with religious leaders like Mutallib, the gravitational pull of the Islamic State in this multiethnic country of 30 million remains stubbornly strong.

That is baffling to regional analysts and has muddied Malaysia’s reputation as an anchor of moderate Islam in Southeast Asia. Malaysian authorities have arrested more than 122 individuals since 2013 who either joined the Islamic State and returned home or were stopped while attempting to leave the country, according to government data given to Foreign Policy. That figure indicates an almost doubling of Islamic State-related arrests by Malaysian authorities between 2014 and 2015.

Authorities have also identified between 100 and 200 people currently inside Malaysia who support the Islamic State.

“The involvement of Malaysians in militant activities in the name of Islam has tarnished the country’s image and affected the purity of Islam,” Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak told Parliament last year.

Analysts said the rising number of extremist suspects is surprising for a country that has been hailed as a leading U.S. partner in the fight against terrorism. As recently as April, an estimated 60 to 150 Malaysians were identified as members of the Islamic State, or ISIS. Those numbers were similar to those of recruits from Indonesia — a country roughly eight times the size of Malaysia’s population, noted Joe Chinyong Liow, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The reasons for the rise are unclear, and analysts differ about the drivers of extremism within Malaysia. But observers have pointed to the politicization of Islam in the country’s government, combined with the simultaneous authoritarian tactics in policing dissent, as factors.

“Islam has unfortunately become heavily politicized in Malaysia,” Liow said. At least a fraction of radicalized Malaysian men have found a way into the Islamic State’s network through a combat unit known as Katibah Nusantara, led by an Indonesian named Bahrum Syah. (The group is also referred to as the Malay Archipelago Combat Unit or Katibah in Malaysia.)

Sidney Jones, a leading expert on Katibah’s activities and the director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict, said the original combat unit started out with about 100 men last year. Since then, Jones said, “indications are that it had grown considerably and was being deployed in different areas.”

Katibah is believed to be fighting Kurdish forces in Syria and has received training from Chechen instructors, said Jones, who said it’s likely the Islamic State has more than 200 supporters in Malaysia. “There are bound to be more than have been explicitly identified by the government,” she said.

Ali-Abd-JalilThis guy wants an Islamic Republic in Malaysia with Najib as the Caliph

Officially, Malaysia’s efforts to combat Islamic State recruitment are extensive, if not overly aggressive.

Last October, the government’s Department of Islamic Development, the overseer of Malaysia’s mosques and Islamic scholars, issued a fatwa against the Islamic State and sought to convince followers that militants who have died while fighting with the group were not martyrs. The government also has launched countering violent extremism programs that focus on the dynamics of youth and terrorism. In its annual country report on terrorism, the State Department in April praised Najib for founding the Global Movement of Moderates, a Kuala Lumpur-based organization that works against violent extremist ideologies and has more credibility than similar groups based in the West.

But many of these positive steps have coincided with troubling developments in Kuala Lumpur’s political system. Malaysia, which gained independence from Britain in 1957, is a Muslim-majority country that is home to a large minority of ethnic Chinese, who make up roughly 20 percent of the population. The constitution declares Islam the state religion while allowing freedom of religion for non-Muslims.

Many blame Kuala Lumpur’s ruling political party, UMNO, for poisoning the country’s political rhetoric as it depicts the country’s Muslim heritage as under threat by secular and non-Muslim forces. Worsening the rhetoric are other conservative Islamist parties that pull UMNO further to the right at the expense of the country’s non-Muslim minorities. “The net effect of this is that non-Muslim Malaysians are marginalized as Islamist parties try to ‘out-Islam’ each other,” said Liow.

Kulup Najib

A primary scapegoat of the rivaling Islamist parties is the country’s ethnic Chinese population, which has become more politically active amid new allegations of corruption against the government. In early July, a report in the Wall Street Journal found that nearly $700 million was transferred to Najib’s personal bank account in 2013 from unnamed donors. That sparked massive protests in late August made up mostly of the country’s ethnic Chinese and Indian communities, though Muslim Malays participated as well. During the demonstrations, posters circulated depicting a man holding a bloodied machete and slashing an opposition protester. It warned Chinese citizens who joined future protests to “be prepared for a blood bath.”

Hadi and Harun Din

But Malaysia’s heated political climate isn’t the only driver of extremism, according to experts. Amid the backdrop of Malaysia’s increasingly ethno-religious political rhetoric, the country’s security apparatus has taken a heavy-handed role in policing the practice and dogmatic principles of Islam, especially if it departs from mainstream Shafi’i tradition, a school of Sunni Islam. Shiism, for instance, is prohibited, as are more obscure sects.

Those suspected of ties to the Islamic State, a Sunni-dominated network, are subject to indefinite detention without trial under Malaysia’s Prevention of Terrorism Act, or POTA, a new set of anti-terrorism policies adopted by the government.

Terrorism experts in the United States credit Malaysia’s government as a leader in running programs to counter violent extremism. Those efforts included a workshop last January that promoted community-oriented policing as a means to counter violent expression and another one last November that incorporated government officials and community leaders to devise ways to counter violent extremism online.

Mutallib, the chief imam at Jamek mosque, participated in a State Department cultural exchange program this year that takes foreign community leaders on short-term visits to U.S. cities, such as Detroit, Michigan, and Portland, Oregon. His mosque teaches Islamic classes and plays a big role in Kuala Lumpur’s community, making him a valuable contact for U.S. officials.

But not all partnerships with the United States are viewed favorably. Inside the Malaysian government, some officials have charged that POTA was implemented at the persistent request of the U.S. government — an allegation the State Department denies.

Pushing back, State Department spokeswoman Anna Richey-Allen said the U.S. has itself raised concerns with the Malaysian government about the law’s ability to indefinitely detain suspects without trial. “We are closely monitoring implementation of the act and regularly raise our concerns regarding rule of law in Malaysia,” Richey-Allen told FP.

Whatever the impetus for the new anti-terrorism laws, critics say the medicine is worse than the disease.

“The relative authoritarianism that’s being practiced actually further drives a lot of this movement underground, which is harder for us to monitor and address,” Nurul Izzah, a prominent Malaysian opposition figure, told FP. “At the end of the day, you want people to feel like there is relative space for them to participate in a democratic nation rather than driving them further into feeling marginalized and desperate enough to become a part of ISIS.”



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