Commentary by Mustafa K Anuar
MUHYIDDIN Yassin’s reported allegation that there might be an agenda by Jews and Christians in complicity with Pakatan Harapan to Christianise and colonise Malaysia has understandably shocked concerned Malaysians.
Not only has the former prime minister’s incendiary remarks at the hustings rattled the Christians in the country, but is also likely to raise alarm among Muslims, some of whom have already acquired a siege mentality.
Hate speech and fearmongering should cease. Otherwise, we might see the creation of more Zul Huzaimys in our midst.
Actor Zul Huzaimy recently expressed an intent to “slaughter infidels” at a rally in support of PAS.
Zul reportedly stoked sentiments of violence towards non-Muslims as well as advocating intolerance in our multi-ethnic and multi-religious society.
Although he has since extended an apology – after getting public backlash – and also is now being investigated by the police, such horrid expression should indicate to all concerned Malaysians that it does not sit well in a democratic setting and thus, condemnable.
In the run-up to polling day, we have seen hate and suspicion being fostered in certain political speeches and skewed analyses, which in turn, made their rounds on social media for the consumption of a bigger audience.
Singer Jamal Abdillah, for example, recently called on voters to reject DAP and Pakatan Harapan (PH) because he alleged that should PH form the government, tahfiz schools risked being closed down and there was a possibility of the azan (call to prayer) being restricted.
He eventually offered his apology to both DAP and PH for having slandered them based on hearsay.
Malaysians were also warned, for instance, by certain individuals and politicians that the Chinese-based DAP is Communist, ungodly and, in certain video clips, the party is said to be detrimental to the interests and well-being of the majority Malay community as well as Islam.
Such so-called warning is aimed at building a siege mentality among Malay-Muslims so that they only seek help and protection from – and vote for – politicians and parties that claim to be their saviour.
As intimated above, a vision of being under siege could have the potential of emboldening or provoking certain individuals within the community to cross the line of inciting violence against the Other.
Of course, two wrongs don’t make a right. DAP’s Nga Kor Ming made incendiary remarks that a vote for Perikatan Nasional (PN) would be like having the Taliban rule the country. That is stretching the imagination, and no less fearmongering.
Some, as a result, have taken on a holier-than-thou attitude so that the only way to salvation is to vote for a particular party that can also protect Malay-Muslims and Islam on earth.
Such a mindset seemed to have spurred Sik PAS Youth chief Shahiful Nasir to warn that those who voted for party coalitions other than PAS and PN, namely PH and Barisan Nasional, would go to hell. It appears that playing God can be part of a political strategy.
Freedom of expression is not meant to provide a platform for hate speech, much less one that promotes violence against fellow citizens. That is a gross abuse of free speech, which must be accompanied by responsibility.
In a diverse society such as ours, politicians and other political actors should avoid sowing hate or even inciting violence as a means of canvassing for electoral support from your own kind, which is as debased as it is diabolical.
Hating each other does not build a nation, especially at a time when a collective effort of diverse Malaysians is much needed to help make this beloved land of ours move forward. – November 19, 2022.