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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

‘Calling for a crusade is wrong’

Sulaiman Kamal | 4:15 PM | Best Blogger Tips

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Khir Toyo says that Perkasa sometimes goes overboard while DAP urges the government to throw the book at Ibrahim Ali.

PETALING JAYA: Another voice of reason has spoken up against the rantings of Ibrahim Ali, the Perkasa chief.
Selangor opposition leader, Mohamed Khir Toyo, said Ibrahim’s call for a crusade against the Christians was wrong because as Malaysians, “the peace of our country should be placed first”.
Khir was commenting on Ibrahim’s speech yesterday that he was willing to stage a crusade against the Christians if they continued to challenge Islam’s position in the country.
“To (insinuate) to go to war is not right. Creating tension among (the different) religions and races in Malaysia is not right. We are (all) Malaysians. We must protect our country first,” he told FMT .
“Perkasa sometimes go overboard; it does not know it is not right.” he added.
Utusan Malaysia recently claimed that the DAP government in Penang, together with Christian leaders, was conspiring to replace Islam as the official religion and to install a Christian prime minister.
The Utusan report was based on two blog posts. Both the DAP and the Christian leaders have denied the allegation.
Police are currently investigating the matter. The home ministry also announced last Thursday that Utusan has been given a warning over the article, a move some said was too light a punishment.
Freedom of speech
Ibrahim in his speech had accused the Christians of questioning the sovereignty and dignity of Malays and Muslims.
Khir, however, defended Ibrahim’s right to voice his opinion.
“It is freedom of speech. He is entitled to his own opinion. This is the direction that we are heading towards with a burgeoning social media. We cannot stop people from talking. The government cannot stop people from talking.” he said.
But he said that opinions need to be voiced in a certain manner. “The manner in which you say your opinion is important. I raise my opinions in my blog and although that is my personal view, it is substantiated with feedback from the grassroots,” he said.
Khir added that it was the responsibility of the government and political parties to help the people on the ground understand the Federal Constitution better.
“According to the Federal Constitution, Islam is the constitutional religion and other religions can practise their faith. I don’t see any problem with that. The government and other political parties need to explain this to the people on the ground to create an understanding of this,” he said.
Khir has been vocal in his blogs regarding the Pro-Malay issues propagated by Utusan lately.
On the “Christian Malaysia” plot, he had commented last week that that he believed “it was impossible” but took swipes at the DAP, saying that the party would look for any opportunity to “reap political benefit from ethnic and religious conflict”.
Meanwhile, the DAP today criticised the government for not throwing the book at Ibrahim.
Its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the government’s inaction against the right-wing movement only proved that Perkasa was nothing more than Umno’s alter-ego.
“In the past, Ibrahim had declared his loyalty to Umno in his meetings with Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and yesterday, he launched a crusade against the Christians.
“He made this threat at an event attended by Gombak Umno chief Abdul Rahman Kamaruddin, his deputy Abdul Aziz Jantan and division information chief Ismail Ahman.
“How much more evidence do we need to show that Umno and Perkasa are one and the same?” asked Lim.
Stern action
Lim, the Penang chief minister, said the home ministry’s failure to take stern action against Utusan had provided extremists like Ibrahim to take advantage of the situation for his own agenda.
“Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein even refused to brand Ibrahim as an extremist though the latter had called for a crusade against Christians.
“Just imagine if any Christian had called for a crusade against the Muslims, he or she would have been arrested immediately,” said Lim.
Yesterday, Hishammuddin refused to brand Ibrahim as a fanatic and shrugged off  his inflammatory speech by saying it does not reflect the views of the Malay majority.
Taking a swipe at Umno’s coalition partners, Lim said that it was meaningless for MCA and Gerakan leaders to issue statements on Ibrahim in non-Malay dailies as it was clear that no action would be taken against him.
“Besides, no Gerakan or MCA ministers have dared to press the Cabinet to act firmly against racists and extremists seeking to burn the 1Malaysia concept with dangerous lies,” he said.
A  little known  NGO, Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (Aman), that represents 200 Indians, has also got into the act by lodging a   police report at Sentul police station against Ibrahim.
Aman secretary-general S Barathidasan said Ibrahim’s statement is creating racial tensions in the country.
“We want Ibrahim detained under Section 4 of the Sedition Act for stoking religious tensions,” Barathidasan said.
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