January 10, 2010

In Malaysia, Christian churches are firebombed after courts say that Christians have a right to use the name "Allah" to mean their God.

The NYT reports:
The line between race and religion is blurred in a country where the Constitution equates Muslim and Malay identities, said Jacqueline Ann Surin, editor of The Nut Graph, an analytical Malaysian news site that covers political Islam extensively.

“Malaysia is peculiar in that we have race-based politics and over the past decade or so we have seen an escalation of this notion that Malay Malaysians are superior,” she said. “That has been most apparent from consistent attempts by the U.M.N.O. leadership to promote the notion of ‘ketuanan Melayu,’ or Malay supremacy or dominance.” The United Malays National Organization is the full name of the governing party.

“So it’s a logical progression that if the Malay is considered superior by the state to all others in Malaysia, then Islam will also be deemed superior to other religions,” she said.

20 comments:

rhhardin said...

They would correspond to our Democrats.

HKatz said...

"... many Muslims here insist that the word belongs exclusively to them and say that its use by other faiths could confuse Muslim worshipers."

They don't think much about the intelligence of their worshipers, I guess.

And I guess they don't feel that acts of fire-bombing might confuse/perturb/disturb anyone.

Still wrapping my mind around the notion of "the word belongs exclusively to them". Utter control - of the mind, of the thoughts. It's frightening to behold. And at the same time seems to betray a great deal of insecurity.

Oxbay said...

Mohammed knew he was making it up as he went along. Hence, Islam is very insecure. That's why Muslims are Islamosupremacists. Any breath of any idea that questions Islam's superiority must be quashed. Sharing is not allowed.

Besides allah translates as "the god" not god.


wv: ballax: ballast made from bee hives

Quayle said...

Most every Christian church uses the word Allah when writing in, translating to, or speaking in Arabic, because Allah is merely the Arabic word for God.

Ah, but it isn't the Malay word for God, is it? So that makes it more of an issue, I suppose.

edutcher said...

These people are in bad need of a peaceful Reformation before somebody imposes a violent one on them.

OTOH, the Christians really ought to have better sense.

WV "cribling" A novice at reading exam notes during the exam.

Michael said...

Are Christians firebombing their own churches after they began calling God Allah? Odd that.

Scott said...

I lived and worked in Malaysia for 18 months in the early 90s, and went back to Kuala Lumpur for a visit in 2006 to see how things were. There is so much to enjoy about the country, and the Malay, Chinese, and Indian populations do get along with each other pretty well. But there is always an undercurrent of tension; and the Barisan Nasional (the coalition government of UMNO, MCA, and MIC racially-based parties) is extremely tetchy about anything that would spark another race riot like the ones in 1969. The media is aggressively censored to eliminate any news suggesting anything but perfect social and racial harmony. You can see the occasional story of the bloody car crash or a civil servant failing in their duties, but "government policy is never wrong".

Malaysia is living proof that the tyranny of the majority is a bad thing. Ethnic Malays are only slightly more than 50% of the population. To this, UMNO presumes to represent certain other groups, including indigenous people (Dyaks, Ibans, Orang Asli, etc.) and the remnants of the Portugese population left over from the first colonization; and use this to assemble a political majority of perhaps 62%. This UMNO majority, in collusion with the MIC and MCA, created an artificial group called the "Bumiputra" or "sons of the earth". The Bumiputra are priviledged with an aggressive affirmative-action-style social and economic policy designed primarily to benefit the interests of the Malays.

For Malays as a group, their social grievance is that the Chinese dominate the economy; that without Bumuputra preferences, Malays would get all the shitwork and never climb the economic ladder. Islam is tailor-made to reinforce this sense of perpetual oppression and entitlement among the Malays; an attitude which continues in spite of the fact that Malays now run every institution that is big and powerful in Malaysia.

