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Islamophobia in Malaysia

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Voltman Male
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  #1 Old 21-10-2012 Smile Islamophobia in Malaysia

Is "Islamophobia" a big thing in Malaysia?

How are relations between Muslim/non-Muslim like?

Why are so many Chinese Malaysians leaving Malaysia?

In your opinion, is the above article a fair assessment of the situation in Malaysia?
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  #2 Old 21-10-2012 Default Re: Islamophobia in Malaysia

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  #3 Old 24-10-2012 Default Re: Islamophobia in Malaysia

Originally Posted by marczeman View Post
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  #4 Old 25-10-2012 Default Re: Islamophobia in Malaysia

Originally Posted by marczeman View Post
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Originally Posted by vseehua View Post
Why don't you start to participate as well?
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Originally Posted by Voltman View Post

Is "Islamophobia" a big thing in Malaysia?

How are relations between Muslim/non-Muslim like?

Why are so many Chinese Malaysians leaving Malaysia?

In your opinion, is the above article a fair assessment of the situation in Malaysia?
1. Is "Islamophobia" a big thing in Malaysia?

I don't proclaim to know all the people in Malaysia and what they perceive of the Islamic faith to be. What I know is that people of different faiths have commingled for decades and could live together with very little, if any, discomfort or misunderstanding. Even if one understands very little of their neighbour's faith, that does not engender the possibility of sectarian war (from a very extreme point of view).

But over the years, the issue of implementing the hudud in Malaysia has been a hotly debated issue. The Malaysian Pan-Islamic Party (PAS) advocates the implementation of hudud laws, but the ruling National Coalition does not, and some of its component parties have, till this day, unequivocally expressed that the implementation of hudud laws will mean restriction for non-Muslims - that non-Muslims will have lots of their rights (what exactly, I don't know) curtailed. Such a scare tactic might work in favour of the National Coalition when it comes to general elections. Does the fear generated by this scare tactic enough to be categorised as "Islamophobia"? That, in my opinion, is a rather subjective call.

One might say that if "Islamophobia" truly exists in Malaysia, it could be a result of politicking. Hardly any issue escapes being politicised, but this isn't something that the people condone.

2. How are relations between Muslims/non-Muslims like?

Like I said earlier on, just because we're of different faiths does not mean that there will be animosity between us. Generally, relations between Muslims and non-Muslims are good. Living in a multi-cultural, multi-racial society means that all of us must take the initiative to learn about other people's beliefs, backgrounds and practices.

3. Why are so many Chinese Malaysians leaving Malaysia?

The reason to this "diaspora" is more of a political issue than a religious one. It would be hard to believe that some people would migrate due to religious differences.

Chinese Malaysians have, over many years, expressed their dissatisfaction towards what they perceive as inequality and unfairness when it comes to education opportunities (scholarships, university placements, etc.), economic opportunities, welfare, etc. What many people may not comprehend, though, is that much of these "inequalities" are part of the Federal Constitution, and the Malay Rulers do have the right to provide and protect special privileges that are accorded to the Bumiputeras; such privileges are not extended to the Indians and the Chinese. Although many perceive this as being unfair, you can't really fight against what is already enacted as law. I concede that laws can be amended, but it's not up to the Parliament to amend those particular laws (I stand corrected on this).

The ruling parties have assured the Chinese and the Indians that they will fight for their race in order to get fairer treatment. However, many Chinese have become fed-up with what are apparently empty promises, and they look towards other lands in the hopes that they will be treated more equally.

(Then again, Chinese Malaysians find themselves in a situation where they can never be truly accepted as equal in any country - not even China. Often, many Chinese Malaysians feel that they are without an identity - a perpetual outcast. Of course, this is a subject of debate.)

