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Thanks to Maznah, a statement is made

Posted: 31 Jul 2013 02:33 PM PDT

FMT LETTER: From Stephen Ng, via e-mail

This is Malaysian politics. To be more precise, this is Umno Baru politics. It is all mixed up – a bit of religion, race and even sex – depending on what's expedient for the day. A big "hoo-hah", and after a while, it all dies down. Compared to someone like Tok Guru Nik Aziz, to some extent, it shows the shallowness of Islam as practised by some of our politicians who turn a molehill into a mountain.

Not even the Deputy Prime Minister is spared. The moment a video clip of an unknown person bringing a few pet dogs into the mosque, Muhyiddin Yassin had immediately jumped the gun by hitting out at non-Muslims.

I quote: "This shows that there is no deep understanding within society. Muslims do not insult the religion of non-Muslims such as Christianity and Hinduism. But non-Muslims are insulting our religion."

In a way, this is also seditious, as it creates further tension between the Muslims and the non-Muslims. Thankfully, in Malaysia, the Muslims are generally more tolerant, compared to the examples set by people the likes of Ibrahim Ali, Zulkifli Noordin and even Muhyiddin himself. Fair enough that he should ask for stern action to be taken against the culprits for tarnishing the image and sanctity of Islam.

However, Muhyiddin should realise that he is a Deputy Prime Minister of the country. He is not speaking as the deputy president of Umno Baru. He is correct to point out that there is basically shallowness in the way how people practice their religion.

I felt touched when I first learnt from a fellow Chinese gentleman about the humility of this man, Tok Guru Nik Aziz. When he wanted to travel to Kuala Lumpur for his party meeting, he asked to get a ride from two lawyers who were on their way back to Kuala Lumpur. His reason for not using his official vehicle: "This is a party meeting. The official vehicle is for official use only."

Later, when reaching the toll gate, Nik Aziz asked the two lawyers. "Which way are you going? You can drop me here, if you are going in another direction." When the lawyers expressed their concern for his safety, Nik Aziz said, "Allah will look after me. Surely someone going in my direction will recognise me and give me a lift!"

Such is the humility of Nik Aziz. I have not heard him make any derogatory remarks against Christianity or Hinduism, but probably Muhyiddin is right if he had referred to Nik Aziz or he has been sleeping on his job as Deputy Prime Minister when one after another incident unfolded.

History has recorded many of these 'ugly' incidents where Muslims have insulted the Christians and Hindus – and I need not repeat myself here – that religious and racial sentiments have been played up countless times by Umno Baru leaders, raising the ire of the larger Malaysian population.

I thank Maznah Mohd Yusof for making a statement through her video clip. I believe all Malaysians should stand up for her courage to speak up against the bureaucracy of religion. For that, she was arrested yesterday and now risks being labeled as anti-Islam.

I quote her once again: "I love my religion. I think these people should learn about their religion first, and not misinterpret my video." How can someone like Maznah insult her own religion when she is a practicing Muslim? Between her and someone like Ibrahim Ali, I would say that Maznah is more likely to be a genuine Muslim girl than the Perkasa president.

She has not even uttered a derogatory word against her religion, in the way that Zulkifli Noordin and Ibrahim Ali had done to both the Hindu and Christian community.

If it had been the slightest tinge of insult, as in the case of the non-Muslim blogger couple, Maznah would have been arrested for insulting Islam. The whole roof would collapse, when NGOs linked to Umno like Jati and Perkasa take it to the streets.

It's time for Umno politicians to realise that the nation is getting agitated with their behaviour. They have not only staged out sex scenes and used them against Anwar Ibrahim, or attempt to discredit him using sodomy, but they have become religiously phobic about everything.

Over a small issue like the invitation to Buka Puasa with 'bah kut teh' – considering that there are so many versions of the favourite Chinese cuisine – our leaders and media have hyped up the entire thing, calling that an insult to Islam. This is despite the fact that the couple having apologised if they had offended any party.

Umno Baru leaders should realise that in modern day, Malaysians do not play up to their games anymore. The more that they create an issue out of a molehill, the more agitated people become with their style of leadership.

Pushing to the extreme just for illustration sake, if things are allowed to carry on the way it is, before long you cannot even print the word, "Al Quran" in the newspapers. The reason is because people use newspapers for all sorts of activities around the house.


Why my friend Chetz made that video

Posted: 31 Jul 2013 02:30 PM PDT

FMT LETTER: From Aneesa Alphonsus, via e-mail

Chetz Togom or Maznah Mohd Yusof is my best friend. Today, she's being harassed, hounded and harangued for a video she made three years ago on how she spent that particular Hari Raya with her dogs. I was there when the video was shot and since TV stations are not taking the trouble to find out why she made that video, I'm going to tell them and all the others who are screaming for Chetz's blood why she made that video.

