6 February 2015

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We Muslims are not accustomed to speaking out while brandishing our faith like a banner.

But we understand some of the questions that are arising throughout the world, and it is in light of the latter that we are speaking up today.

The accusations brought against the “silent majority of Muslims may be unjust, but they are understandable. Once and for all, the barbarous murderers who justify their crimes in the name of Islam must realise that when they attack anyone, they are attacking us Muslims, our values, and the very essence of Islam.

On Wednesday, January 7, two assassins savagely murdered 10 people at the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo and two police officers on duty.

The following day, another assassin shot dead a policewoman, and on Friday, January 9, he executed four Jewish hostages at a kosher supermarket at the Porte de Vincennes.

Today, although the French can pride themselves on the surge of national unity and solidarity of January 11, they remain somewhat stunned and perplexed. The families and friends of the victims are inconsolable in the face of the violence of these acts motivated by this hideous, perverse travesty of our religion.

By attacking the press, the police and a religious community all at the same time, these murderers have hurt the whole of Islam.

Yes, we are Muslims, but we also claim the heritage of the Enlightenment and consider freedom of speech as an inalienable right. The copy editor Mustapha Ourrad and the police officer Ahmed Merabet paid for this commitment to those values with their lives, and it takes a very short memory indeed to forget that many other Muslims before them have died for the same values.

Those who want to divide humanity use uneducated shortcuts to associate Islam and barbarism and imply that there is an intrinsic violence in our religion, a natural solidarity between Muslims and terrorists.

Muslims are not cowards who have to resort to physical or verbal violence to defend their faith. To be sure, many of us are upset by the caricatures in Charlie Hebdo. Yet we stand united in affirming that in no way should their authors (or anyone else) be harmed as a result of their publication.

We must stand up as Muslims to publicly voice our attachment to secularism in politics. Let us never forget that on a global scale, Muslims themselves are the first victims of both the fundamentalists who claim to represent Islam and of secular dictators who claim they are the only resort to contain those fundamentalists.

The vast majority of Muslims reject violence. And when freedom and democracy suffer, they suffer, too.

The enemy is not our neighbour who goes to the synagogue, the church, or the temple. The danger is not our neighbour who chooses not to cover her hair with a scarf. The real peril lies elsewhere: it is in the withdrawal, the ignorance, and the stigmatisation of the other, it is in the prejudices that drive us apart when we should be joining together as humans.

If the first aim of terrorism is to frighten us, its second aim is to divide us into distinct, isolated communities. That is why we must all refuse fear and fundamentalism, respect our differences on the basis of our shared values and use them as a source of strength to bring out the underlying principles and values behind our unity.

There is undeniably a very real contemporary problem of manipulation of the Quran and of prophecies by certain self-proclaimed theologians, preachers and exegetes with a warped understanding of Islam.

Muslim religious leaders must be aware of their crucial responsibility. If they do not want Islam to be permanently hijacked, it is their duty to take a clear stand on reforming the interpretation of scriptural sources (Ijtihad).

This is particularly urgent since the last meaningful and structured (failed) attempt of that sort, the Muhammad Abdu project, took place more than a century ago. Whatever the nationality and religious creed, humans must be free to approach their citizenship and relation to religion as they see fit.

* Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is the Malaysian opposition leader. Felix Marquardt is founder of Khlass (Enough with) the Silence. Ghaleb Bencheikh is president of the World Council of Religions for Peace. Tareq Oubrou is imam and rector of the Great Mosque of Bordeaux.

From: www.thejakartaglobe.com, February 1, 2015.

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/islam-a-victim-of-global-terrorists-anwar-ibrahim-felix-marquardt-ghaleb-be#sthash.hrT9Gzwd.dpuf

6 February 2015

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By JOHN R MALOTT, former US ambassador to Malaysia.

Feb 10 is V-day – Verdict Day. That’s when we will learn whether Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim will be found guilty in a trial that governments and human rights organisations around the world unanimously have called politically motivated.

No legal basis for Anwar’s guilt

Judged solely on legal grounds, there is no doubt that the prosecution has failed to prove its case. In the Federal Court hearings which spread over two weeks, Anwar’s defence team, led brilliantly by a former judge, Gopal Sri Ram, made mincemeat of the government’s prosecutor, Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, who is better known as Umno’s lawyer.

Anyone who looks at the facts of the case would conclude this: If Anwar is found guilty, it will be for political, not legal, reasons.

Malaysia has changed forever

But if Anwar is found guilty, he can go to prison with his head held high. He can look back and think about all that he has been accomplished since he was first arrested by then premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad in 1998, and how Malaysia’s political situation has changed over the past 16 years.

Even as the Umno government pursued and persecuted him, Anwar never gave up. Neither did his supporters. And now the movement he began, and the challenge to Malaysia’s political order that he and his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail started in 1998, have become much larger than Anwar himself.

There is no going back. Malaysia has changed forever.

Anwar put country above self

Anwar had many opportunities over the past decade to travel overseas. But he always went back to Malaysia, despite the risk. If Anwar were selfish – if it were just about him – he could have stayed overseas and gone into exile.

Mahathir actually gave him that choice in 1998, yet Anwar turned him down and ended up spending six years in prison.

That is one reason why I respect him so much. Anwar always chose to go back. He chose his country Malaysia over any risk to himself.

I wonder how many other people would do that.

Umno a minority government

Anwar can think about the fact that in the last general elections, the opposition defeated – yes, defeated – Umno and its coalition partners in the popular vote.

Umno was saved only because of the inequitable distribution of electoral seats by the Electoral Commission, which as everyone knows is controlled by the Umno government.

Even with one hand tied behind its back, Anwar and the opposition won 53 percent of the vote in peninsular Malaysia. It defeated BN at the polls.

As for Umno’s own candidates, they took only 33 percent of the national vote.

Malaysia now has ‘two-party’ system

Anwar can think about the fact that in the past 16 years, a genuine opposition and ‘two-party’ system have emerged. The difference between Umno-BN and Pakatan Rakyat is now very clear.

One side, BN is dominated by Umno, which increasingly tries to survive by appealing to the basest and most racist instincts of its members. It survives by the use of Sedition Act, control of the media, and threatening to arrest anyone who dares to speak out.

Umno has castrated the other parties in the coalition, MCA and MIC, to the point where they are politically meaningless. There really is no BN anymore.

Umno – even though it was the recipient of only 33 percent of the national vote – now calls 100 percent of the shots. MCA and MIC have lost their supporters and are struggling for their own survival.

Chinese Malaysians have shifted

During the struggle in 1998, the Chinese Malaysian community stood on the sidelines. They considered it an internal Umno struggle among the Malays. They thought of Anwar as an “ultra Malay”.

But not today. The Chinese-Malaysian community has shifted their support to the opposition, to the point where Najib complained of a Chinese tsunami after the last elections.

No longer just about Anwar

Over the past 15 years, the movement that began with Anwar’s sacking, arrest, and imprisonment has grown into Pakatan. It is now a permanent fixture in Malaysia’s political landscape and a genuine alternative to BN.

Fifteen years ago, Keadilan basically was about Anwar and the injustice that had been done to him. But no longer. Today it is about democracy, freedom, human rights, and Malaysia’s future. It is about an end to corruption and cronyism. It is about Malaysia’s future.

So whether he goes to prison or not, Anwar already has won.

Link to original article: http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/288445

2 February 2015

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Saya ingin mengucapkan selamat menyambut Hari Thaipusam kepada masyarakat Hindu di Malaysia dan seluruh dunia.

Sebagaimana dihurai oleh para sarjana dan sejarawan, perayaan ini disambut pada hari bulan penuh dalam bulan kesepuluh atau ‘Thai’ dalam kalendar Tamil, bersempena peristiwa Dewa Murugan dikurniakan lembing ‘Vel’ oleh bondanya Dewi Parvati untuk memerangi dan menewaskan syaitan kejahatan yang dikenali sebagai Soorapadman.