The Chinese, which find themselves victims of their own success, play ball with UMNO through the MCA's partnership in the Barisan Nasional. At the same time, they seem to project Mafia-like qualities in the areas of the economy they dominate; particularly in the technical trades and commerce. Chinese New Year in many Asian countries is usually only a day or two off from work. In Malaysia, it comes off looking like a general strike, with your favorite shop being shuttered for a week or ten days; underscoring the point that nothing gets done in Malaysia without Chinese participation.

Fortunately, people have at least learned to work together. Malaysia keeps building new public infrastructure, new shopping centers, new resorts. The diversity of culture is wonderful to live in and appreciate on its own terms, and the people there generally do.

Malaysia always seems to be on the cusp of becoming a "developed" nation. But for it to cross the threshold, it needs to back away from its affirmative action policy toward the Bumiputra, and adopt a more secular government. Urban Malays in Kuala Lumpur seem ready for this, but the ones in the North and East are going to be slower to embrace it, if they do at all. Majorities tend to become comfortable in their tyrannies.

former law student said...

To this, UMNO presumes to represent certain other groups, including indigenous people (Dyaks, Ibans, Orang Asli, etc.)

While Peninsular Malays are Muslim, Malays in Borneo (Sabah and Sarawak) are most likely Catholic if they have a modern religion at all. Catholic churches do maintain a low profile.

Scott said...

The NYT is wrong:

"The tensions are shaking a multiethnic, multiracial state that has attempted to maintain harmony among its citizens: mostly Muslim Malays who make up 60 percent of the population..."

Malays do not make up 60% of the population. That would be Bumiputra; an artificial political group consisting of Malays + other groups added by the government to pad the majority. (See my previous post.)

Anwar Ibrahim is the most courageous politician in Malaysia's history. I hope he can mount a successful challenge to UMNO and break up the Barisan Nasional. But it's an uphill battle.

Scott said...

If you are a Malaysian citizen living on the peninsula, you need a passport to go to Sarawak and Sabah. In terms of the political life of the nation, the states might as well not exist.

Scott said...

And another thing: Why is "Bangkok" the dateline for a news story about Malaysia? Don't they have any correspondents in Kuala Lumpur?

Another tidbit: Malaysia Airlines discontinued their flights from Newark and Los Angeles to Kuala Lumpur late last year. There is now no way to get to KL from the USA without changing planes.

(I flew to KL from Newark on Malaysian in '06. The route flew East and refueled in Stockholm. Over the Andaman Sea, the 777 hit an air pocket and dropped perhaps five feet, sending unbelted passengers flying into the air. The guy sitting next to me was in the bathroom at the time. He said his head hit the ceiling.)

Rich V. said...

Well, obviously the religion of peace objects to this:

http://thevailspot.blogspot.com

Ironclad said...

The perverse part of this whole argument on the use of "Allah" is that the Malay Muslims claim that they are the last, perfect part of the chain of God's revelation starting with the Jews and passed through the Christians. So we are all "People of the Book" and all that Kum-ba-yah stuff, they just got the better translation.

So, if they are claiming that only they have the right to use the word "allah" to represent God, and other faiths do not; then they are effectively saying that the word is not the same entity. So their Allah is not the same one as the Christian one any more? Why isn't anyone saying "heresy" over that?

cookasia said...

RichV: Which religion of peace do you mean? Certainly not Islam. Do you know any other religious group that routinely shoots and bombs people?? Hmmmmm

Irene said...

Islam is . . .

Cedarford said...

Scott - "For Malays as a group, their social grievance is that the Chinese dominate the economy; that without Bumuputra preferences, Malays would get all the shitwork and never climb the economic ladder."

The story of SE Asia since the 50s has in large part been removing the Chinese as the economic and power elite they became under colonialization.
Thailand, Laos, Burma, Indonesia, the Philippines.
Much of the "boat people" phenomenon from S Vietnam was not people fleeing communism - but an ethnic Chinese elite losing their spots of economic and political privilege as the NVA swept in.
Mongolia found it necessary to purge CHinese when they became independent....and Chicommies face the same resentment in Tibet and the autonomous Muslim lands.

