Monday, December 3, 2007

Intolerant Malaysia, tolerant faith?

Intolerant Malaysia, tolerant faith?

Times of India
28 Nov 2007, 1136 hrs IST,

Tarun Vijay

When Hindus gathered courage and protested in an unprecedented solidarity on November 26 in Kuala Lumpur, they were crushed brutally by the Malay police using chemicals in the water cannons. None of those who had put up a united front against a cartoon created in Denmark felt anything bad or condemnable in the injustices meted out to the Hindus in an Islamic country. When it's a question of Hindus getting unfair treatment in a Muslim majority region, the 'civil, sophisticated and articulate' Muslim intellectuals take refuge in the statement that it's a matter concerning a foreign country. But when it's a question regarding a cartoon or a fatwa for beheading a writer, they say -we are a global Ummah, anything happening anywhere to Muslims is our common concern! All big lies and a bigger hypocrisy traded in the name of a religion.

This year Diwali was not celebrated openly by Malaysian Hindus in protest against the demolition of one of their most revered shrines, the hundred-year-old Maha Mariamman temple in Padang Jawa. In the last fifteen years, hundreds of Hindu temples have been demolished and the number of forcible conversions and unfair treatment on religious grounds has been constantly increasing. The tragic case of Revathi was just a recent one. Moorthy Maniam was a Malaysian Hindu hero. After he died, a group of Muslims claimed he'd made a deathbed conversion. Despite his widow's protests, the Sharia courts declared that he should be buried as a Muslim. “They used Moorthy to show that in this country, Islam is supreme", complained his lawyer.

In the 1980s, Malaysia's Sharia courts were given equal power to the civil courts, creating two parallel legal systems. But while the Sharia courts are constantly trying to extend their authority, secular courts are reluctant to challenge them. Malaysia which tries to woo Indian tourists with an aggressive media campaign claiming-it's a 'truly Asian' destination, has become a hotbed of Islamic intolerance and barbarities on non-Muslims. It has sixty per cent Muslim population with Chinese, mostly Buddhists, comprising twenty-five per cent. Malaysiana of Indian origin constitute about eight per cent and Tamil Hindus are ninety per cent amongst the Indian origin population.

There is a fair number of Indian Muslims too. Indian Malaysians were taken there by the British as plantation workers in the late nineteenth century and have now become an inseparable part of Malaysian life. In fact, from the second century to the 14th century, Malay Peninsula has seen Hindu kingdoms and a way of life beautifully expressed in arts, culture, language and Shaivite values. Sanskrit's influence over their language is visible all over, yet the Malay Muslims choose to express their affinity with the Arabs and deny their ancestral heritage. Politically, Indian-origin Malays follow the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), established in 1946 as an instrument of independence from the British rule.

Malaysia, freed in 1957, remained a practising pluralistic society till Islamic fundamentalism grew in the last two decades bringing Arab money and intolerance with it. Now it has parallel Islamic courts, functioning along with the civil ones, which are obviously more influential. Malaysian Hindus have their leader in Datuk Seri Samy Vellu, president of the MIC and a minister in the14-party coalition government who mustered courage to protest against temple demolitions by declaring a 'private' Diwali this year. However, instead of being supported by the country’s Muslim intelligentsia, he was booed, and in a rally addressed by Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, people demanded his ouster from the cabinet as a 'trouble maker'.

Hindus seems to be losing hope on all fronts and are making last-ditch efforts to attract attention by any which way to their sorry state of affairs. An umbrella organisation of thirty Hindu NGOs has been formed under the banner of Hindu Rights Action Force or HINDRAF that had called for the successful demonstration on November 26. Earlier a court had banned the rally – but HINDRAF workers – gathered in an unprecedented number – twenty thousand by a modest count –defied the ban and had their voice heard throughout the world.

A nation, which has seen centuries of Hindu influence nurturing its socio-cultural milieu, suddenly turned against her own people when Arab-Islamic influence grew, resulting in the dispossession of minority rights. It has tried now to completely eradicate its Hindu history being taught in the schools, including the descriptions regarding ancient Ganga Negara (2nd to 11th century), Langka Asuka(2nd to 14th century) and Sri Vijaya empire(3rd to 14th century) in different parts of the earlier greater Malay Peninsula.