Mengikut faham Hinduisme, upaya Dewa Murugan memerangi Soorapadman ini sebagaimana disebut di dalam teks Skanda Puranam, adalah satu perlambangan kebijaksanaan untuk menghapuskan kejahatan. Justeru Thaipusam diraikan sebagai tanda penghormatan masyarakat Hindu kepada Dewa Murugan melalui pembersihan jiwa dan memohon pengampunan atas dosa-dosa lampau.

Aspek yang ditekankan dalam perayaan ini adalah menentang kebatilan. Maka perayaan ini disambut dengan kesadaran menentang keangkuhan kuasa, rasuah dan penindasan melalui penghayatan jatidiri mereka. Dalam konteks Malaysia amnya, sewajarnya ini mendorong persefahaman tatkala kita meraikan jamak budaya dan kepelbagaian yang menjadi identiti Malaysia sekian lamanya.

Semoga perayaan ini memperkukuhkan tekad untuk membangun Malaysia sebagai sebuah negara yang adil serta terus megah berdiri sebagai sebuah negara yang meraikan kepelbagaian dan menghormati perbezaan. Selamat menyambut Hari Thaipusam buat seluruh masyarakat Hindu Malaysia.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

1 February 2015

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Program Ceramah dan Solat Hajat

1. Negeri Sembilan
Tarikh: 1 Feb 2015
Masa: 9 malam
Lokasi: PASTI AL-FALAH, Taman Desa, Rhu, Sikamat, Seremban
Penceramah: Mat Sabu, YB Tian Chua, DS Anwar, YB Xavier, YB Izzah dll.

2. Kedah
Tarikh: 2 Feb 2015
Masa: 9 malam
Lokasi: Padang Awam Taman Kucai, Lunas
Penceramah: YB Tian Chua, DS Anwar, Dato Saifuddin, Surendran, YB Dato Mahfuz Omar dll.

3. Terengganu
Tarikh: 3 Feb 2015
Masa: 9 malam
Lokasi: Perkarangan Pejabat KEADILAN, Taman Jakar, Chukai
Penceramah: YB Rafizi, YB Tian Chua, DS Anwar, YB Nik Nazmi dll.

4. Selangor (Solat Hajat, Tazkirah)
Tarikh: 4 Feb 2015
Masa: 7 malam
Lokasi: Masjid Abu Bakar Ali Bashah, Apt Kenanga, Taman Bunga Raya, Bukit Beruntung
Penceramah: YB Azmin, DS Anwar dll.

5. Perak
Tarikh: 4 Feb 2015
Masa: 9 malam
Lokasi: Dataran Berop, Tanjung Malim
Penceramah: YB Azmin, DS Anwar, YB Izzah, YB Shamsul Iskandar dll.

6. Pulau Pinang
Tarikh: 7 Feb 2015
Masa: 5 petang
Lokasi: Bayan Baru
Penceramah: YB Sim, DS Anwar dll.

7. Pulau Pinang (Solat hajat, Tazkirah)
Tarikh: 7 Feb 2015
Masa: 7 malam
Lokasi: Masjid Jamek Seberang Jaya
Penceramah: DS Anwar

8. Pulau Pinang
Tarikh: 7 Feb 2015
Masa: 9 malam
Lokasi: Tapak Pasar Awam Sama Gagah, Permatang Pauh
Penceramah: YB Wan Azizah, YB Azmin, YB Rafizi, DS Anwar dll.

9. Johor
Tarikh: 8 Feb 2015
Masa: 8 malam
Lokasi: Bilik Gerakan Utama Pakatan Rakyat Muar, Pt Tarom, Jalan Temenggong Ahmad
Penceramah: YB Tian Chua, YB Izzah, YB Rafizi, DS Anwar dll.

10. Melaka
Tarikh: 8 Feb 2015
Masa: 9 malam
Lokasi: Perkarangan Pejabat MPN Melaka, Jalan BPM1, Taman Bukit Piatu Mutiara, Bukit Piatu, Melaka
Penceramah: YB Tian Chua, YB Izzah, YB Rafizi, DS Anwar dll.

Sila hubungi Sdr Saifullah 013 300 5461 untuk sebarang pertanyaan.

PEJABAT DATO’ SERI ANWAR

1 February 2015

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Inaugural address by Anwar Ibrahim, MP and Chair, World Forum for Muslim Democrats at the Opening of the Biennial International Conference on Islam on 1st February 2015, in Ampang, Selangor.

Introduction

We gather here today in circumstances of turmoil and political unrest in the Muslim world as yet unprecedented in our modern history.

Whether it is in the Middle East, the Indian sub-Continent, or in Europe, hardly a week goes by without some negative breaking news of innocent people being kidnapped, beheaded, shot at or blown up by perpetrators who are ostensibly Muslims. Not since 9/11 have the repercussions of these vile attacks been so far-reaching and pervasive.

When the Twin Towers were attacked in 2001, I wrote an op-ed piece for Time magazine a week later but being still in prison, it took another two weeks for me to get it out. I had prefaced it with the Qur’anic reminder in surah al-Maidah ayah 8: “Let not your hatred of others cause you to act unjustly against them.” I then said:

“Never in Islam’s history have the actions of so few of its followers caused the religion and its community of believers to be such an abomination in the eyes of others. Millions of Muslims who fled to North America and Europe to escape poverty and persecution at home have become the objects of hatred and are now profiled as potential terrorists. The nascent democratic movements in Muslim countries will regress for a few decades as ruling autocrats use their participation in the global war against terrorism to terrorize their critics and dissenters.”

Today, religious groups in the name of jihad are trying to outdo each other in their demonstration of faith – who can kill more, be more violent and be as uncompromising as possible? Who are the champions in striking fear among those who do not subscribe to their beliefs?

In this perverse race for supremacy in brutality, ISIS has been at the forefront, issuing ultimatums for ransom to be paid for the release of foreign captives and beheading them with clock-work precision when the ransom is not paid. To add to the depravity, they also carry out mass summary executions by firing squad and shamelessly broadcast these atrocities to the world.

For fear of losing out to ISIS and other terror groups in notoriety as bloodthirsty and ruthless killers, the Taliban on December 16 last year struck their as yet ‘most cruellest cut’ in depraved violence by attacking a school in Pakistan and massacring 140 children.

Just two days before that, Boko Haram insurgents kidnapped at least 185 women and children, and slaughtered 32 people in a raid in Nigeria where, incidentally, twelve of its thirty-six states have introduced hudud punishments. The gunmen attacked a village, destroying half of it, shooting down men before herding women and children together.

But even all this seems to pale before the atrocity committed by ISIS militants in late October when they herded over 600 Shia, Christian and Yazidi men into the desert and executed them at point blank range.
They were forced to count themselves as they lined up before their executioners who, while proclaiming ‘God is great’, opened fire on them with machine guns.

Stabbing Islam in the back

Then of course there were the horrific murders that were carried out at the offices of Charlie Hepdo in Paris on 7th January followed by the brutal killing of four Jewish hostages.

There was widespread condemnation of the Paris killings from people and quarters regardless of religion or creed. Once again, the savage acts of a few in the name of Islam had tainted the rest of the Muslim communities.

In this senseless and brutal killing, the perpetrators have stabbed Islam in the back. It is indeed the height of audacity for these murderers to say they are avenging the Prophet and protecting the sanctity of the religion.

By what authority do they justify killing people for insulting Islam or the Prophet?

Islam has survived for almost 1500 years without these self-righteous self-proclaimed defenders of the faith. It can certainly go on for another thousand years and more without them. The Prophet was sent unto mankind as a blessing and guidance, not a preacher of terrorism.

