Monday, August 24, 2009

Condemn religious bigotry, not Islam

On August 24, independent news portal Malaysiakini reported that PAS Youth is calling for a ban on MLTR's (Michael Learns To Rock) concert this September - citing it as an insult towards Muslims in the country because it is held during the fasting month of Ramadhan

Firstly, I would like to clarify that this is not an attack on Islam. I have enough respect for my Muslim friends to honour their faith. What I am trying to convey here is my personal rejection towards religious bigotry of any kind - be it Christian, Buddhist, Taoist or etcetera. So I urge my fellow Malaysians not to attack the religion but the religious bigotry of PAS Youth.

The Danish band is scheduled to hold a concert in Genting Highlands on September 5 to promote their newest album, Eternity. With hit songs like Paint My Love and That's Why You Go, the biggest proportion of MLTR's global fandom is actually found in Malaysia.

On August 24, PAS Youth leader Nasrudin Hassan commented that the concert would be a "massive insult" to Muslims in the country who are currently fasting for Ramadhan. He also criticized the present government for giving Star Planet Sdn Bhd the green light to organise the event.[source].

To make things even more compelling, Nasruddin Hassan said he is not hesitant to rally Muslim youths around the country to hold mass protests against the concert. He is also calling for other Muslim NGOs in the country to make a stand against the issue, hoping to cleanse Malaysia from immorality and sin perpetrated by the UMNO/BN government.

"The concert is sure to bring about complacency and immorality among Muslims," Nasruddin Hassan was quoted saying. [Malaysiakini, 24/8/09]
My question is: Why not also ban the sale of cigarettes during the month of Ramadhan? I'm sure tar and nicotine can do more harm than a Danish ballad rock concert can!

If PAS Youth feels that the concert is not suitable for Muslims, then the most reasonable and practical thing to do is to advise Muslims to simply not attend the event. They should be considerate that there are also other Malaysians who do not observe the Ramadhan and would love to see their favourite band live. Has PAS Youth forgotten that Malaysia is not 100% Muslim?

Religious bigotry in Malaysia is not new. Recently, the issue of the sale of alcohol in Muslim-majority areas in Shah Alam has been heavily politicised by PAS Selangor and UMNO. The state administration's local government, research and development portfolio - currently held by executive council (exco) member Ronnie Liu was accused of "interfering in the matters of Islam" by PAS Selangor.

Liu recently intervened in a seizure of beer cans by the Shah Alam City Council from a shop in the city. Muslims in the country are already legally not allowed to purchase alcoholic beverages but PAS Selangor is demanding for a ban on the sale of alcohol in every Muslim-majority area. PAS Selangor believes that by doing so, Muslim youths would be protected from indulging in alcohol.

But it did not occur to them that if one really wants to get his/her fix, one can always drive somewhere else or quietly do it in their own room. PAS Selangor is also ignorant to the fact that many non-Muslim retail owners depend heavily on the sale of alcoholic beverages. Placing beer cans in shops is not an act of forcing nor encouraging Muslim youths to drink!

It is a fact that religious bigotry will always be a thorn in the flesh of progress and civil maturity and will also continue to plague our multi-cultural society. Thus, we as Malaysians must understand that while we may condemn the narrow-mindedness of certain religious bigots in the country, let us all also be sure not to condemn the religion.


  1. Jarod said...

    Its total crap for them to ban the group.

    What kind of insult do they bring with them? PAS youth have not even think about the challenge given to them during their fasting month, but tackle on issues that are pretty irrelevant.

    First the banning of Alcohol, now this.

    I doubt Nik Aziz would says that this group performing here is an insult. The youth need to learn from Nik Aziz.

  2. Muhammad Elijah said...

    All classical scholars of Islamic jurisprudence unanimously agree that sonngs with sexual themes are Haraam(Illegal in God's Law). Also, music is Haraam in Islam. There is no pick-and-choose in Islam.