It's a reflection of India's secular government that the Malaysian Hindus of Indian origin chose to knock at the British doors, strangely petitioning the British government, Malaysia's former colonial ruler, to pay two million dollars each to every Indian-origin Malay as compensation for 'putting them in a situation of darkness and exploitation' which was a result of bringing their ancestors as indentured labourers a century before. They are discriminated on religious grounds and economic opportunities are not available to them. "Over the years Indians have been marginalised in this country and we now want the same rights as enjoyed by other communities,"

M. Kulasegaran, opposition lawmaker with the Democratic Action Party (DAP), told the media. "This gathering is unprecedented, this is a community that can no longer tolerate discrimination." said HINDRAF leader P. Uthayakumar. The demonstrators had gathered at Batu Caves Hindu temple and many of them carried posters of Mahatma Gandhi. But, sadly, there was no murmur amongst the Indian authorities in Delhi or in their High Commission in Kuala Lumpur about it.

Indian secularism prevents South Block to go vocal on injustices meted out to Indian-origin people if they happen to be Hindus. Only Muslim sensibilities are deemed fit to be entertained by Indian envoys abroad. This message further emboldens the jihadi intolerant rulers to take Hindus in their country for granted as a forlorn people for whom none would bother. Malaysian Chinese are given a voice by Singapore's influential leaders of Chinese origin like Lee Kuan Yew and Christians get full support from the US, UK and other European governments. Only Hindus, who have no other country on this earth but India to look upon for any moral support, are left abandoned.

Sometimes I feel amazed to see that how highly educated people who shine in politics and academics can be so ruthless towards their own fellow citizens as to deny them basic human rights. Like a place of worship and a choice to adhere to a faith of choice. Why have the societal ruptures been so visibly strong in countries where Islamists form majority? We have enough such examples from Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Malaysian incidents that have a common thread – wherever the Muslims are in majority the rights and freedom of the non-Muslims are severely curtailed.

Take for example Kashmir. It's the only state in India which is a Muslim majority and see what happened there. Hundreds of temples were razed, Hindus were forced to flee, their women were raped, children were killed and houses forcibly occupied. The Muslims in Kashmir have been enjoying a special status under Constitution's Article 370, hardly any central law is enforced there, the number of income-tax payers is among the lowest and unlike other poor states, J&K gets 90 per cent central financial assistance as grants and only 10 per cent as loans. Still there are complaints that a 'Hindu central government discriminates'.

The other minority, Buddhists mostly located in Ladakh , too, are harshly treated and discriminated against by the mainly Sunni Muslim governance in Srinagar. The Buddhist Association, Leh, has been submitting memorandums to the central government about how Buddhist youths are denied jobs and a fair chance to join the Kashmir Administrative service and professional colleges in spite of clearing the entrance exams. The number of Buddhist minorities is fast decreasing causing concern amongst their leaders. Even their dead are not allowed to be buried in Muslim-majority Kargil area and monasteries have been denied to be built. If that can happen in a Hindu majority India's Muslim majority state, one can imagine the position of Hindus in a Muslim majority country like Pakistan.

A report of the United Nations Committee on the International Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD Committee) says, 'The Constitution of Pakistan segregates its citizens on the basis of religion; and provides preferential treatment to the Muslims. While Article 2 of the Constitution declares Islam as "the State religion of Pakistan" and the Holy Quran and Sunnah to be "the supreme law and source of guidance for legislation to be administered through laws enacted by the Parliament and Provincial Assemblies, and for policy-making by the Government", under Article 41(2) only a Muslim can become President. Further, Article 260 of the Constitution differentiates "Muslim" and "Non-Muslim" thereby facilitating and encouraging discrimination on the basis of religion.