“And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds.” Al-anbiyaa: 107

We know that during his early mission, all kinds of insult, led by Musaylima, were hurled at the Prophet and his Companions urged him to fight back. The Prophet merely said: ‘Let him be. He is just a liar. Ignore him.’

When the enemies of Islam stepped up their ridicule and persecution, the Companions again asked the Prophet to curse them. At this, the Prophet replied, “I have not been sent to lay a curse upon men but to be a blessing to them.”

When the Prophet went to Ta’if, he attempted to call the community there to Islam. In response, they set the street urchins to hound, harass and then stone him. When he was utterly exhausted and bleeding from head to foot, did he curse his tormentors or seek help for revenge? On the contrary, as all Muslims know or should know, what issued from the Prophet’s lips was and remains indeed one of the most moving and beautiful du’a in Islam:

“O Allah, To Thee I complain of my weakness, my lack of resources and my lowliness before men.
“O most Merciful! Thou art the Lord of the weak and Thou art my Lord. To whom wilt Thou entrust me? To one who will misuse me? Or to an enemy to whom Thou hast given power over me? If Thou art not angry with me then I care not what happens to me. Thy favour is all that counts for me.
“I take refuge in the light of Thy countenance, by which all darkness is illuminated. And the things of this world and next are rightly ordered. I wish to please Thee until Thou art pleased. There is no power and no might save in Thee.”

So, where is the textual authority to establish that Muslims should avenge the Prophet by embarking on a killing spree?

The Prophet’s heart was always filled with love and compassion for human kind regardless of creed or colour. The hearts of these self-appointed avengers are filled with hatred and hostility.

The Prophet taught us tolerance and understanding. These avengers preach intolerance and animosity. The Qur’an tells us to reach out and get to know one another. These killers sow discord and division.

Of 9/11 back then, I had denounced it thus:
“The attacks must be condemned, and the condemnation must be without reservation. The foremost religious authorities are outraged and have issued statements denouncing the monstrous murders. All efforts to punish the perpetrators must be supported.”

Likewise, the response to the killings in Paris must also be unequivocal condemnation. It is cold blooded massacre, plain and simple. There’s nothing to justify or rationalise. It is also not the time for moralizing over U.S., French or European foreign policy.

As stated earlier, these acts of barbarism are tragically not new. We would recall the reaction of Muslims to the Danish cartoons. Innocent lives were lost and buildings were set on fire as angry mobs in various parts of the Muslim world went on a rampage to demonstrate their anger. Was that following the example of the Prophet?

Freedom of expression and double standards

Nevertheless, much as we must defend our fundamental liberties, the fact is that there is no such thing as absolute freedom of expression, not even in Europe and certainly not in France. When the comic book on the life of the Prophet was first published in France two years ago, I had deplored it as sacrilege against Islam. Indeed, I had called for calm and rationality in response even as we should denounce the cartoons as vile and contemptible.

To my mind, the Danish cartoons, Charlie Hebdo caricatures and the rest of the tasteless and insensitive publications ridiculing Islam and the Prophet are mere manifestations of Islamophobia in all its varied guises. They appear to betray a deep-seated Freudian prejudice or animosity harking back to the Crusades.

This is most disappointing considering the strong tradition of scholarship and interest on Islam in Europe that has yielded scholars such as William Muir, Richard Burton, Reynold Nicholson, Max Muller, Theodor Noldeke, Ignaz Goldziher, Ernest Renan, Louis Massignon and Henri Pirenne, to name but a few.
Inspired by Hafez (1325-89), Goethe (1749-1832) wrote West-östlicher Divan (West-Eastern Diwan). It symbolizes, not a clash, but interaction between the West and the East, between Greek and Persian civilizations and between Christendom and the Muslim world.

Goethe’s Diwan in turn inspired other works by European writers. In 1924, Iqbal (1877-1938) himself was moved to publish Payam-e-Mashriq (The Message of the East) underscoring the role of religion and spirituality in civilisation.

As we moved into the 21st century, instead of great works of literature celebrating intellectual convivencia between the Muslim world and the West, we are instead inundated with trashy and worthless writings and cartoons clearly aimed at provoking Muslims and causing unrest.

A clear line must therefore be drawn between freedom of expression and hate crimes.
So, while I condemn the Paris killings, I cannot subscribe to the chant of “je suis Charlie” because I do not support the portrayal of the image of the Prophet, let alone caricaturing him in any way. Likewise, I do not support blasphemy against Christians, Jews or any other religion. Neither do I support the freedom to incite hatred against anyone or community on account of religion, ethnicity or culture.

The publication of the Charlie Hepdo cartoons was highly offensive to many Muslims. The French government did nothing to hold to account the people responsible for that act of profanity. Now, in the aftermath of the Paris massacre, just a few days later the magazine republished the offensive cartoons and this was officially sanctioned by the French authorities. These are blatant acts of provocation and must be condemned.

The issue here is: should there be freedom to commit blasphemy and incite communal hatred? It is true that crimes such as incitement to racial discrimination or hatred will always be challenged as a violation of the right to freedom of expression. But if someone makes a speech clearly liable to arouse feelings of distrust, rejection or even hatred towards a particular group of people of a particular ethnic background, it is incitement to racial hatred. His freedom of expression must then become secondary to the right to dignity and freedom from harassment or vilification on account of ethnic or religious differences.

Holocaust denial

In 2007, the European Union approved legislation that would make denying the Holocaust punishable by jail sentences. This was said to be a minimalist compromise because of the need to reconcile the protection of freedom of speech with protection of their citizens from racism and hate crimes.

This EU law mandates prison terms of as much as three years for “intentional conduct” that incites violence or hatred against a person’s “race, colour, religion, descent or national or ethnic origin.” The same punishment would apply to those who incite violence by “denying or grossly trivializing crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

Even before that, “Holocaust denial” laws were already in place in Germany, France, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland and several other European countries: It is a crime publicly to dispute the official version of Holocaust history. So, this is a classic example of even established European democracies watering down freedom of expression. But no one, at least no Western media, has ever framed this issue as a clash between Judaism and freedom of expression.

I personally have no problem with that. ‘Holocaust history’ is something very sensitive to the Jewish community. To deny that indeed is to hurt the feelings of the Jewish community – and also to deny that they were victims of genocide. It may or may not incite violence in doing so. We don’t condone violence but we appreciate that the Jewish community is entitled to feel hurt by such denials.

Of course, those who subscribe to absolute freedom will not agree. We can debate this and there is no need to kill anyone.

But the question is why is it perfectly legitimate to hurt the sensitivities of Muslims by depicting their Prophet or caricaturing him?

Why the double standards?

If France is to remain true to its “je suis Charlie” credo which is the metaphor for absolute freedom of expression then they should repeal the “Holocaust denial” law too or other related laws. Or else, they should stop parading on their moral high horse in the name of absolute freedom of expression.

However, the constraint on freedom of expression in these matters must work both ways. For example, in the case of Malaysia, if action is taken against anyone for blaspheming Islam or ridiculing Muslims on account of their religion, then the authorities must also act even-handedly in cases of blasphemy or insult to other religions and faiths. This is not a hypothetical issue. In Malaysia, we have seen how certain prominent Muslim leaders openly insult Hindus or Christians and get away with it. Why the double standards again?

As even the great libertarian Hayek has said, liberty and responsibility are inseparable. A free society will not function unless its members accept the consequences of their action. Freedom also implies the freedom to speak the truth and not to spread falsehood or corrupt public morals.

Yet, in saying that not only Muslims but any right minded and decent individual may be offended by these kinds of publications, Muslims must learn temperance and tolerance in the tradition of the Prophet. Remember the Prophet’s du’a at Taif and stay true to the Prophet’s memory. Emulate his magnanimity in the face of ridicule and scorn from the enemies.

