Bebas: Lecturer’s proselytisation claim feeds Muslim paranoia


PETALING JAYA: A university lecturer’s claim that Selangor Speaker Hannah Yeoh was attempting to proselytise the Muslims by speaking of her personal religious experience is “absurd”, said rights group Bebas.

The group’s spokesperson Azrul Mohd Khalib said the arguments put forward by the lecturer, Kamarul Zaman Yusoff, “feeds into the paranoia that Muslims, in a Muslim majority country, should forever feel insecure, afraid and suspicious of those of other faiths”.

“Such arguments use fear, bigotry and compulsion instead of learning, understanding and discussion.

“As an academician, he (Kamarul) should know better,” Azrul told FMT.

Kamarul who is Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Malaysian Institute for Political Studies director, had yesterday lodged a police report against Yeoh for allegedly driving a “Christian agenda” through her book titled “Becoming Hannah: A Personal Journey by Hannah Yeoh”

“I was shocked to find that this book contained parables and excerpts from the Bible. I believe this book is an attempt to persuade, influence or incite non-Christians, including Muslims, to embrace Christianity or become inclined towards Christianity,” he had said in the police report.

Kamarul also said the stories and quotations from the Bible that were included in Yeoh’s book could influence readers, including himself, to feel admiration for the greatness of “Hannah Yeoh’s God”.

But Azrul said this claim is silly, paranoid, and implied Kamarul’s unfair and erroneous assumption that Muslims in Malaysia are so vulnerable, timid and fragile as to have a personal autobiography affect their own faith.

“It also speaks to Yeoh’s formidable writing skills that somehow Kamarul’s personal faith would be affected simply by reading about her personal journey as a Christian and her struggles as a Malaysian politician.

“Perhaps rather than accusing Yeoh of trying to proselytise and convert others to Christianity, Kamarul should reflect on the depth of his own faith and consider writing about his own struggles, if any,” Azrul said.

He called Yeoh an example of an outstanding politician whom Malaysians, especially young women, could look up to and aspire to be.

“The fact that she had decided to put pen to paper about stories of her personal struggles and journey as a person of faith, speaks to me of a person of tremendous courage and strength.

“We need more stories like hers,” Azrul said about Hannah’s book which was released in 2014 and is available at all major bookstores.

Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim echoed the same sentiments, saying statements like Kamarul’s can create further tension among Malaysia’s multi-racial society.

Hence, “Muslims in Malaysia must show some restraint and maturity”, he told FMT.

“They should not accuse Christians of criminal acts, simply when they sing praises of their own religion.

“We should only worry when people of other faiths mock and make fun of our religion.”