This Ramadan, a reminder of Islamisation

Published in Malay Mail Online

To paraphrase a friend, Islamisation is no longer creeping in this country. Instead, it is marching down the streets banging the drums, and at no time is it as obvious as Ramadan.

There is just something about the combo of a blessed holy month with millions of hangry adherents that brings out the self-righteous and judgmental ones.

It is undeniable that there is a shift of public sentiment this year, with more and more Muslims publicly saying that fasting is their burden of faith alone, and non-Muslims should not be subjected to the same restrictions in public.

But perhaps we are not there yet.

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Sabah quake: Superstition and statesmanship

Published in Malay Mail Online

The national discourse following the deadly earthquake in Sabah last week has been very painful.

The biggest tragedy should have been the death of 19 climbers on Mount Kinabalu from the quake, six of them schoolkids. Instead, we have to deal with foreign strippers and angry spirits.

Rationalists had a field day as several Sabahans turned to superstition as a way to cope with the tragedy.

Sabah deputy chief minister Joseph Pairin Kitingan got the ball rolling by claiming that a group of European tourists who stripped naked at the peak of Kinabalu was directly responsible for causing the quake which happened roughly a week after their “sacrilegious” act.

Pairin also claimed to have had a bad premonition after seeing a flight of swallows circling outside his house during breakfast the day of the quake.

A particular atrocious piece was carried a few days after by a local English news portal, claiming that a post-quake formation on the mountain resembled the face of Gunting Lagadan, the first Dusun man to climb it.

Another local English portal followed with a story of allegedly disembodied hands appearing on two photos taken at the mountain shortly after the quake.

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The Christian bogeyman is never out of style

Published in Malay Mail Online

Facing opposition for trying to implement the controversial hudud law in Kelantan, the clergy class in PAS has found a new bogeyman: the Chinese Christians.

During the muktamar, or annual congress of the party’s ulama wing on Wednesday, PAS’ Dr Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh blamed the alleged rise in anti-Islam sentiments on the growing number of ethnic Chinese who converted into Christianity.

According to Nik Zawawi, who is the wing’s newly-elected deputy chief, the ethnic Chinese had never been hostile about the increasing advances Islam made in the public sphere when many of them were Buddhists.

Because Buddhism is not a missionary religion, Nik Zawawi said.

Unlike Christianity, which he said, has clashed with Islam for ages. And now Islam is starting to spread its wings more and more, he claimed that this was bound to rile up the Christians.

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