Between je suis and j’accuse

There is also the tendency to pin anti-Semitism in Europe to Islamic militants as was clearly the case in the Paris attacks where both the Israeli and French governments were quick to label them as anti-Semitic attacks.

Some perspective is needed here. We may recall that the French government has had a history of anti-Semitism. While the mantra is now “je suis Charlie”, at one time more than a century ago, it was “J’accuse”. That was the title of the open letter that Émile Zola published on the front page of a leading Parisian newspaper.

Expressed in highly emotional language, Zola charged the nation’s military top brass with conspiracy and anti-Semitism in dealing with the infamous Alfred Dreyfus affair.

Instead of bringing the culprits to book, the authorities lost no time in arresting Zola, charging him with criminal libel, and having him tried as a common criminal. The show trial was so well managed that an angry bloodthirsty Parisian mob gathered outside the court house clamouring for Zola’s head.

Anatole France, another eminent man of letters, came to his defence and valiantly testified to Zola’s “admirable good faith and absolute integrity.” But this was of no consequence as Zola was hastily convicted and sentenced to jail. However, thanks to his quick thinking and survival instincts, Zola chose freedom instead and dashed off to England. By his reckoning, there was a total failure of justice and it would be foolish for him to submit to an utterly corrupt and unjust system.

Today, France has swung to the other end of the pendulum in making itself among the most vocal in condemning anti-Semitism, apart from the “Holocaust denial” law.I have no quarrel with that. But placing anti-Semitism in juxtaposition with Islam or Islamist activities perpetuates a false dichotomy. It is misguided as well as misleading and only breeds further Islamophobia.

Islamophobia and the ‘clash-of-civilisations’ narrative

Should the Charlie Hebdo attack lead to a resurgence of the clash-of-civilisations narrative?
For the reasons as aforementioned, it should not. Why should it? If it does, then it is testimony to the success of the military jihadists’ doctrine of terror. Terrorism wins if we succumb to fear. It wants to sow discord, distrust and suspicion. Jihadist terrorists rejoice at the rising tide of Islamophobia for it sustains and justifies their hatred and killing. Islamophobia may deal a double whammy – it pushes moderate Muslims to a corner and moderate non-Muslims further to the right. The clash of civilizations would then become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

There are portents of that possibility as evidenced by the rising cases of the German far-right extremists attacking foreigners, particularly Muslims. As of last year, there has been a significant nationwide increase in xenophobic offences.

At the same time, there has been a spike in anti-Islam ‘Monday marches’ under the PEGIDA banner. What can we expect from a movement that says “Patriotic Europeans against the Islamisation of the Occident” if not more intense Islamophobia?

There has also been a sudden rise in hate crimes against Muslims in France after the Paris killings.
It is therefore not only wrong but harmful to frame the Charlie Hepdo killings as a clash between Islam and freedom of speech, and hence the chanting of “je suis Charlie”. Such a narrative can only add to Islamophobia.

Islam and Muslims are not in this battle. Terrorists and murderers are. And they will continue to kill and maim not just to do battle against freedom of speech but against generally what the free world, including Muslims, want.

Islamic statehood

While it would be pointless to make sense of these acts of indescribable brutality, it may be instructive to review the underlying basis for excessiveness in religious observances.

This may be attributed to a fundamental misunderstanding of the concept of istiqamah, a doctrine of piety grounded in Surah Fussilat: 30:

“Indeed, those who have said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ and then remained on a right course – the angels will descend upon them, [saying], ‘Do not fear and do not grieve but receive good tidings of Paradise, which you were promised.’”

The term refers to persistence, taking a firm position, remaining steadfast in one’s religious beliefs, views and practices. But it should be pointed out that while istiqamah is enjoined, extremism is forbidden, as in surah Hud: 112:

“So remain on a right course as you have been commanded, [you] and those who have turned back with you [to Allah ], and do not transgress. Indeed, He is Seeing of what you do.”

Indeed, transgressing the limits means taking things to the extreme and that is not permitted. Whilst we cannot deny that jihad is textually ordained, it would be misconceived to equate it only with war and violence. Islam stands for peace founded on equity and justice. While Muslims are told to fight tyranny and oppression, force may only be used as a last resort. As well pointed out by Esposito:
The two broad meanings of jihad, nonviolent and violent, are contrasted in a well-known prophetic tradition. It is said that when Muhammad returned from battle he told his followers, “We return from the lesser jihad to the greater jihad.” The greater jihad is the more difficult and more important struggle against one’s ego, selfishness, greed, and evil.

Yes, but as following the jihad al asghrar (the lesser jihad) and the jihad al akbar (the greater jihad) is the jihad al kabir or “great jihad” as mentioned in the Surah al Furqan 25:52,

“So do not obey the disbelievers, and strive against them with the Qur’an a great striving.”

This is the intellectual jihad, which is the universal principle that requires respect for knowledge, including freedom of thought, publication, and assembly. This jihad is a permanent effort. It is the responsibility of concerned citizens and those in leadership positions to bring the wisdom of Islam to bear on all issues of conscience.

Even though there is no real textual authority, Jihadi terrorist groups generally and particularly in the case of ISIS fall back on a simplistic but highly appealing interpretation of Islam to provide a moral imperative for martyrdom: fight in the way of Allah to establish an Islamic state ruled under shari’ah law with hudud and die as martyrs.

There is a certain romantic allure for this borne by history if we recall the abolition of the institution of the caliphate under Mustafa Kemal and the bitterness and resentment it caused to those who had felt that this indeed was the final severance of the link with Islam’s glorious past.

Whilst mainstream and moderate Muslims may find the idea laughable, for extremist groups like ISIS and to a slightly lesser extent, al-Qaida, the restoration of a caliphate and dying as martyrs in the process may well be a paramount goal.

This may well be a ploy by the powers that be in the organisation who personally may have more worldly rewards in mind, but to the highly impressionable and idealistic Muslim youth across Europe and other parts of the Muslim world, this could be their clarion call.

Nevertheless, it needs reminding that the state set up by the Prophet Muhammad in Medina after 622AD was not a Caliphate but a community with a constitutional Charter comprising Muslims, Jews, Christians or pagans whose fundamental liberties were protected including the right of all citizens to be free and equal.

This foundational doctrine of Islamic statehood is just lost on these jihadists and their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi with the self-proclaimed title of “Caliph Ibrahim”, arrogating to himself the highest authority in the Muslim world.

They pervert the concept of jihad and among the first acts they do is to force non-Muslims to convert and appropriate women and young girls as war booty.

In their fanatical drive to expand their state, they force into marriage young women and even children or worse, rape them, apart from the other acts of brutality as recounted earlier.

Unfortunately, we see that certain leaders of the Muslim community have chosen to remain coy in their responses to the spread of ISIS as well as to the murder and mayhem committed. They don the cloak of religiosity, pay lip service to upholding the sovereignty of the faith and exploit the ignorance of the masses.

Allah does not forbid you to be kind, uphold ties, return favours and be fair towards non-Muslims. Placed in the present context of ISIS and the manner in which they treat non-Muslims, we can see the gross violation of these zealots who are killing in the name of Islam.

However, the answer to the rise of fundamentalist jihadism is not just more bombs and fire power but more efforts at removing the fundamental reasons for their misguided notions of jihad as well as the factors that tend to disenchantment and alienation.

Military power, indeed, is essential on the battle front in terms of gaining geographical and territorial advantage but without winning the ideological war, jihadist terrorists will continue to sprout like mushrooms.

Justice and Moderation

In surah al-Baqarah:143, Allah enjoins:

“And thus we have made you a just community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you.”

Moderation and justice feature in all aspects of Islam.

Islam maintains moderation in faith and enjoins respect for other religions. The true Muslim believes in all the Prophets, Messengers, and in all Allah’s revealed Books.

