Malaysia is slowly embracing religious totalitarianism that soon would engulf not just the political, public dimension but also controls on how people should think, feel, believe (or lack thereof) or whom they can fall in love with. Here in Malaysia, the troubles and heats that human rights activist had to bear are mostly from the ultra-conservative orthodox religious communities; especially from the altered version of Syafi'e Sunni Islam that are being practiced by majority of muslim in Malaysia. This Sunni Islam is rigidly and closely controlled by the patriarchal-misogynistic, fascistic government and authorities that rules the society with a totalitarian module. The problem with controlled mainstream Islam in Malaysia, and especially the one propagated within Peninsular Malaysia is that it is an altered version of the Shafi'i madzhab with the government assuming control and deviating from the fundamental values of syafi'ie school within Ahlul Sunnah Wal Jamaah or even having humanistic values within it. They are only frameworks of laws, punishments without the spirituality, empathy nor humanity. The religion is being exploited heavily in Malaysia by the people above the societal hierarchy that possesses status, power, money, religious knowledge, authority and influence. Most are men that hides behind the cloak of faith; proudly shove on other's face of their alliance to God and Race (rallying support from the like-minded audiences that are both absolute theocratic and/or ethno-nationalistic); demanding respect of their powers, and their alleged special rights. Raiding & more raiding Recently, on the evening of 3rd April 2016, the Malaysian transgender community who hosted and held a dinner and beauty contest for the trans women community recently were raided by Malaysian religious authorities, The Federal Territories Islamic Department (JAWI) without any warrant issued. The religious authorities gatecrashed the closed-door dinner event without police personnel accompanying them on the grounds that it violated a fatwa against beauty pageants that were gazette for the Muslim women. There were 10 religious authorities with few people from the media that came, and forced captured the transgender organizer, Ira Sophia, as well as lawyer-turned activist Siti Kasim. Aside from this appalling unwarranted unethical raiding done by the so-called religious authorities, 7 days later after the incident that the trans women and Siti Kasim had endured; another similar incident happened whence the Selangor religious authorities (JAIS) raided the family home of actress Faye Kusairi in the dead of morning hours at 2.30am. Apparently having tipped by the "neighbors" suspecting Faye committing "khalwat", the offence of being in close proximity with any forbidden member of the opposite sex in Islamic Shariah law.
The complaint was proven to be false when it turns out Faye was not even at the residence, she was with a female friend at another house and those who had to face the wrath of JAIS were her father, mother and brother. Their house was broken into by JAIS officers; the door grill was smashed. These two are just recently prominent examples of a long list of raiding done by the religious authorities in Malaysia. While Malaysian are fighting against such law and abuses of human rights, the government however have another plan when recently it was announced that the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) is placing two officers and a sergeant at the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) to assist the department in Shariah law enforcement starting from May 1st 2016. Malaysia Islamic Development Department director-general (JAKIM) Datuk Othman Mustapha said the trial project would be implemented for a year and see how it goes.
"Issues that threaten the Islamic religious faith such as Shiah & deviant teachings, conflicts over Shariah law, social ills and the question of rights to freedom have become increasingly complex. Therefore, professional support and services from PDRM personnel to assist JAIS' enforcement machinery in handling Shariah cases are critical and timely," he said at a press conference after the handing-over of the three PDRM personnel to Jais for the trial project, here, today.
We hope this cooperation between PDRM and JAIS can be strengthened and extended to the Islamic religious department of other states in future."
"This placement idea was mooted by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as the Home Minister in 2013," he added. This development is troubling since the infallible, unquestionable stance of religion in Malaysia is well known & going against religion, religious laws, fatwas that are endorsed by the government is considered as a high treason, blasphemous and could land one in rehabilitation center, be tried at court or land themselves in jail. (While death sentence is not done in Malaysia by law, the religious zealots in Malaysia do holistically threaten those who cross them with death, rape threat online or offline) Continuous Persecution It is well known that Malaysian government opposes & uses LGBT minorities in Malaysia as scapegoat, but the grasp of fascism already choking the targeted vulnerable marginalized minorities in Malaysia. Being targeted by the systematic oppression and discrimination, or have their rights swept under & ignored; Women have their clothing choice policed, their rights & presence are slowly pushed to slow erasure, only to be confined at home as "homemaker" & should be subservient to the husband, people of other faith have their belief controlled or discriminated, the heat of oppression reaches the immigrants, aborigines proselytized,the orphans had their supports swindled, people with disabilities & mentally distressed manipulated, HIV stricken & LGBT community being horribly vilified.
What worse is that religion seems to only be fueling the hatred, bigotry, prejudice and ignorance among the increasingly religious-centric, ethno-nationalistic, ultra-conservatives Muslim Malays majority in Malaysia. In conclusion, the demand for Muslim to re-study, understands & empathize with their fellow human, especially the marginalized community supposed to be in top priority, and the push for secularism that benefits all should be a priority. Remember that the knowledge that we possesses are just drop of an infinite ocean of knowledge & there's so much for us to learn from each other.
Crowdsourcing the struggle for human rights. Be part of the solution at Movements.org. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the views of Movements.