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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Missing The Forest For The Trees

Malaysiakini on 21st December has quoted Deputy Internal Security Minister, Johari Baharum as declaring that : Only Muslims can use 'Allah'. Needless to say there's been a whole deluge of responses from all angles. Check here for both past and present comments "In the name of Allah".

Debating and cracking our heads over language roots, history and such terminology may be good, but let's be aware of the danger of "missing the forest for the trees" - by paying too much attention to details and failing to understand the general situation. And what is the "general situation?"

Among others, merely:

1. that there is actually such a thing as the "annual printing permit" in the first place - in a "democracy" and which is under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Home Affairs, which has the clout of such laws as the Internal Security Act, of which Johari Baharum is its Deputy Minister;

2. that if indeed true that 'Allah' being the offending word, why couldn't Johari give a proper reason as to why the entire Bahasa Malaysia section in the Catholic Herald had to go before the printing permit would be renewed?;

3. given the fact that the Herald has been consistently vocal in social justice issues in the country, carried reports about the Bersih and Hindraf rallies in its front page stories and that more and more suspiciously, this looks more like another attempt to muzzle dissent? Like what happened to Harakah, and the Rocket before?

4. that Indonesia, home of the largest Muslim population in the world, allows the term "Allah" to be used freely by both Muslims and Christians alike without problems.

Lastly, in the words of Edward R. Murrow, renowned broadcast journalist:

"No one can terrorize a whole nation, unless we are all his accomplices".

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