Hence, controversy over use of ‘Allah’ and Malay translation of the Bible can be resolved once this fundamental principle is understood. The traditional conservative members of the Malay-Muslim community must therefore be actively engaged.

In Malaysia, groups like Perkasa and Isma should also be engaged on account of their truncated views of Islam and their apparent inability to separate religion from ethnicity.

Islam is moderate in the acts of worship it enjoins for it neither commands one to abandon it nor to dedicate oneself totally to it.

Islam strikes a balance between extremes of what are forbidden and extremes of what are permitted. The halal-haram controversy must be dealt with by using a moderate approach without the need for name-calling and hostile posturing.

In the pursuit of knowledge, moderation must be maintained by striking a balance between reason and Revelation. The human intellect (aql) is essential for material progress but without divine guidance, man’s propensity to go astray could take him to excesses.

As between reason and revelation, the raison d’êtrelies in jihad al kabir as mentioned earlier.

Maqasid al-Shari’ah

“Islam rahmatan lil ‘alamin” will remain just a catch phrase if the umma fails to rise up to the challenges of the globalized world. Jihad in the true sense must begin with the principle that all pursuits are to be actualised by striving for what is beneficial for mankind and preventing what is harmful.

Indiscriminate bandying of terms like ‘Shari’ah’ and ‘hudud’ serves no purpose other than offering a truncated view of Islam and perhaps enabling certain quarters to garner brownie points among the less informed.

To my mind, the generic prescription for the umma to face the challenges of the globalized world lies in the maqasid al-Shari’ah.

It is a manifestation of the miracle of the Qur’an that the more we subject it to our rational intellect, the more meaning it unfolds. This is quite apart from what we know as kashf or ilham, that is, infused knowledge or inspiration which is direct knowledge from Allah, accompanied by sakina (tranquility). In respect of the maqasid al-Shari’ah, it is jihad al-kabir that must prod us to go beyond mere labels. This warrants a sincere and earnest effort to strive intellectually in order to do justice to the true purport of revelation. Surah al Furqan:32

“He gives wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good. And none will remember except those of understanding.”

In this regard, applying the maqasid al-Shari’ah in the economic sphere, the best prescription not just for the Muslim world but for the world at large must be nothing less than the establishment of a humane economy. The central doctrine of balance must be observed in order to achieve equilibrium free market capitalism and social justice.

In quibbling over whether or not hudud is mandatory or that the Shari’ah should be the law of the land, there is the unfortunate neglect of the main issues: socio-economic hardship with rising costs of living and growing unemployment, widening wealth gap, housing and health care problems, and of course rampant corruption and power abuse.

In governance, transparency and accountability cannot be compromised while corruption is shunned.
Again, the maqasid enjoins that the preservation of peace and security requires appropriate laws but this must be balanced by the Qur’anic imperative on justice and the rule of law.

Disconnect with modernity and shallow understanding of Shari’ah

Much of the underlying problem in the discourse about establishing an Islamic state, implementing the criminal punishment of hudud, and the need for Islam to be practiced according to its black letter tradition can be traced to a shallow understanding of the Shari’ah and the failure to consider the maqasid.
For example, in Southeast Asia where there is much clamour by certain groups for the imposition of hudud, much of the discourse on the subject of hudud is simplistic as there is generally neither a serious attempt made to understand a modern theory of criminal justice within the maqasid nor paying sufficient attention to the approaches used by the Prophet SAW.

Views by well-known ulema such as Shaikh Yusuf al-Qhardawi and Shaikh Taha Jabir al-Alwani on the position and priority of hudud are condemned as being apologetic.

In his treatise “Hudud in Present Day Discourse” Sheikh al-Qhardawi gives the basic guidelines on the method of implementation of hudud so as to narrow the gap of diversity and avert further discord and conflict.

Sheikh al-Qardhawi asserts that before the Prophet implemented hudud, the prerequisite was to ensure that the Muslim community must be fully prepared for it by having reached the level of advancement in aspects of faith, religious laws, morals, ethics and values.

He maintains that other laws pertaining to Islam should be implemented first before the implementation of hudud which is not ‘top priority’ especially while other crucial matters pertaining to the umma remain unresolved.

Citing the jurisprudence of Sheikh Abdul Wahhab al-Khallaf, (1998, Ilmu Usul al-Fiqh (The Science of Islamic Jurisprudence), Mansurah: Darul Kalimah, pp.34-35), al-Qardhawi says there are three main categories of the Shari’ah, namely, laws pertaining to faith, (aqidah), laws relating to morality, (akhlak) and laws governing practical affairs (amali).

Within this latter category of practical affairs (amali) there are two sub-divisions, namely, laws pertaining to rituals of worship (ibadat) and laws pertaining to transactions (muamalat).

Under this latter category of transactions, there are another seven sub-divisions of the law, namely, Family Law, Civil Law, Criminal Law comprising hudud, qisas and takzir, Legislation, Constitutional Law, International law, and law pertaining to the economy.

This categorisation clearly shows that hudud law is but one constituent of the vast corpus of the Shari’ah and not, as some parties would suggest, the be-all and end-all of Islamic law. On the contrary, as stated by al-Qardhawi, hudud law occupies the bottom rung in the overall scheme of the implementation of the Shari’ah.

Qardhawi’s view is also shared by Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah al-Khatib, prominent leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and author of Risalah al-Ta’lim, Sharh Usul al-’Isyreen and other important works of Islamic jurisprudence. He has dismissed the claim that the implementation of hudud law is top priority.
In the words of al-Khatib, “hudud in Islam…comes at the end of the process of the Shari’ah because Islam places greater value on the human hand (rather than amputating it because of stealing), honour, property, and the overall quality of life.”

Qardhawi also asserts that Islam is not out to subject people to hudud punishment, as evident in the practice of the Prophet, who made it a point to avoid imposing it, even on those who had approached him with confessions of having transgressed the law.

Jurisprudence of priorities (Fiqh aulawiyat)

It remains to be said that this discourse is not about placing hudud in a less than favourable light but rather that al-Qardhawi’s view is part and parcel of his jurisprudence of priorities (fiqh aulawiyat) where the maqasid al-shari’ah warrant that matters of importance for the community should be ordered according to priorities.

Consequently, the implementation of hudud, being lower in the hierarchy of priorities, cannot supersede the attainment of the higher objectives of the Shari’ah. The principle of balance is therefore crucial to this as ordained in Surah al-Rahman (verses 7-9):

“And the Firmament has He raised high, and He has set up the Balance (of Justice)
In order that ye may not transgress (due) balance
So establish weight with justice and fall not short in the balance”.

In taking this position, al-Qardhawi is also supported among others by Taha Jabir al Awani, Hasan Al Turabi and Rashid al-Ghanusi, all luminaries in Islamic scholarship and jurisprudence.

Jihad al kabir and the intellectual tradition

There is nothing wrong with ritualistic observance according to literalist interpretation in matters of dress, eating, food and socialising but a proper approach must take into account Islam’s far richer and more comprehensive moral tradition, one that gave rise to morally conscious intellectuals.

Jihad al kabir therefore warrants that rather than merely mouthing easy prescriptions we should clearly demonstrate our stand on injustice, the abuse of power, and society’s moral duty to uplift the social condition of the weak and oppressed.

The maqasid will also enjoin government by democratic process and the development of civil society and an intellectual culture in which issues can be vigorously debated where there is ample room for diversity of opinion on issues confronting society.

Diversity of views and inclusive engagement

According to one of the most influential public thinkers of our time, Nobel laureate Professor Amartya Sen, “the central issues in a broader understanding of democracy are political participation, dialogue and public interaction.”

The failure to allow for ‘government by discussion’ can be seen for example in the deprivation of a free and independent press. Without this, the advancement of public reasoning is constrained and is forced to find its voice through other channels. The benefits of a free and independent media have been well expounded by leading writers and empirically we know what that is all about.