It was late morning when she took her dogs for a walk. When she came home, Chetz cleaned herself, then she washed the dogs' paws as she planned on bringing them into the house for some treats. When I asked her why she did it this way, she said, "No special reason, I just want people to know that having dogs isn't a dirty thing. We clean them and we clean ourselves well."

That was it. It has nothing to do with all the fuss about "ambik air sembahyang dengan anjing" (taking abolution with the dogs) that some irresponsible media quarters are harping on as are some bloggers who don't know head or tail, pun not intended, about the situation.

Then there is the question of the takbir Raya. Chetz put it in the video because it reminds her of her late grandmother who raised her, plus the fact that it is significant to Hari Raya. What is the harm in that? How does this show disrespect to Islam?

I want to add that she has also been given a very hard time by certain individuals who berated her for being a Muslim who rescues and works with dogs. When she shares videos about noted Islamic teachers and scholars speaking about dogs being permissible in Islam, the retorts, among others, include. " Why must you help dogs? Why can't you help people?"

So now, Chetz has to help who they think she should? Anyone who knows Chetz will attest to how much respect she has for her faith and religion. She has battled inwardly with several of her choices in regards to helping dogs, and has been troubled numerous times because of this.

It takes courage to do this. It takes courage to go through something like this – to follow what your heart and conscience tells you, to the chagrin of people who react so unfairly to something they don't care to find out more about.

Chetz is a good person and she has never, not once, said anything against her faith and religion. To think that a harmless video made over three years ago is being dredged up now, makes one wonder why? Why now?

And is the video so offensive that it warrants death threats? Who gives anyone the right to say, "I'm going to find a gun a shoot this person who made the video"? Is it really that severe?

Watch the video again and see for yourself if there is any intent to offend Islam. It saddens and disappoints me that with so many issues that should be brought to the fore, some quarters are choosing to make something out of nothing. This is what the mob mentality is about.

To journalists, news editors, bloggers, Facebook and other social media users, I ask of you, please use discernment and see if something really warrants such a harsh response.

What if it were you, or someone you loved, or someone who know who is being persecuted wrongly? Wouldn't you wish they were given the proverbial fair trial before judgment? What happened to the being given the benefit of the doubt, or does this not apply when it comes to religion.


Religious sensitivities – respect begets respect

Posted: 31 Jul 2013 02:18 PM PDT

In my school days, school canteens used to sell both halal and non-halal food in stalls side-by-side. No Muslim children ever bought from the non-halal stall, but non-Muslims did buy food like nasi-lemak from the Muslim stall. Then they sat at the same table to eat. There was no question of hurting the sensitivities of anyone.

FMT LETTER: From Ravinder Singh, via e-mail

So-called "religious sensitivity" is a thing of the mind. It is not something external like the heat from a fire that one can feel, but purely a state of mind. It is what one chooses to make of something. A thing done or said by someone to another of a different race or religion is seen one way by a broadminded person and another way by a narrow minded person. It is seen one way by a wise person and the opposite way by a fool. A rational person interprets it differently from an irrational person. In interpreting one should take into account the manner, tone, context, occasion, etc. in which it is said.

It is akin to a normal person seeing a rope for what it is, and a psychiatric patient seeing the same rope as a dangerous snake and trying to kill it before it attacks him. Remember, the mind is not only capable of playing games under different conditions and circumstances, it can also be conditioned into such a state by external hypnotic pressure. Such pressure can even make a normal person who is unable to resist such pressure, see the rope as a snake.

People's minds can be manipulated by those who have power over them by the constant harping on something. Teachers, including BTN teachers, therefore have the great power of making or breaking a nation by what they teach their charges. Politicians, as leaders, also have such power. Knowing this, our former medical doctor Prime Minister had chosen the way of running his administration on the premise that telling a lie and repeating it would finally have the people believe it is the truth. But repeating lies is like blowing and blowing into a balloon. Some day it will burst.

One question of "religious sensitivity" is that of eating and drinking by non-Muslims in the month of Ramadan. It is now being bandied about that for non-Muslims to eat or drink when in the company or presence of Muslims is to hurt the sensitivities of the Muslims. This was never an issue in the good old days. Muslim scholars have said that Islam does not forbid non-Muslims eating in the presence or company of Muslims in the month of Ramadan. So who started this nonsense and why?

In my school days, school canteens used to sell both halal and non-halal food in stalls side-by-side. No Muslim children ever bought from the non-halal stall, but non-Muslims did buy food like nasi-lemak from the Muslim stall. Then they sat at the same table to eat. There was no question of hurting the sensitivities of anyone. The Indians did not say that by eating beef next to them the Malays children were being insensitive to their religious beliefs (it is pantang for Indians to eat beef). Similarly the Malay children did not complain that the Chinese students, by eating pork dishes next to them, were not being sensitive to Islam as pork is haram to the Muslims.

