The current smear campaign against PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar is steeped in ethnic sentiments and no different from the Zionist ideology which confuses race and religion, according to a Muslim organisation.
In a statement to Harakahdaily condemning the “irresponsible mischaracterisation” by UMNO leaders over Nurul’s statement on freedom of religion as stated in the Qur’an, Kuala Lumpur-based Islamic Renaissance Front said the basic premise of the campaign to vilify Nurul was against the Qur’anic principle of freedom of conscience.
“In particular, the danger lies in the unmistakably ethnic nature of the sentiments that are motivating the on-going smear campaign against her. The erroneous assumption being encouragedis that Malays can only be Muslims. This, to be sure, goes against the elementary confusion of an ethnicity with a religion.
“Here, we should pause to reflect on how that very confusion is also discernable in conservative Zionist thinking, which some Malay-Muslims who are so enraged by Nurul Izzah’s statement are also supposed to oppose,” IRF said.
Nurul made a statement during a forum on the theme of Islamic state in Subang Jaya on November 3, where she was a panelist alongside PAS member of parliament Mujahid Yusof Rawa, Sarawak PKR leader Baru Bian, head of Malay Studies Department at the National University of Singapore Dr. Syed Farid Alatas, lawyer and rights activist Malik Imtiaz, social activist Dr. Wong Chin Huat, and Christian activist and lawyer Kenny Ng.
Moderated by Dr Cyrus Das, the discussion was based on a main speech delivered by IRF director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa.
Nurul had quoted a verse from the Qur’an that there was no compulsion in religion, while saying that Muslims were still bound by the Shariah. This led to UMNO mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia accusing her of supporting apostasy among Malay-Muslims, while Islamic studies graduates alligned to the Malay party argued that freedom of religion in Islam only applied to those outside its fold.
IRF however said it made no sense to interpret the Qur’anic verse of freedom of religion as being directed only to non-Muslims.
“Those who believe that are mistaking Islam for Hotel California, where you can check out anytime you like, but can never leave,” it added, quoting lyrics of the song popularised by American rock bank The Eagles.
It further lamented the absence of any argument based on sound Islamic principles in the current debate, adding that it had turned into something political.
“In that frenzy of rage, the personal has been drowned by the political. There is no Muslim condition to speak of, just enraged mobs. The only ‘winners’ to speak of in the meantime, are those seeking to exploit religion for ethnocentric ends,” it stressed.
Calling on all quarters to “speak the truth to power”, the statement cited verse 99 from Surah Yunus of the Qur’an: And [thus it is] had thy Sustainer so willed, all those who live on earth would surely have attained to faith, all of them: dost thou, then, think that thou couldn’t compel people to believe.
“In other words, the belief that Malays must be made to remain Muslim goes against the principle of reason and justice – the cornerstone of Islamic epistemology,” it said.