Muslim leaders and a new discourse

Nevertheless, for much of the Muslim world, the problem of tyranny and corruption of power remains like a malignant cancer with no clear signs of abatement.

Whatever bright prospects that were held out from the Arab Spring have quickly dissipated into the dark and gloomy portents of despair. Egypt, which witnessed the short-lived democracy that gave much hope to the rest of the Middle East, is now under the stranglehold of a dictator said to be even more tyrannical than Mubarak. Yemen and Libya are back in turmoil while Syria’s Bashir al-Asad continues to massacre his own people with impunity.

Meanwhile, the plight of the Palestinians is all but forgotten. It is time for a reminder to the world that the notorious atrocities perpetrated against the Palestinians since 1948 are not about to disappear any time soon. The renewed massacre of thousands of civilians including women and children in July last year in Gaza cannot be anything but state organized terrorism although much of the West would never deign to refer to it as such.

Today, the Muslim world continues to bear the negative manifestations of a civilization in decay. Even in countries not ravaged by war and that are supposedly ‘democratic’, real freedom and democracy remain elusive. Repressive and archaic laws inherited from the colonial masters continue to prevail in addition to new legislation that stifle freedom and tend to lead to injustice.
With the exception of a few, there is no free and independent press. As a result, the people’s voice can only be heard through an alternative media, one which thrives in spite of the constraints imposed by the authorities by using a plethora of laws enforced with the full might of the organs of state power.

Muslim democrats and the umma

Against this backdrop, the World Forum for Muslim Democrats was recently established whose primary role is to provide a common platform for leaders, intellectuals and professionals in the Muslim world to set a new narrative on freedom, democracy and justice.

There will be zero tolerance for the propagation of extremism, fanaticism or the so-called jihadism of the likes of ISIS, al-Shabab or Boko Haram.

We must make it clear that such actions can never be jihad. This is corruption of Islam of the most vulgar and savage kind. They claim they are doing this for Islam and the umma but what they really seek is worldly gain and political power.

In truth, Allah has a perfect description of this subterfuge and hypocrisy:

And when it is said to them, “Do not cause corruption on the earth,” they say, “We are but reformers.”
Al-Baqara: 11

Many attempts have been made to engage these extreme groups but it appears all calls for moderation and consultation have fallen on deaf ears:

It is as if they are as what Allah has stated:

“Deaf, dumb and blind – so they will not return [to the right path]”

Al-Baqarah:18

To my mind, a new approach has to be articulated on jihad whose true imperative is not to drive wars and conquer new lands but to set the example for inclusive engagement and to drive home the message that differences of views are healthy. The crisis of the umma today is not one of differences of views but of bigotry and intolerance and thus inability to accept the diversity of opinions in a wide spectrum of matters.

In this regard, we must raise the bar in the engagement and go beyond mere tolerance of differing views. While remaining steadfast in our religious convictions, we must do our utmost to foster healthy and vibrant discourses and hold fast to the conviction that allows for freedom of conscience, opinion and expression.

Conclusion

Islam is a blessing and mercy to the entire universe. But Muslims have to make it happen. Muslim leaders can and must set the example for inclusive engagement and to drive home the message that differences of views are healthy.

Justice and moderation should always prevail over injustice and extremism in all its varied guises. The atrocities committed by the extremist groups and terrorists constitute the corruption of Islam of the most vulgar and savage kind.

Islam Rahmatan lil “Alamin must entail that all pursuits are to be actualised by striving for what is beneficial for mankind and preventing what is harmful.

In this new narrative, we must maintain within our moral compass the progressive notions of human rights, freedom of conscience and justice.

These principles will entail the moral duty to protect women and children, the old and the infirm, the rights of minorities. They will drive efforts to establish social justice – to uplift the living standards of the ordinary people, eradicate poverty and democratise access to education at all levels.

Ultimately, these principles will be the bedrock for true democratic governance where transparency and accountability will be virtually written in stone.

That is the true meaning of Islam Rahmatan lil ‘Alamin.

Thank you.

29 January 2015

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Inter-Parliamentary Union expresses deep concern on outcome of Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal

Press Statement by Gooi Hsiao Leung dated 29.1.2015

PKR welcomes the decision by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) to send an international observer to the Federal Court on the 10th of February for the outcome of Anwar’s final appeal against the sodomy II conviction.

IPU’s decision was made at a meeting by it’s Committee of Human Rights on Parliamentarians held just two days ago after reviewing Anwar Ibrahim’s case.

The IPU after reviewing the facts, had noted that the sodomy charges has “been widely criticized as a bid to derail his (Anwar’s) political career” and raised the following serious concerns :

1. The rushed manner in which the final hearings were conducted and organized before the Court of Appeal, the apparent ease with which the main arguments presented by the defence, in particular concerning the integrity of the DNA samples, were dismissed, and the fact that the same law, although never or rarely invoked in Malaysia, has been invoked twice against Anwar Ibrahim.

2. That N. Surendran, Anwar’s lawyer, had been wrongly subjected to threats of being prosecuted for sedition in relation to the legitimate exercise of his role as legal counsel for Anwar, putting unfair pressure on his ability to effectively represent his client without fear of reprisals.

The IPU Committee in its meeting also concluded that in the light of Mr. Anwar Ibrahim’s case history (sodomy I and II) and the issues in play, including the fact that, if upheld, the current conviction would eliminate him from the life of parliament for more than a decade, thus depriving the opposition of its main leader, it is critical for the IPU to closely follow the final stage in the proceedings against Mr. Anwar Ibrahim before the Federal Court.

PKR greatly appreciates the deep concerns shown by the IPU on the outcome of Anwar’s case, especially on the future of the opposition in this country in the event Anwar’s conviction is upheld, and IPU’s decision to send an international observer to closely monitor Anwar’s case.


Gooi Hsiao Leung

Member of Parliament, Alor Setar

PKR International Bureau Chief


“Inter-Parliamentary Union” melahirkan rasa kebimbangan serius terhadap keputusan rayuan Anwar Ibrahim.

Kenyataan Akhbar Gooi Hsiao Leung bertarikh 29.1.2015

PKR mengalu-alukan keputusan oleh “Inter-Parliamentary Union” (IPU) untuk menghantar pemerhati antarabangsa ke Mahkamah Persekutuan pada 10 Februari untuk keputusan rayuan terakhir Anwar terhadap sabitan liwat II.

Keputusan IPU dibuat dalam satu mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Hak Asasi Manusia Ahli-Ahli Parlimen hanya dua hari lepas selepas mengkaji kes Anwar Ibrahim.

IPU selepas mengkaji fakta-fakta, telah mencatitkan notaan bahawa tuduhan liwat ini “telah luas dikritik sebagai satu usaha untuk menjejaskan kerjaya politik” Anwar, dan membangkitkan kebimbangan serius seperti berikutnya:

1. Cara yang bergegas di mana pendengaran akhir dilaksanakan di hadapan Mahkamah Rayuan, dimana hujahan utama pihak pembelaan dengan mudahnya, khususnya terhadap integriti sampel DNA, ditolak, dan hakikat bahawa undang-undang liwat yang sama, walaupun tidak pernah atau jarang digunakan di Malaysia, telah digunakan dua kali terhadap Anwar Ibrahim.

2. Bahawa N. Surendran, peguam Anwar, telah secara salah diancam akan didakwa menghasut berhubung dengan perlaksanaan tanggungjawabnya, dalam peranan beliau sebagai peguam Anwar, dan ini telah meletakkan tekanan yang tidak adil atas keupayaannya untuk mewakili anak guamnya dengan efektif tanpa takut terhadap apa-apa tindakan balas.

