PETAlING JAYA: Former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim today challenged an academic’s claim that non-Muslims’ scepticism of the wasatiyyah (moderation) promoted by the government was due to Islamophobia, saying the real reason has nothing to do with Islam.
The real reason, according to Zaid, is the fact that the wasatiyyah frequently invoked by Prime Minister Najib Razak in his speeches is “not the real deal”.
“Muslims and non-Muslims alike reject his idea of wasatiyyah because it is phoney.
“Under this prime minister’s stewardship, Malaysia has ceased to be a moderate and stable Muslim country. Under his leadership, we have seen the non-Muslim community grow increasingly distrustful of Islam, and for good reason,” he said in a blog post today.
The DAP member said Najib’s wasatiyyah was not real as the prime minister showed no moderation in his actions.
“He does not speak the truth but uses vulgar language at public functions. He uses his powers to emasculate public institutions, so it is genuinely confusing when the professors describe him as ‘moderate’.”
Zaid was responding to remarks by Professor Teo Kok Seong from the National Council of Professors, who said yesterday that Islamophobia was to blame for some non-Muslims’ scepticism of wasatiyyah.
Citing a survey by an academic from the Islamic Studies Department of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Teo said many non-Muslims rejected the concept as they saw it as part of Islamisation.
“This is because non-Muslims and non-Malays have the wrong perception of Islam, be it as a religion or a way of life,” he said.
However, Zaid said Najib’s idea of wasatiyyah was rejected by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
“Non-Muslims are not the only ones who are wary of the prime minister’s wasatiyyah, as many Muslims like me are fearful of what the country is becoming.”
Zaid gave the example of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) relationship with PAS, which he called “a useless party that promotes rule by Islamic theologians” and “a party that will destroy liberty and freedom, and endanger democracy and racial tolerance in Malaysia”.
“Never before has any BN prime minister – except during the critical situation post-1969 when our second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak made peaceful overtures to PAS – ever considered PAS to be a moderate party.
“Yet this is the party that our wasatiyyah leader considers an ally.”
Under Najib’s “wasatiyyah” rule, Zaid said, Malaysians lived in fear of government-funded religious zealots and extremists.
“Liberals with progressive ideas are labelled ‘deviant’ and are stopped from speaking, and the public events they plan are not given the approval to be held.
“Books and festivals have been banned, as have foreign Muslim academics who are invited here for speaking engagements. Moreover, members of Parliament have been prohibited from travelling.
“And yet, incendiary preachers like Zakir Naik, Zamihan Mat Zin and thousands of their ilk roam the country to preach ideas that we do not need, and that are inimical to the country’s wellbeing,” he said.
Zaid said it would be hypocrisy of the highest degree if the members of the National Council of Professors did not acknowledge what even the Malay rulers had spoken up about.
“So don’t blame the non-Muslims for not understanding and accepting Najib’s wasatiyyah.
“We all live in fear of the country turning into a Somali version of an Islamic state. Our fears are fully justified.
“The prime minister is simply not a moderate leader. His wasatiyyah is not moderate either, whether by Islamic or non-Islamic standards.”