The Constitution is so glued to providing preferential treatment to the majority Muslims that even a Hindu judge has to take the oath of office in the name of "Allah". On 24 March 2007, Justice Rana Bhagwandas, a Hindu, while being sworn in as Acting Chief Justice of Pakistan, being the senior most judge after the suspension of Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, had to take oath with a Quranic prayer - "May Allah Almighty help and guide me, (A'meen)". The Hindus and Hinduism have been maligned and hatred against them is propagated in the text books approved by the National Curriculum Wing of the Federal Ministry of Education. Among others, Hindus have been stated as "enemy of Islam" in the textbooks of Class V.

I hate to look disillusioned and always try to see something positive and hopeful for my columns but to avoid the smoke around your neck is as calumnious as to see bad where everything is otherwise resplendent with nobility. Last week I met an important Malaysian foreign dignitary over lunch at Taj Chambers, when during the course of our discussion about Asians, I mentioned the plight of Malaysian Hindus. He simply rubbished all that had appeared in the international newspapers and channels saying 'small matters are presented hundred times larger than the real quantum of gravity'. 'We are a very tolerant society'. Really?


Anonymous said...

Interesting write-up from a pseudo-intellectual who lives in his world of Utopia!

Can you name any other country in this present world where there is non-existence of any form of prejudices, discrimination and corruption. I bet you can't name any, if you are sincerely and honestly truthfull.

KJisGay said...

To Anonymous 2:42AM

Prejudice, discrimination, and corruption are everywhere, but only in Malaysia are these things institutionalized and made official policy by Islamofascist thugs.

Pencinta Bangsa said...

Sedih pula baca semua komen ni...betapa rakyat Malaysia yang berbilang kaum tidak ada perpaduan sesama sendiri...di sinilah pentingnya kita ukur kembali tahap kepintaran emosi kita (emotional intelligence)..apapun bangsa kita, apapun agama kita..kita perlu ada EQ (Emotional Quotient)...bukan saling berdengki..tapi kita perlu bijak menangani emosi kita..percayalah..orang yang bijak, adalah orang yang mampu menguasai emosi sendiri..berfikir sebelum bertindak....Jangan fikir untuk diri sendiri sahaja, fikirkan juga demi orang lain..hidup di dunia hanyalah sementara..setiap harta yang kita kumpul tak mungkin kita boleh bawa ke kubur...peace...

KJisGay said...

Pencinta Bangsa,

You are right. I am amending my comment to specify "Islamofascist thugs from UMNO". The big majority of Malays is not corrupt or bigoted.

Anonymous said...

A victim of Hindu bigotry
Dear Madam / Sir,

I was amused to read the article "Baptist book spurs march by Hindus" by Mr. Thomas Grillo in "The Boston Globe" edition dated 11/22/99. I was amused because those who believe in one of the most intolerant and bigoted religions in the World were complaining of intolerance by the Baptists.

As a victim of Hindu bigotry and a witness to the social misery bred by Hindu intolerance, I pray for an opportunity from "The Boston Globe" to register my protest and to unmask the hypocrisy of the Hindus.

Hinduism espouses the division of people into hierarchically placed groups called "castes". These castes are placed in a stepladder of ascending superiority and descending inferiority. People who are born into these castes should follow the ordained caste professions and marry only within their caste through arranged marriages. The beneficiaries of this system were the various Brahman castes who by virtue of their birth were free to follow intellectual pursuits at the advent of British colonial education making them modern India's intellectual, scientific, and bureaucratic class.

The various "Vysya" (trading) castes, placed below the Brahman castes and the Royal ("Kshatriya") castes, have enjoyed the monopoly in trading activities for centuries, by virtue of their birth, thus becoming modern India's corporate and business class.

The "Shudras" are the various lower castes in the hierarchy who are considered as Hindus and members of caste Hindu society.

The "Dalits" (meaning "broken people) are the "outcasts" and "slaves" of the Hindu society of hierarchical castes. That is why the Dalit people are considered untouchable and made to live in segregated colonies outside the towns and villages where the caste Hindus live.