Same story elsewhere, of course. A minority gets too dominant of sectors of the economy and policy power, of professions, too arrogant, a privileged professional and landlord caste - eventually you have trouble.

Happened to the subcontinent Asians of Africa, Indians on Fiji,
the European aristocracy, the Jews of Europe.

One of the great hardly mentioned stories is the Jewish Bolsheviks tried dominating the new Soviet Union helped set up the apparatus of state terror, the White Sea canal slave labor and the gulags...only to lose out to ethnic Russians who demanded fairer proportionate power and positions to their numbers - starting in the late 20s. (It was largely a seamless transition as Stalin came in - same ideas, same instruments of terror and repression and liquidation criteria kept. And Jewish communists still had disproportionate clout. They just didn't call the shots like they did in the glory days).

And in India, speaking of caste, of course you had the resented Brahmins. NW to them, you had Moghuls who were not of the same ethnicity as their subjects.
Syria had its Alawite minority, Lebanon used to have it's Maronite minority with all the money and clout.

The US is entering a period where money and power are growingly dominated by Elites and organized special interest groups - and upward mobility sharply curtailed by the decision of the Elites back in Reagan's time to open up America to low-cost foreign labor.
Could we be headed to where Malaysia and Thailand were in the 60s as they saw no "rising tide lifting all boats" but drowning people, some dinghys, and a flotilla of the Chinese version of Goldman Sachs yachts?

Possibly.
Even if it is the milder version where all realize they must organize and demand their piece of a pie no longer getting bigger. (No increase in mean worker wage since 1980, Zero jobs created in the 00's, higher tax and debt burdens, but certain groups flourishing and getting far richer at the expense of non-organized, non-Elite Americans)

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William Dunigan said...

Greetings to one and all: In that most precious name. That name which is above every name, the name: "Jesus"

There's tremendous power in that name. I'd suppose we'll never fully realize all that can truly be accomplished, by us simply calling out that name in true faith.

There's an old, old, gospel song that goes like this: Faith in the Father, faith in the Son, faith in the Holy Spirit, great victories are won. Demons will tremble and sinners will awake, faith in Jehovah will anything shake.

For you who have never come into this realization, if you're reading this, just give him a welcome into your heart and life. You will both feel and see an awesome difference. You will have also purchased the ticket to heaven (by accepting, therefore making him welcome to come into your life. You will also sup from His cup that contains living water. (As did the woman at the well of Bethesda.) John 4:10

Much love,

Your brother in Christ Jesus, who is both our Lord, and Savior.

www.eloquentbooks.com/BeyondTheGoldenSunsetAndByTheCrystalSea.html
http://www.eloquentbooks.com/OffToVisitTheProphetElijah

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William Dunigan said...

Greetings to one and all: In that most precious name. That name which is above every name, the name: "Jesus"

There's tremendous power in that name. I'd suppose we'll never fully realize all that can truly be accomplished, by us simply calling out that name in true faith.

There's an old, old, gospel song that goes like this: Faith in the Father, faith in the Son, faith in the Holy Spirit, great victories are won. Demons will tremble and sinners will awake, faith in Jehovah will anything shake.

For you who have never come into this realization, if you're reading this, just give him a welcome into your heart and life. You will both feel and see an awesome difference. You will have also purchased the ticket to heaven (by accepting, therefore making him welcome to come into your life. You will also sup from His cup that contains living water. (As did the woman at the well of Bethesda.) John 4:10

Much love,

Your brother in Christ Jesus, who is both our Lord, and Savior.

www.eloquentbooks.com/BeyondTheGoldenSunsetAndByTheCrystalSea.html
http://www.eloquentbooks.com/OffToVisitTheProphetElijah