Religious extremism: View of an East Malaysian Muslim

The recent upsurge of religious extremists movement in Malaysia looks like planned and strategised in subtle way, and one wonders if the country is turning into a breeding ground for the groups.
Religious extremists boast their struggles using NGOs as shields, under the pretext of "Islamic struggles". Ordinary citizens, especially non-Muslims, feel intimidated by their extreme, sometimes seditious remarks, which makes walking on Malaysian streets uncomfortable. The media too can be blamed for their aptness in sensationalising the issue of race and religions. Had they not given coverage, there is no way they could be where they are now.

When we talk about religion, there is a different perception among people in Sabah compared with Malaysians in the peninsula. Majority of Sabahans don’t share sympathy about the plight of Muslims from southern Philippines as they had experienced hell for the last fifty years or so, no matter what Tun Dr Mahathir said on the Project M.

Labour might be cheap because of their presence but the overall quality of life of Malaysians has declined, because those who migrated to Sabah were poorer than Sabahans, some were even criminals or escapees from prisons.

The biggest threat now economically in Sabah is not the Filipinos but those newly arrived from Celebes Island. There are 17 million in the crowded Celebes Island who look at Sabah as gold mine. My point is that Malaysia's religious extremists are all based in the peninsula, at the very nose of the people in power, and as such there is this suspicion for their inaction. We notice many extremists were the offshoots of Umno, which is why they are untouchable, such as Ibrahim Ali, the president of Perkasa.

We have heard such statements as "if you don’t like Malaysia go back to China" or "go back to India" or wherever. This kind of saying hurts. Malaysians in Sabah don’t share this view and can’t stomach it. Religion isn’t the only line of connection. Blood connection has always been thicker here. I have in fact written this phrase time and times again, as a Muslim I am disgusted because of the behaviour of my fellow Muslims.
If they, the extremists in the peninsula, can say to their neighbours next door, what about us, who are thousand miles away and as such so much less significant to them. Only a matter of time this same people would tell us to go back to Borneo. If that is the case, we ought to be thinking of doing something before it’s too late.

Among the most notable leaders now is a Muslim educated from a reputable Islamic institution Al Azhar University, Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman, who has been behaving like a graduate of Boko Haram. But of course Egypt is no longer a suitable place to seek knowledge. I wouldn’t recommend. Malaysia should stop sending students to this part of the world. If the taste of pudding is in the eating, then we have had it. Don’t waste public money. If patriotism is what the government is for, they may not getting it all. Instead, some came back as religious bigots.

This reminds me of a TV discussion a few years back on why Christians in East Malaysia can use the word "Allah" but not in West Malaysia. The answer from one NGO leader was that it’s all right for East Malaysia to use "Allah", but it is not proper for Muslims in West Malaysia to allow Christians to use it. When asked why, he simply said, "Not proper". My question: Is he implying that Muslims in Sabah and Sarawak are not proper? – May 15, 2014.

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