All the political parties in India are controlled by caste Hindus. When the British offered to give the Dalits "separate electorates" to enable them to participate in democracy more securely, the so-called "Mahatma" (Gandhi) who strongly believed in the caste system went on protest fast until death. The Dalit leader Dr.B.R.Ambedkar had to refuse the British offer (of separate electorates) because he was afraid that if Gandhi died by fasting the Hindus will use the opportunity to organize wholesale massacres of Dalit people all over India. Mahatma Gandhi was a bigot belonging to one of the "Vysya" castes who believed in the concept of graded superiority of birth espoused by the Hindu caste system.

The recent killings of Christian missionaries, burning of Churches and gang rapes of Catholic nuns by Hindu fanatical elements belonging to the vast supportive network of the BJP party and the RSS ("Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh") known as the "Sangh Parivar", is motivated by the caste bigotry of the Hindus. The caste Hindus want to preserve the outcast status of the Dalits and tribals by preventing the Christian missionaries from educating and converting the Dalits. The Hindus feel that the work of the Christian missionaries will destroy the Dalits' bondage to outcast status through education, conversion and spiritual liberation. Even last month a Catholic nun was stripped naked and urinated upon by a gang of Hindu fanatics in north India. A Catholic priest Rev. Fr. Arul Das was murdered by the same Hindu fanatic (Dara Singh) who also burnt an Australian missionary (Mr.Graham Staines) and his two little sons alive until they died in great pain.

Hindu society is a wasteland of hatred spawned by the bigotry of the hierarchically placed Hindu castes. Apart from bickering with one another, the Caste Hindus, whether they are upper or lower in the caste hierarchy are united in their hatred for the Dalits. No attempt has been made in the 50 years of India's independence to integrate Dalits with the mainstream of society. State sponsored services such as primary schools, medical clinics, offices of government departments or a public telephone, are always established in the caste Hindus section of the village or town and not in the segregated colonies where the Dalit people are forced to live.

The Hindu identity is forced on all Dalits (despite being outcasts of Hindu society) and also on all atheists. According to the Hindu Civil Law all those who are not Christians and Muslims are "Hindus". Those Dalits who convert to Christianity are made to lose the concessions provided in state employment and education. Thus the victims of the caste system are kept in perpetual bondage by law and those who seek to escape this bondage by conversion are penalized.

The single most factor that makes the Dalits suffer and live in fear is the violence unleashed on them almost on a daily basis by the Hindus. Every hour, a Dalit person is raped or killed in some part of India. In the district of Cuddalore in Tamil Nadu State in India, four Dalit women (Sakunthala, Victoria, Ponnaruvi and Susheela) were gang raped and killed by caste Hindus during the past year. In all the cases none of the culprits were arrested and no investigation was done. Arbitrary arrests, imprisonment and framing of Dalits for crimes they have not committed are a common practice. In north Indian states such as Bihar wholesale massacres of Dalit villages occurs regularly.

The police force of the Caste Hindus is the worst oppressor against the Dalits. Dalit women are raped in the police precinct itself by the cops. In a famous case that occurred in 1993, a Dalit woman named Padmini was gang raped by five cops in front of her husband at the police station of Annamalai Nagar in Chidambaram district of Tamil Nadu State in India. The cops then killed her husband after gang raping Padmini. None of the policemen were punished for the capital offence. They were slapped with minimal sentences for the gang rape. In a tribal area called "Vachathi" in India, the police posse, which came to catch a brigand gang, raped almost the entire female population of the tribal settlement. None of the cops who indulged in the mass rape were punished for this gruesome crime which happened in 1994.

Rape is the most common risk faced by a Dalit woman in the Hindu society.

The English language dictionary even now carries the word "Pariah" (which is the Tamil name for the large population of Dalits living in Tamil Nadu in India) to convey the meaning of "outcast".

Even though India likes to call herself a democracy, it is only a fake democracy as far as the Dalits are concerned. Large scale bogus voting and preventing Dalits from voting are very common in India. During the recent parliamentary elections, Dalits (Pariahs) living in the parliamentary constituency of "Chidambaram" in India where attacked, molested and their huts burnt to ashes by the caste Hindus placed at a lower hierarchy called "Vanniyars" to prevent the Dalits from voting. The bigoted police force actively participated in the violence and arson against the Dalits.

