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Kelantan over-reacts to Utusan cartoon

Thu 2011-Jun-23 @ +08 18:12:01 pm

In banning Utusan Malaysia from the Menteri Besar’s functions, the Pas-led Kelantan government does little credit to itself, nor does it enhance the party’s credentials as a leader of political and social reform.

The ban was ordered for what the Menteri Besar’s press secretary described as “an insult to Islam” because of a cartoon in the paper contrasting the syariah and secular law enforcement response to an instance of rape.

MalaysiaKini photo

That response, typical of many other similar responses worldwide, will only leave many scratching their heads in wonder that there could be an insult to a religion merely because a noted cleric or ulama has been criticised or viewed in less than adoring terms.

Utusan’s cartoon sets out in cold contrast an increasingly important element of criminal proceedings, the use of modern recording equipment that can capture a criminal act in progress.

Substitute the girl in the cartoon with a robbery victim in a basement car park, for example. Would a security camera recording of the robbery be acceptable if the robber was caught and tried under syariah proceedings? Would that same recording be accepted as evidence in a civil law court? Or how about the so-called CCTV recording of a man supposedly resembling a leading politician having sex with a woman who is supposedly a prostitute, supposedly in a Kuala Lumpur apartment?

Questions such as these are not matters of interest only to clerics or lawyers, they are pertinent to everyone.

Also pertinent to everyone in Malaysian society is how clerics and ulamas respond to criticism and irreverence.

Making fun of politicians, what they do, and what they say, is an ordinary past-time for many Malaysians. Are ulama and religious leaders beyond criticism? Are they so godly that they have risen above ordinary mortals to reside midway between man and God, merely because they study the word of God?

Religious beliefs about the universe, the world, human society and human relationships has been in conflict with secular views ever since science and mass popular education opened humanity’s eyes to the real wonder of God’s creations all around them.

The reaction by Kelantan’s politicians will only harden the view that many who are held in high regard for their godliness are actually no saints.

There are many reasons to be scornful of Utusan’s many antics. This is not one of them.

» Kelantan bans Utusan from MB’s functions

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