Are we headed for a Malaysian apartheid?

DECEMBER 4 ― A few days ago, Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan issued a statement that made me uncomfortable.

According to an article published on Malay Mail Online, a programme for congregational Subuh prayers will be carried out for students in Putrajaya next year.

While it isn't compulsory, Ku Nan encouraged youth to participate in it so that Muslims can show the strength of the ummah and “scare” the Christians and Jews.

Don’t get me wrong. I am in full support of Subuh congregational prayers and encouraging the youth to participate in them, but not for that reason.

There are many positive effects in performing congregational prayers at dawn. Fighting one’s languidness in the morning for the purpose of God strengthens one's spiritually. Congregational prayers can also promote the spirit of brotherhood among Muslims and is used as a social platform for co-operation among Muslims. It creates familiarity among individuals and unites the ummah.

Ku Nan could have emphasised on unity among Muslims, but out of all the things he could have said, he chose to promote the idea of “us vs. them.”

When Nelson Mandela died two years ago, the whole world mourned for him. He had spent his life fighting against apartheid and was seen as an international hero to many. His story is an inspiration and a reminder of the importance of togetherness and unity, and the hard journey one has to take to achieve it. But sadly, not all of us learn from history.

What we are experiencing in Malaysia is almost no different from apartheid. While it was racial segregation in South Africa, in our country, we are experiencing religious segregation.

There are too many instances where non-Muslims are being made to feel like they are less than Muslims and it is disheartening to know that our politicians are sometimes the ones backing up these discriminating claims and policies.

Can you really blame the West for rising Islamophobia when Muslim countries like ours are teaching Muslim citizens to see people of other faiths as enemies? How do we convince the world that we are a religion of peace when we preach division and hate?

I have said this before, and I will say it again: It is not enough to only say that you are against violence. You have to act upon it too. And by that, I don’t just mean physical violence.

Malaysia is a multi-racial and multi-religious country, but it is with a heavy heart that I say we are not in harmony.

The youth of our generation will grow up to lead the country someday, and it scares me to think that statements made in the same nature as Ku Nan’s will be heeded by them.

There are people out there who have risked their lives trying to unite the people. I am sincerely sorry that we have failed to continue your legacy. However, a lot of us are still trying.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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