On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

Use your head, not your heart

Raw emotions were displayed at the meeting between Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and the residents yesterday.

The emotionally-charged meeting turned ugly when some residents reportedly shouted profanities and even tried to throw chairs and shoes at the Mentri Besar.

Insults were hurled and insensitive remarks were made by those present, which shocked the Selangor elected representatives and pressmen.

The Aug 28 protest by about 50 people who marched from the state mosque to the state secretariat building to oppose the relocation of the 150-year-old Maha Mariamman temple from Section 19 to Section 23 has now become international news.

It would have been just an ordinary demonstration if the protestors had not paraded the head of a cow, an animal deemed sacred by the Hindus, and placed it at the state secretariat building.

The residents’ action committee has denied any involvement in insulting a religious symbol, saying the cow’s head was symbolic of the state government’s stupidity.

It is unlikely that their defence, if not excuse, would be accepted.

They could have just stopped those who brought the cow’s head and led the parade; but they didn’t. Or they failed, if their argument is to be used.

Never mind if the cow’s head was used to insult the state government. They simply didn’t use their head to think it over because the protest was over a Hindu temple. To use a cow’s head was sheer stupidity.

It has now put the Government in a fix. Police have interviewed over 70 people and have submitted their report to the Attorney-General for a decision.

The AG has sent the report back to the police asking for more details.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein has given his assurance that no one is above the law.

He has said clearly that those who brought the cow’s head should be hauled to court, and that the action should not be tolerated as the cow is considered sacred in certain religions.

Hishammuddin said the ministry viewed seriously issues that could undermine the harmony, national security and stability of multi-racial Malaysia.

It is important that such reassuring statements are made by our leaders because no one should give the impression, not even the slightest one, that such seditious actions are tolerated.

If they are allowed to get away with it, then the whole mission of 1Malaysia would be jeopardised.

The Government must not let one group hijack what they are trying to do for a better Malaysia.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak sent a clear message when he said Muslims should refrain from condemning or insulting other religions and their believers.

Follow the true Islamic teachings of showing respect, he said.

He added that Prophet Muhammad allowed believers of other religions to practise their creeds and forbade his followers from going against them. The Prophet guaranteed the rights of the minorities under the Medina Constitution.

In fact, Muslims are obligated to protect and honour any house of worship that is dedicated to God, even if it is a church, temple or a synagogue.

Any attempt to prevent the followers of any other faith from worshipping God, according to their own rights, is condemned in the Quran as sacrilege.

The history of the Islamic empires shows that in dominant Muslim societies, people of other faiths were allowed to flourish.

On The Beat by WONG CHUN WAI

Just study the history of the Moghul Empire in India where there are huge numbers of Hindus and temples.

In Baghdad, under the Abbasid Khalifahs, the Jews and Christians enjoyed the freedom of religion that they never allowed for each other.

These historical facts are well documented and any student of basic Islam would learn about the tolerance showed by true followers of the faith.

The religious rights of minorities must never be ignored. Muslims in some European countries, for example, have found themselves being discriminated against when it comes to building mosques because of opposition from Christian residents in some areas.

In May, about 250 people protested against the Attakwa mosque in a Belgian neighbourhood and in 2007, Germans staged a protest during the opening of a mosque in Berlin.

In contrast, a massive mosque stands on Nathan Road in Kowloon even though the area is predominantly Chinese. It is accepted and even promoted as a tourist destination. And rightly so too.

Muslims may be minorities in these places but they have the right to worship. Any place where people gather to honour God is always good.

Closer to home, Penang Island is predominantly Chinese but Mesjid Kapitan Keling sits majestically in George Town. It is the pride of not just the Muslims but Penangites of other faiths.

We have to be careful when we use terms like “majority” and “minority” because Malay­sia is a multi-racial country where one community would outnumer another in some areas.

Malaysia must encourage more multi-racial neighbourhoods like Subang Jaya in Selangor.

Enclaves with one race sometimes breed intolerance and the voice of a noisy and demanding minority can sometimes drown those of a moderate majority.

Moderate Malaysians must rise to the occasion as the world is watching how we are handling the the cow-head protest.

We have no place for hot-headed people who invoke God’s name with no understanding of tolerance and peace. Let’s use our head.