Totally 17 Dalit villages were burnt to ashes and three Dalits were killed in the Chidambaram area. Around 50,000 Dalits could not vote and all the Dalit votes were fraudulently cast by the caste Hindu Vanniyars whose PMK (Pattali Makkal Katchi) party candidate in alliance with the Hindu fanatic BJP party was declared elected in Chidambaram. He (Mr.Ponnusamy) is now a minister in the cabinet of Prim e Minister Vajpayee.

In short, the Hindus of India are so bigoted and hateful that they will never allow the Dalits to taste a sense of equality and dignity. Even though the present President of India is a Dalit he is just a constitutional figurehead without any executive power.

The tragedy is that the caste system is being spread rapidly even in the United States by the Brahmans and other caste Hindus who have emigrated to the USA during the past forty years. For example, in the Hindu temples built in the USA, only those who are born into the most superior caste of Brahmans are allowed to be priests. Even in the USA, lower caste Hindus and outcast Dalits are not allowed to touch the idol in temples to perform religious rites. In effect, the Hindus have managed to bring untouchability and the caste system into the United States in the garb of religious freedom even though it violates the Civil Rights laws of the United States.

In 1989, when I was a student in Los Angeles, the priest (Brahman) in a Hindu temple in California who knew my background prevented me from entering the room (sanctum sanctorum) where the idol was kept because I was a Dalit. Upper caste Hindus in the United States and the Brahmans in particular, who live in large numbers in the USA vigorously practice the caste system. This is evident from the way they psychologically despise African-Americans, arrange marriages for their children strictly within their caste and harbor feelings of superiority because of their caste Hindu heritage. I know many castes Hindu friends in the US, especially Brahmans, who credit their academic achievement to their intellectual superiority (over Americans) due to their "natural" intelligence inherited "genetically" through "caste superiority".

No wonder Adolf Hitler chose the Hindu symbol of "Swastika" to represent the political message of superiority by birth of those born into his race.

Hindus who protest the Baptists' criticism of Hinduism should ponder how the Hindu Civil Law has forcibly converted outcast victims (Dalits) who were never allowed membership into the society and religion of the Hindu castes. The segregated dwellings of Dalits all over India, the denial of admission to Dalits into Vedic schools which teach Hindu scriptures and the ban on Dalits from working as priests in Hindu temples obviously prove how the Hindu identity is thrust on the very people who are victimized by it.

Hindus should wax eloquently about the intolerance of other religions after destroying the hierarchical bigotry of castes and other inherent evils in the Hindu faith. Burning brides for dowry, killing people for caste bigotry, sanctioning inequality and segregation in the name of God, preventing widows from marrying, burning widows in the funeral pyre of their husbands, allowing slavery of Dalits and tribals in the form of bonded labor, female infanticide, forcing women into prostitution at temples in the name of serving God (Devadasis) are all some of the evil practices of Hinduism which are still prevalent in many parts of India.

Baptists are fully justified in their remarks about Hinduism.

Hindus should criticize Christian missionaries for their drive to convert Hindus into Christianity after scrapping the Hindu Civil Law in India which "forcibly converts" all non-Christians and non-Moslems, (including atheists, outcast non-Hindu Dalits, tribals, Buddhists, Sikhs and Jains) into the Hindu religious fold.

People living in glass houses should not throw stones.

Yours truly,
Dr.Iniyan Elango.

Dr. Iniyan Elango is a general physician and psychotherapist practicing at Chennai, India. He also edits a monthly periodical called "Dalit Times." He recently shot a video documentary about the violence and arson that prevented Dalits from voting in the Chidambaram area in India. The TIME magazine in its issue dated August 02, 1999 published his letter about the relationship between violence in motion pictures and campus violence. He is also the President of the "Tamilar Human Rights Organization" and a co-founder of the "Dalit Media Network".

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