Prosecute Islamofascist vigilante squads now

JUNE 1 — Only three days after the blessed day on which Barisan Nasional was unseated, a tragedy occurred in Indonesia. A family of six (including their four children, the oldest of whom was 19) organised three separate terrorist attacks against churches in Surabaya.

Apparently, they had just returned from Syria bringing with them terrorist ideas. Has Malaysia reached this level? I believe it has already happened although the previous government denied it at the time perhaps for fear of causing panic but let’s assume not.

So while we have possibly not reached Indonesia’s level of violence just yet, we are certainly on the way. In this month of Ramadan, we find that Islamofascist vigilante squads are on the prowl again causing great inconvenience to all and sundry.

Their twisted conception of "enjoining the recognised and forbidding the unrecognised" (amr bil ma’ruf wa naha an al-munkar) has led them to believe they are actually acting in the name of Islam.

The first of these is now infamous Badar Squad. They have been causing chaos since at least 2017 when a viralled video showed them conducting a raid on a cybercafe.

During that raid, they demanded that Muslim patrons leave to attend Friday prayers. This is their perverted way of nurturing faith, I imagine.

Now, they are back to their old tricks by raiding a food stall in Bandar Seri Astana in Sungai Petani, Kedah which happens to be the location of their headquarters.

In the video, they are seen to be raiding the stall and demanding why they are selling food to a customer who happened to stop by in a lorry. The cameraman seems to be very accusatory towards the stallholders.

All in all, it has a very Taliban-like feel, as if Malaysia is ruled by these fascist squads who in reality have no power whatsoever.

I would not be surprised if it escaped their thinking that food preparation takes time, especially if one is doing so for commercial purposes. Of course they have to start even earlier, before patrons come to their establishments. Similarly, customers are usually workers who cannot be expected to come at “allowed times.”

A lorry driver would possibly need to be on the road when he is supposed to be buying food. He would probably need to stop somewhere to break fast later on. Do these mitigating circumstances occur to our self-styled moral policemen? Apparently not.

As if that was not enough, we now have another one of these squads raiding shops which sell alcohol. The incident occurred in Manjoi, Perak where a group of 10 men raided a mini market and demanded they remove bottles of alcohol so they would not be on the shop floor. According to a news portal, this group is called Jabat and they have links to PAS (no surprise there, surely!).

The Perak state government was a little slow to read to this report. The chief of Amanah in Perak first said that there was no need for Jabat to do this. Commendable but hardly enough. Finally we now learn that the police are investigating the matter. Let us hope that their investigation will lead to criminal conviction.

We live in a multiracial and multireligious society and have no room for Islamofascist vigilantism. For a start, they are not helping Muslims increase their faith. If anything, they are increasing their annoyance which may then be misdirected at Islam itself.

That would be most ironic as the action of these squads is antithetical to the faith. Furthermore, they are encroaching the rights of non-Muslims who may wish to consume non-halal products. This is their right which is guaranteed by the Constitution.

Freedom of religion includes freedom of choice to consume anything allowed by that religion! And finally, giving them a taste of these acts of soft terror will also whet their appetites for actual violence later on. We need to nip this in the bud.

Hearteningly, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said that there will be a committee to review the role of Jakim so as to soften their image and make them more compassionate. Bravo!

But apart from Jakim, these Islamofascist squads need to be prosecuted and made examples. Only then can everyone see that one cannot contravene the law no matter what one’s intentions. 

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.