Muslim extremism divorced from Palestinian cause

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By P Ramasamy

I cannot agree more with the statement issued by Musa Mohd Nordin, Mohd Nazri Ismail and Hafidzi Mohd Noor (FMT – July 7, 2016) on the links between Islamic State (IS) and the Palestinian cause.

I further agree that the former IGP Musa Hassan should not have said that some Malaysians’ support for extreme Muslim causes (including the Islamic State) could be driven by their extreme concern for the Palestinian cause.

The Palestinian cause is of great concern to those who place importance on justice and human rights. Successive governments in Israel with the sanction of some superpowers, have deliberately failed to address the legitimate concerns of the Palestinians, especially their entitlement to a separate and independent state.

Unfortunately, the rise of extremist Islamic forces — first Al-Qaeda and later IS — with all their bravado and extremism have failed to address the concern of the Palestinians.

By targeting innocent Muslims and non-Muslims, outfits like IS, especially in the Middle-East, have failed miserably to address the just cause of freedom, justice and human rights of the Palestinians.

The Palestinian issue is nothing about race or religion, but it is about a community or race that has been deprived of a homeland in a territory that belongs to them.

The Israeli state has been vindictive and extremely cruel to the plight of the Palestinians. Numerous UN initiated peace talks have resulted in nothing for the future of the Palestinians.

It is sad that an organisation like the IS which has some popularity amongst the Muslims worldwide has refused to focus and address the plight of the Palestinians. It is more interested in achieving its dream of a Muslim Caliphate.

The price of achieving this dream seems to be predicated on furthering the divisions within Muslims and between Muslims and non-Muslims, especially those who are unfortunate victims of imperialism and neo-colonialism. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, Syrians and others have been killed as a result of the on-going sectarian warfare.

Saddam Hussein, Muhammed Gaddafi and many others were removed in the name of bringing democracy to the countries that they administered. But what was the result? The fight for democracy has created chaos and disorder in these societies that were managed by the so-called tyrants or dictators.

The minute that elements such as democracy, justice, and fairness are divorced from the so-called emancipatory movements whether they are Islamic or non-Islamic, then there is no progress or hope. This is what is happening in the world today.

In Malaysia, we may not have gone to the extreme yet. But surely, we must take note of the way race and religion are combined for political reasons, and issues that are pertinent to Malaysians are set aside.

It is the failure of governance that is providing a fertile soil for the possible emergence of extremist organisations. The need to table the Hudud bill and the extreme statements by some religious officials in the recent past might be treated as isolated events, but the political, social and cultural context cannot be overlooked.

And surely, the former IGP is not naive enough to suggest that the ‘popularity’ of IS amongst some sections of Malay Muslim society is related to the Palestinian issue.

Sorry to say, the Palestinian issue might be buried forever if no attempts are made to re-establish its salience in the present context of global politics.

P Ramasamy is Deputy Chief Minister II of Penang.

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