Muslim supremacy supersedes Batek woes

Muslim supremacy supersedes Batek woes

It was the hope of many Malaysians that they have kicked out Malaysia’s virulent religious majoritarianism last general election. A year later, it seems that religious issues are making it to the forefront again, as the first of the big democracies flirting with authoritarianism.

Some politicians dare to say that its obsession with Muslim rights is far more important although it impacts economic growth, job opportunities, and largely ethnic, religious, and racial tolerance.

Recently, the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) head warned religious preachers not to take advantage of vulnerable Orang Asli communities and trick them into religious conversions of any sort.

In a recent news report, Prof Dr Juli Edo pointed out that everyone has a right to their beliefs, and this must be respected.

He stressed that any intention to convert must also come from one’s own volition.

“Rightfully, it should not happen. It cannot happen because we have the Constitution. We have laws.

“It shouldn’t be that way. You cannot force them to convert and then you cannot trick them or take advantage of their situation,” he said.

Juli was commenting on the Kelantan Islamic Religious and Malay Customs Council’s (Maik) ambitious plan to convert all the Orang Asli within its state borders to Islam by 2049.

Even dead bodies are not spared from the conversion rules hurting the sentiments of Orang Asal. Maik claimed that all the 15 dead were Muslims but it did not come forward to prove its claim.

There was no documented proof shown even though every convert to Islam would have a conversion certificate and subsequently a card that documents one’s original name and Muslim name.

The vulnerable situation of Orang Asal needs to be addressed. Their lands were grabbed by logging companies, some with the green light from the state governments since the state governments failed to classify the forest land as Orang Asli land reserve. Kelantan is just one example.

The Kelantan state government even claims ignorance over mining activities on Orang Asli land. Their livelihood is taken away as their attempts to cultivate vegetation is a failure due to logging and mining activities.

It is also heart-wrenching to see this group of native community not being able to uphold their own tradition and belief.

The current climate of religious extremism in Malaysia are further emboldened by Facebook champions such as convert preacher Zamri Vinoth, Perlis Mufti Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin and their followers. Despite being the most progressive of the lot, Asri has gone to the extent of disparaging a foreign land called India in the past.

It is also ironic to see that while Malaysia finally saw an Orang Asli lawmaker through the Cameron Highland by-election, Ramli Mohd Nor remained silent on the deaths of the Batek tribe members in Kelantan.

His inaction only serves to prove that the conversions serve to dismember the ties of an Orang Asli to the forest as noted by renowned Orang Asli activist, Tijah Yok Chopil.

The once harmonious Malaysia is now threatened daily by religious agendas and sentiments. True Muslims keep their faith wrapped in peace and understanding meanwhile the fragile condemn the beliefs of others and force their faith unto others.

Nobody cares about non-Muslim sentiments in the country anymore. The message is loud and clear in the way the current government conducted itself in two particular issues pertaining to the International Convention for the Eradication of Racial Discrimination and Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.

Rising incidences among Orang Asal of tactful conversions to Islam have raised fresh fears for minorities. We do not want something extra-constitutional in demanding protection and honor for the indigenous community, adding that the actual Islamic teaching does not approve of compulsion and forced conversion to the faith.

It is the responsibility of the government, state, and the law makers to make stringent laws to discourage the rising trend of forced conversion and for the betterment of the Orang Asli community.

This community is vital in ensuring the sustainability of the forest and ecosystem. Send other communities to a forest and the place would turn into a Felda scheme.

By: Bonta Bruce

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of The Leaders Online.


Tags assigned to this article:
batek woesmuslim supremacysupersedes