Jawatankuasa IPU dalam mesyuaratnya juga membuat kesimpulan bahawa berdasarkan sejarah kes Anwar Ibrahim (kes liwat I dan II) dan isu-isu dalam permainan, termasuk fakta bahawa, jika sabitan beliau ditegakkan, sabitannya akan menghapuskan peranan beliau di parlimen lebih daripada satu dekad, dan ini akan menafikan pembangkang pemimpin utamanya – jadi adalah amat penting bagi IPU untuk rapat mengikuti peringkat akhir dalam prosiding terhadap Anwar di hadapan Mahkamah Persekutuan.

PKR amat menghargai kebimbangan yang ditunjukkan oleh IPU kepada keputusan kes Anwar, terutamanya kepada pada masa depan pembangkang di negara ini sekiranya sabitan Anwar ditegakkan, dan juga keputusan IPU untuk menghantar pemerhati antarabangsa untuk memantau dengan teliti kes Anwar.


Gooi Hsiao Leung

Ahli Parlimen, Alor Setar

Ketua Biro Antarabangsa PKR

29 January 2015

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Calls for action on human rights abuses of MPs worldwide

Geneva, 28 January 2015 – A four-day meeting of IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians has ended in Geneva with a series of decisions on cases across the world.

In Sri Lanka, the Committee is hopeful that the new government will take all the necessary steps to bring to trial those responsible for the murder of MPs Joseph Pararajasingham and Nadarajah Raviraj in 2005 and 2006 respectively. Allegations that the Sri Lankan army and paramilitaries may have had a role in the murders needed examining. The Committee also called on the Sri Lankan authorities to work closely with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights investigation team and act on recommendations made.

The Committee, which reviewed the situation of 301 MPs from 40 countries, expressed deep concern over developments in Malaysia where a lawyer for opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim is facing sedition charges. With a final verdict in the second sodomy trial of Ibrahim expected next month, IPU will send a trial observer to the hearings. The Organization had already expressed concern at the rushed process of Anwar Ibrahim’s appeal hearings last year.

The decisions on Malaysia and Sri Lanka were among the 20 taken by the Committee, and involved 88 MPs in 15 countries.

The Committee also called for greater protection for Afghan woman MP and human rights advocate Fawzia Koofi who survived an assassination attempt in 2010. She has been the target of additional death threats since. The perpetrators remain at large and the Committee remains concerned that unless justice prevails, Koofi and other MPs’ ability to carry out their parliamentary mandate is being seriously undermined.

On a case involving 14 Venezuelan MPs, many of whom had their parliamentary immunity stripped or were facing a range of allegedly politically motivated charges, the Committee has recommended that a mission to the Latin American country be carried out to help make progress on its resolution.

There was concern too that the suspension of Israeli Knesset member Haneen Zoabi’s right to make statements in the parliament and other parliamentary privileges after she had exercised her right to freedom of speech, had not been quashed by the Israeli High Court. With new parliamentary elections due in March, and recalling a previous attempt to disqualify Zoabi from standing for election, the IPU Committee will be following developments closely.

During the meeting, a new case was admitted, involving the former Speaker of the Niger Parliament Amadou Hama, on allegations that he was complicit in his wife’s alleged purchase of babies and then claiming them as their own children. IPU expects to send an observer to the trial proceedings to ascertain fair process in the case.

Cases concerning 22 MPs, including that of Icelandic MP and former Wikileaks volunteer, Birgitta Jonsdottir, were closed. In this instance, however, concerns remain on the repercussions of a Twitter court order on Jonsdottir’s right to freedom and privacy and on the challenges to human rights protection in the face of fast-moving technological developments.

A new Committee president was also elected for one year. British MP Ann Clwyd takes over from Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.

The Committee deals with human rights violations and abuses of MPs such as death, torture, threats, arbitrary arrest and detention, lack of fair trial, violation of freedom of expression or the unlawful suspension or loss of their parliamentary mandate.

Find details on these and all other decisions taken by the Committee at this session here http://www.ipu.org/pdf/hrcomres146.pdf

26 January 2015

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26 JANUARI 2015
KENYATAAN MEDIA
UNTUK EDARAN SEGERA

Tarikh Penghakiman 10 Februari

Saya menerima maklumat yang menyatakan Mahkamah Persekutuan telah menetapkan 10 Februari hadapan sebagai tarikh penghakiman bagi rayuan kes saya di peringkat Mahkamah Persekutuan di Istana Kehakiman Putrajaya.

Berdasarkan penghujahan pasukan guaman, saya yakin akan dibebaskan berdasarkan perincian fakta dan undang-undang kukuh yang telah dibentangkan di hadapan panel Mahkamah Persekutuan.

Fitnah tidak wajar dijadikan alat dalam tinju politik dan diberi ruang untuk memporak-perandakan negara.

Saya panjatkan doa pada Allah Yang Maha Esa agar keadilan dapat ditegakkan dan saya dibebaskan.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

23 January 2015

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KENYATAAN MEDIA

Takziah Atas Kemangkatan Raja Abdullah

Saya merakamkan ucapan takziah atas kemangkatan Raja Abdullah Abdulaziz semalam. Didoakan moga ruh Baginda dicucuri rahmat Allah swt.

Pada masa yang sama ucapan tahniah diucapkan kepada Putera Mahkota Arab Saudi, Raja Salman Abdulaziz atas pertabalan baginda selaku Raja Arab Saudi yang baharu. Semoga era kepimpinan beliau dapat memandu Arab Saudi dan Timur Tengah amnya ke satu tahap terbaik.

Bersama-sama kita mendoakan kesejahteraan semua.

ANWAR IBRAHIM

23 January 2015

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Huffington Post

Dear 25,000 Anti-Islam Dresden Protesters and Pegida,

I hear you marched in your thousands against my religion. Last week, and last month. You marched against immigrants, foreigners, and anyone a shade darker. I will not draw comparisons to Nazi Germany. I will not call you bigots, I will not insult you, and I will not label you. But we do have a problem.

You marched with banners claiming your city is overcrowded with Muslims. Yet 0.1% of Dresden are Muslim. You marched claiming immigrants are cramming your schools and leaving your children to travel miles for an education. Yet 2.5% of Dresden are foreign-born.

You claim that Germany is being invaded by Muslims. Yet only 5% of Germans are Muslim.

You march “against the Islamization of the West”. Yet within a century containing two World Wars, the decolonisation process, countless civil conflicts, foreign intervention, globalisation, and further displacement, Muslims remain a fringe minority in Europe. Less than 6%. A pretty lousy colonisation process, no?

You marched against refugees and asylum seekers, claiming Germany is their target for welfare and social security. Yet according to UNHCR, there are 51.2million refugees worldwide. Germany caters for less than 0.01% of them. Is that too much to ask? Is such a humanitarian obligation too large for the Refugee Convention 1951 your government ratified? Or is it actually punitive, for example, in comparison to Lebanon where every fourth person is a Syrian refugee?

Protesters, you are not alone. In my country, Britain, we have our own anti-immigration party. Ukip won their first seat in Clacton with nothing but anti-migrant rhetoric. Yet only 4.3% of Clacton are foreign-born. In a Parliamentary-based system, where each constituency elects a representative to voice their views, there is nothing Ukip can do for the people of Clacton.

Do you see a pattern? Perhaps I should explain. Your kind tend to establish themselves where their “problem” does not actually exist. Is this therefore an issue of negative perception? Fear of the unfamiliar? Intolerance in ignorance? Scapegoating an underclass? Media misinformation?

I will elaborate. London has a 36.2% foreign-born population. Relatively, that is fifteen times the population of foreigners in Dresden. A far greater diversity. Ukip poll the lowest in London compared to the rest of the country- in every demographic, foreign or not. London is a metropolis of brown, black, and white working side by side. We thrive. I saw an atheist today. Guess what? I did not try to convert him nor behead him for blasphemy; I helped him off the bus. He was 74 years old.

