The Rising Tide of the Malaysian Taliban

The Taliban ruled Afghanistan between 1996 and 2001. During its rule, the Taliban gained international notoriety for their violation of human rights. The Taliban saw fit to govern every facet of a civilian’s life.

Women had it worse than anyone else.

Women were banned from working outside of their homes. Women were banned from being treated by male doctors. Women were denied education in schools, universities or any other educational institutions. Women were banned from wearing high heels. Women were banned from appearing on the balconies of their own homes. Women were abused and whipped for not being clothed according to Taliban rules. Women were stoned to death for having sex outside of marriage.

Men were not spared, though the Taliban’s control of their lives was not to the same degree as women.

Men were required to wear Islamic clothes and a cap. Men were not allowed to shave or trim their beards. All male students were required to wear turbans.

Apart from gender specific rules, everyone was banned from listening to music. Everyone was banned from watching films. Everyone was banned from playing “un-islamic” games. Anyone who possessed objectionable literature was executed. Anyone who committed apostasy was executed. No one was allowed to even use the internet.

In short, there was no freedom under Taliban rule.

In another part of the world, a similar picture of oppression is being painted.

Again, the Muslim women in this part of the world are the target.

Menstruating Muslim women are forbidden from being in a mosque. Muslim women are prohibited from shaving their heads bald, except for the purpose of medical treatment. Muslim tomboys or lesbians are forbidden because they are considered contradictory to nature and “sunnatullah” (God’s laws).

The greater public in this part of the world are also subject to various rules.

Muslims are prohibited from smoking because it is harmful. Muslims are prohibited from smoking or selling Shisha, because it is against the teachings of Islam. Muslim men are prohibited from wearing white gold. Muslims cannot listen to Black Metal music because it is deviatory and contradicts the true teachings of Islam. Muslims are prohibited from participating in candlelight vigils as it contains elements of similitude (“tasyabbuh”) with religions other than Islam that can affect the creed of the Muslims. Muslims must conform to guidelines when participating in the religious celebrations of Non-Muslims. Non-Muslims cannot use the word “Allah” because it is apparently a sacred word specific only to the religion and followers of Islam and cannot be used or made to be similar with religions other than Islam. One parent is allowed to unilaterally convert a child’s religion (only into Islam, obviously) without the consent of the other parent.

Most recently in this part of the world, four Muslim women were forced to withdraw from a beauty pageant because Muslim women are banned from participating in beauty pageants, and another Muslim woman was arrested because she posted a video about her dogs that the religious authorities deemed offensive and insulting.

This part of the world is Malaysia.

In Malaysia, the authorities are radical. The authorities deny reason. The authorities take scriptural text literally. The authorities are oblivious to human rights. The authorities have no respect of basic freedoms and international norms. The authorities have an irrepressible need to control a woman’s body. The authorities are racially and religiously chauvinistic. The authorities abhor dissent.

These are the authorities that have participated in and are responsible for this systematic oppression of human rights: The Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM – Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia), the State Islamic Authorities, the Royal Malaysian Police, the Attorney General’s Chambers and the Ministry of Home Affairs.

In the midst of the continued massacre of the rights of Malaysians, we expect moderate and reasonable fellow Malaysians, our society’s leaders and independent institutions, to stand and speak up against these public authorities. But these people are so afraid of facing the repercussions from these zealots that they decide to turn the other cheek, as it does not really concern them.

To justify their actions, these authorities claim to represent the will of the “silent majority” though there is no evidence that this “silent majority” even exists. These authorities claim to be democratically elected, though most of them were appointed. These authorities claim to act within constitutional boundaries, though their acts are unconstitutional.

The authorities can make these claims, or call themselves whatever they want, but it is time for us to call these public authorities what they ought to be called – The Malaysian Taliban.

It should be obvious to all right-thinking Malaysians that the Malaysian Taliban have gone too far, and that we cannot rely on our authorities or government to stem this insidious tide (for they themselves are part of the Malaysian Taliban). The question is – how much longer are we going to stand by and watch silently as the tide advances? Hopefully we do not wait for it to flood and wash over all of us before we gather the courage to speak up.

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SYNew is a humourist who is currently practicing law. Unfortunately for him, not everyone appreciates humour, especially judges. He suffers from a bad case of cacoethes scribendi and he is here to relief his itch. Trying to tweet @S_Y_New

Posted on 6 August 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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