So how and why did the question of non-Muslims being insensitive to Muslims by eating in their presence or company become an issue?

Last week, I was at the BNM Penang branch for a discussion on a banking matter. Two officers attended to me, a Malay lady and a Chinese lady. As we sat down, the Malay lady put a plastic glass of mineral water before me and said "this is for you". I felt so touched by this gesture and respect shown to me as a non-fasting person who would need to quench my dry throat. Did she, as someone who was fasting, do something wrong by giving me the water?

Yesterday I was at another meeting in KL at an office manned by a dozen staff. It ended at 2pm and a non-Malay staff and myself went for lunch nearby. The staff said she was so hungry as she had not taken any drink or snack the whole morning as she was afraid of doing so in the office (it has a coffee corner) during puasa month as it would be insensitive to the Muslim staff. I was taken aback to hear this. How the words and actions happening around us today have put the fear of offending Muslims if one were to eat in their presence.

Why should it be insensitive to my Muslim friends if I have to eat or drink in their presence? As a non-fasting person, my mealtimes are morning, afternoon and evening. When mealtimes come, I feel the pangs of hunger. A fasting Muslim, as told to me by fasting Muslim friends, does not feel the pangs of hunger during the daytime. This is because the body has received the normal amount of food, with the difference that meal-times are changed from daylight hours to night-time hours. Within two or three days of the start of fasting, the body adapts to the new schedule of mealtimes.

So could Muslim scholars please put this issue in its proper perspective. Do I have to hide myself from my Muslim friends when I am eating during fasting hours in the fasting month? Why should they feel I am being insensitive to them if I eat in their presence?


In the Dog House for being kind

Posted: 31 Jul 2013 01:39 PM PDT 

I am a Malaysian Muslim and I am NOT INSULTED by Maznah's actions. I am however insulted by extremist routinely ploughing my sensibilities with their "sensitivities". 

Shenaaz Khan, President of Malaysian Animal Welfare Society 

The arrest of dog trainer Maznah Mohd Yusuf is appalling and reflects the flimsy fabric of the Malaysian Muslim faith. The contention that the act of walking a dog past a mosque and washing its paws are akin to burning the Quran is ludicrous and displays a dreadful disposition towards dogs.

The chorus of outrage led by seven NGO's i.e. Pertubuhan Martabat Jalinan Muhibbah Malaysia (MJMM), Selangor State NGO Secretariat, Malay Army Veterans Association (PVTM), Badan Amal Tarbiah Sejagat Malaysia (BATAS), Pak Long Nusantara, Cahaya Haluan Amanah Insan Malaysia and Ikatan Rakyat Insan Muslim Malaysia (IRIMM) exhibits the abysmal ignorance of Muslim "champions" in this country. This clan have clearly vacated their minds of knowledge and dogged it with doctrine. Hitherto the video, these sinless soldiers have remained silent on almost all other un-Islamic practises. They appear to not be "insulted" by some Muslim men collecting wives as if they were stamps, leaving many women and children in a state of destitution. They are certainly not "insulted" by how corporations and hotels have turned the humble act of fasting into a feasting fiesta of gluttony!  And rape and incest by their brethren is mere kitchen matter, unworthy of their divine intervention. Yet, this harmless video has compelled them to don their guerrilla garbs and Ray bans and start their pilgrimage up the pavement of righteousness!  

Believing themselves to be vastly superior to others, these virtuous vigilantes had the audacity to state that Maznah had "committed a grievous insult towards all Muslims in Malaysia". Well dear feckless NGO's, I am a Malaysian Muslim and I am NOT INSULTED by Maznah's actions. I am however insulted by extremist routinely ploughing my sensibilities with their "sensitivities". And I am repulsed further by how quickly the authorities went wildly out of control to persecute Maznah, yet remain apathetic to brutal animal abuses.

And why have the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry and the Department of Veterinary Services, the self proclaimed animal welfare crusaders, remained silent on this ridiculous fiasco? While they use the new Animal Welfare Bill as a tool to publicise their efforts in combating animal cruelty, have they made it known that this new law does not preclude animals unacceptable to a faith? Should they not applaud Maznah's treatment of animals and encourage others to do the same?

Malaysia's legacy for animal cruelty is set to outlast the sun. Animal abusers, wildlife traffickers and repugnant zoo operators and pet breeders still evade justice and continue to roam our streets but a kind, animal-loving person like Maznah is hauled up, finger-printed, mug-shotted and chucked in jail to pander to religious zealots! Using Section 298A of the Penal Code for causing disharmony on the grounds of religion clearly reflect the inability of the authorities to make a distinction between Islamic principles and Muslim prejudices. And while there appears to be a crime wave in this country, animal lovers are being assailed by the authorities for promoting unity, tolerance and animal welfare! This madness must cease. Maznah should be commended not condemned. She has committed no crime and therefore must be released.



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