On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

No room for religious zealots

When the news first broke out that the  group was involved in a standoff with
the  police and army, there were those
who refused to believe it, dismissing it as a “mere  decoy operation''.

On July 6, One DAP politician issued a 
statement asking whether the police and 
army  “are tied up in the Bukit
Jenalik operation''.

As it dawned on them that a real fight was 
on hand, there were suggestions, implicit or  otherwise, that the crisis was planned,
like  the Hollywood movie “Wag The Dog''
about  a politician who created a rescue
situation to  boost his popularity.

On Thursday, a Parti Keadilan Nasional 
leader even said: “It is not clear whether the  two non-Muslim security officers were
actually murdered in such a gruesome manner 
as reported in the media.''

He continued: “even if they were, the motive has not been established. It is
wrong to  conclude it was because they
were non-Muslims.''

The tone of such statements has become 
the standard line on the Internet, particularly one news website which
continues to run  letters filled with
such insinuations.

Various excuses have been made to justify 
the action of these murderers, including that   it was a desperate attempt against the
Governmment in a seemingly stifled political 

The partisan politics adopted by some to 
take advantage of the tragedy to score political points is highly

Their anti-government sentiments should 
not be allowed to cloud their judgments of  such terrorist groups.

The head of policeman R.Sagadevan was 
blown off while Ranger Mathew anak Medan 
had his legs shot to pieces and yet we are  casting aspersions, asking whether these  tortures really took place.

Interviews with immediate families of the 
followers revealed that they had spoken 
about “re-uniting'' with them in heaven and  their rights to take away the lives of
“non  believers''.

It is the height of irresponsibility when 
politicians, who talk about justice, compassion and human rights
unashamely, raise  suspicions  to arouse hatred.

We can challenged the actions of the Government, even the manner it handled its
security system.

But let's not get too carried away with our 
accusations and recriminations.

It will be a tragedy, if some of us, with a  quarrel to pick with the Government,
unwittingly encourage these fanatics.

Let's not lose sight of the real issue 
a  band of dangerous and unstable
people staging an arms heist, taking away two innocent  lives and preaching hatred.

We can have our different political inclinations but  no one must condone the violence committed by
Amin Razali and his followers.

In all fairness to PAS, it is unlikely that 
the party leadership is fully aware of the activities of all its

It has distanced itself from the group, insisting that cult movements
associated with  killings, are the
antithesis of PAS.

Still, at least one of the 27 followers was a 
PAS Youth leader while one of the vehicles  used by the gang reportedly carried PAS  flags and documents.

But this is not enough to implicate the Islamist party.

PAS president Datuk Fadzil Noor has refused to conduct any internal probe,
which  he ought to reconsider in the
midst of the  controversy.

If Al Ma'unah followers have been detected in the police, army and civil
service, how  can Fadzil guarantee that
there are none in  PAS.

Last week, Singapore's Straits Times reported that during the party's general
assembly in Terengganu, posters of Ibrahim 
Libya were openly sold.

The Memali incident in Kedah, which occured in November 1985, saw 18 people,
including four policemen, killed in a violent 
clash between security forces and followers  of Ibrahim Mahmud, known as Ibrahim Yahya.

The newspaper wrote “that not everyone, 
though, is prepared to buy the PAS line or  believe that the party will not attempt
to  score political points by praising
the Al  Ma'unah gang members as freedom

The newspaper may be judgemental in its 
report but it reflects the perception of many  Malaysians, particularly non-Muslims,
that  PAS needs to do more than just
expressing  its sadness over the incident
and distancing  itself from Al

Surely a commitment by Fadzil to flush 
out Al Ma'unah misfits, if there are any in  PAS, would be reassuring to many, including  its allies in the opposition front.

It is thus commendable on the part of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah
Ahmad Badawi to propose sitting down with 
PAS to discuss curbing deviationist movements in the country.

The proposed White Paper, when it is tabled in Parliament, would certainly
shed  more light on the activities of the

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri 
Dr Mahathir Mohamad is also expected to 
reveal more details over television.

But what is more important is that Malaysians, who consider themselves rational
and  right thinking, should condemn acts
of terrorism and murder.

The real heroes are those who have sacrificied their lives in defending the
country to  make it safe for us and our

It is not those who preach violence, go on a 
path of destruction and killing innocent lives  in the name of God.

Let us be honest and bold enough to go beyond petty politics and personal

Wake up, Malaysians, there is no place for 
religious zealots in this country.