Does that make sense?

Your only insight into Islam is a box in your living room. Confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance infest the information you expose yourself to. Information which dehumanises and polarises anyone unlike you.

You enjoy the far-right media portrayal of Islam. It makes you feel good. Superior. Better. The barbaric Muslims, we are. We disrespect women, and we impose our beliefs on to others.

Yet did you know that Turkey, Indonesia, and Bangladesh, all Muslim majority states have had more elected female heads of state than almost every other Western country? Did you know that the Quran explicitly says “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:256), and our Prophet clarified “whomever hurts a non-Muslim will not smell a whiff of paradise”?

Did you know that your twisted misrepresentation of my religion helps the terrorists? Did you know that you and the terrorists agree on what seems to form an integral part of your identity: that Islam is violent? Did you know that you even use the same methodology to proclaim this; taking a verse out of context and evading any intellectual discourse?

What are Muslims to you, anyway? Arabs? Less than 20% of us are Arab. Indian or Pakistani? Again, less than 20%. Turkish? Less than 5%. Nothing else? That is more than half of us you cannot identify.

You assume our identity by our race. Is it not disheartening to you that such a narrow world view is legitimately held by so many? Does it not display a perspective so constrained to the contents of immediate life and prejudice? Is that not likely to lead to ignorant assumptions and offence in face of what is unbeknownst?

What becomes of the German Muslim, I wonder? Is he spared because he is white? Or is he declared a traitor and shunned? Is it difficult to choose between racism and neglecting a fellow countryman? Choose neither. Choose education. Tolerance. Kindness.

Detach from the vicious cycle of far-right media (who are unfamiliar with foreigners) feeding the far-right populace (who are unfamiliar with foreigners) what they should think about foreigners.

I ask you, have you ever met a Muslim? “Met” is not a synonym for shouting abuse at or stabbing to death in or outside their home. No, have you ever sat with a Muslim? Talked to a Muslim? Worked with a Muslim?

You should. At an airport perhaps, where we are 42 times more likely to be searched, and thus declared safe for human interaction.

Sincerely,
A Real-Life Muslim (not the ones on TV)

23 January 2015

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TODAY

Malaysia’s pace of democratisation has improved only marginally over the years and it remained a “flawed democracy” last year, the same category it occupied in 2008, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) latest findings showed.

The country placed 65th out of 167 nations and federal territories reviewed in the EIU’s Democracy Index 2014, putting it 10 spots ahead of Singapore, but far behind other South-east Asian peers such as Indonesia, which is 49th, and the Philippines in the 53rd spot.

Last year, Malaysia was categorised as a flawed democracy from its aggregate grade of 6.49 out of 10, according to scores tabulated from expert assessments and public surveys.

Flawed democracies are countries that respect basic civil liberties and generally hold free and fair elections, though they may be marred by problems such as infringements on media freedom, said the EIU.

Apart from possible irregularities in elections, a flawed democracy also suffers from other significant weaknesses such as problems in governance, an underdeveloped political culture and low levels of political participation, the EIU said.

Civil society movements in Malaysia have previously alleged that clandestine gerrymandering, the abuse of government machinery, strict media controls and vote-rigging in elections have allowed the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition to stay in power for more than five decades.

Despite the allegations, BN lost five states to the opposition as well as its customary parliamentary supermajority in a 2008 general election that was later described as a “political tsunami”. Allegations of unfair polls arose more strongly after the following general election in 2013, when BN lost the popular vote but remained firmly in power and whittled down the number of opposition-held states to only three.

The EIU findings put Singapore in 75th place last year, under the flawed democracy category, with a score of 6.03. That was an improvement from its “hybrid regime” ranking in 2008, when it came in 82nd place with a score of 5.89.

In its report, the EIU highlighted the notable trend of a growing level of engagement in politics in Asia, including more prominent protests in countries “ranging from supposedly apathetic Singapore through to more active democracies, such as India and Taiwan”. “In Singapore, this shift has been enough to lift the country from the status of hybrid regime to flawed democracy,” the report added.

In response, a Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman said: “This index is based on a rigid, ideological position that ignores the fact that democratic governments around the world take different forms, depending on their particular history and national conditions. Singapore is a fully democratic state that pragmatically pursues policies to maximise the social and economic outcomes for our citizens.”

The index considers hybrid regimes as countries with substantial election irregularities that often prevent them from being free and fair. They also tend to see government pressure on opposition parties and candidates and “serious weaknesses” in political culture and civil society, among other factors.

The EIU said the index, a snapshot on the state of democracy worldwide, was based on ratings for 60 indicators grouped into five categories: Electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture.

Based on scores within the five categories, rankings are then assigned according to four types of regimes: Full democracies (8 to 10), flawed democracies (6 to 7.9), hybrid regimes (4 to 5.9), and authoritarian regimes (below 4).

Malaysia and Singapore share their category with 51 other countries. Twenty-four nations were categorised as full democracies, 39 as hybrid regimes and 52 as authoritarian regimes.

22 January 2015

Pendapat

Pendapat Anda?

Saya ingin menyatakan sokongan terbuka ke atas kenyataan terbaharu Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) melalui Presiden S.M. Mohamed Idris bersabit gesaan membekukan penukaran gunatanah hutan kepada perladangan.

Beberapa perkembangan mutakhir termasuklah bencana banjir yang melanda khususnya kawasan Pantai Timur dan beberapa kawasan lain Semenanjung Malaysia dan tanah runtuh di Cameron Highland merupakan natijah daripada penukaran gunatanah hutan yang didorong inisiatif penerokaan hutan simpan kekal. Ini jelas sekali memberi kesan jangka panjang kepada keseimbangan ekosistem dan biodiversiti.

Isu pembalakan haram yang berlaku baik di Semenanjung mahupun Sabah dan Sarawak bukan sesuatu yang baru dibangkitkan sehari dua ini. Isu ini menjangkau puluhan tahun dan pastinya memberi dampak negatif ke atas perolehan hasil hutan. Puluhan malah ratusan juta ringgit hilang begitu sahaja saban tahun dek pembalakan haram yang tidak dibendung dengan serius.

Perincian dan butiran fakta yang dikemukakan oleh SAM menunjukkan rakyat wajar merasa bimbang. Trend melalui konsep agro-perhutanan tidak wajar dijadikan justifikasi untuk menghalalkan penerokaan hutan serta penukaran guna tanah melibatkan hutan simpan kekal secara sewenang-wenang. Justeru wajar sekali kenyataan SAM ini dijawab dengan jelas dan tuntas oleh badan berwajib khususnya Kementerian Sumber Asli & Alam Sekitar melalui Jabatan Perhutanan Semenanjung Malaysia serta Kementerian Perusahaan Perladangan & Komoditi melalui Lembaga Perindustrian Kayu Malaysia (MTIB).

Adalah wajar sekiranya Majlis Tanah Negara kembali menyemak Dasar Perhutanan Negara yang digubal pada tahun 1977 agar ia diperkemas sesuai dengan kondisi masa kini yang terdedah kepada ancaman pembalakan serta penerokaan haram, dan juga mempertimbangkan seseriusnya gesaan SAM untuk membekukan sebarang bentuk penukaran gunatanah hutan kepada perladangan. Elemen penguatkuasaan harus dimantapkan supaya bersifat lebih efektif dalam menangani masalah ini.

Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) juga digesa bertindak tegas untuk membanteras kegiatan korupsi di sebalik pembalakan haram yang berlaku. Dalam pada kita mendorong pembangunan dilaksana dan menggiatkan hasil perladangan, kita sama sekali tidak wajar berkompromi dengan pemugaran tanah sehingga mengakibatkan keseimbangan ekosistem terjejas.

ANWAR IBRAHIM
22 Januari 2015

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