But that's just part of the story. Many Chinese Malaysians go abroad in the hopes of finding a better life: better-paying jobs with better benefits. Although employment opportunities are quite aplenty in Malaysia, they don't always pay as well as prospective employees would like them to be. And I don't think that it's wrong to ask for more if one feels that their skills are worth more than what is being offered. Also, work environment can also be an important factor in the Malaysian diaspora.

4. In your opinion, is the above article a fair assessment of the situation in Malaysia?

I think the article is not very objective in its arguments. The idea that Chinese Malaysians leave the country due to "persecution" is, to me, laughable. I have never been persecuted for not being a Muslim, I have never been forced to convert to the Islamic faith, I have never been shunned for not accepting Islamic practices, etc. On the other hand, I have been taught to understand that there are certain things that are prohibited in the Islamic faith and that I should be aware of them. I have been taught that I ought to respect other people's faiths and not to incite anger by causing them to stumble spiritually. Is that persecution?

With Islam being the official religion of the country, many things are centred around the Islamic faith, and the sanctity and position of the Islamic faith are stringently protected. However, I don't see all of this as something that would curtail my rights to my faith, nor are they practices that will significantly diminish the quality of my life. The article mentions "Islamic supremacism" - supremacists - regardless of faith, creed, social background etc. - exist in every part of the world. You have a choice to ignore them.

Last edited by henry_yew; 25-10-2012 at 12:58 PM.
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  #5 Old 25-10-2012 Default Re: Islamophobia in Malaysia

Is "Islamophobia" a big thing in Malaysia?

I'm a 31 year old Malay Muslim and I've yet to experience Islamophobia (as defined in Wikipedia) of any kind in Malaysia. So no, it's not a "big thing" or I would have noticed. It's probably not even a "little thing" but that's only my own opinion.

How are relations between Muslim/non-Muslim like?

Pretty good. Although most people prefer to hang out with people who can:

1) speak the same language fluently - most Chinese aren't fluent in Malay, most Malays can't speak Mandarin/Kantonese/Tamil at all, Indians are usually fluent in Tamil+English+Malay, etc...

2) able to consume the same food/drinks - Muslims are limited to Halal food, Hindus refrain from eating beef (my Indian friend says he can eat beef but avoids it because of tradition). I guess clubbing and dancing while sober gets old after a while, so why bother going?

... it's not uncommon to see groups of close friends of different colors especially in major cities or larger offices with multi-racial employees. In my experience, it's quite easy to strike up a pleasant conversation with an Indian or Chinese uncle while waiting for the train without fearing outright rejection.

Why are so many Chinese Malaysians leaving Malaysia?

It's not just Chinese, I think anyone would seriously consider leaving Malaysia if there's a job offer that pays more than 5 times as much (not that difficult to offer since our GDP PPP is pretty low compared to other countries. Lookup Wikipedia).

Another point to consider is some non-bumiputeras feel the current constitution that favors bumiputeras is unfair. I'm not going to comment on this. Touchy subject

I personally feel the current government is doing a poor job of managing the country so I too would probably leave before the country is driven to bankruptcy.

So to answer your question, there are too many reasons to list but Islamophobia probably isn't one of them.

In your opinion, is the above article a fair assessment of the situation in Malaysia

Nope. IMHO the author is biased by his/her own Islamophobia. He didn't submit facts to back his claims of Islamic supremacism, persecution of non Islamic belief systems and whatnot. It's like a quick writeup based on preconceived misconceptions after reading the referred news article.
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  #6 Old 26-10-2012 Default Re: Islamophobia in Malaysia

Originally Posted by Voltman View Post
In your opinion, is the above article a fair assessment of the situation in Malaysia?

Before I answer the other questions, I think it's worth noting this one: the author has probably misrepresented the problem - yes you could say many non-Muslims are leaving, but to say that it's because of Islam/religion is unlikely to be true.

Because Malays are by definition Muslims, so the majority of the Muslim population in Malaysia are Malays - hence the confusion, I think.

Why are so many Chinese Malaysians leaving Malaysia?

More accurately, many non-Malays (you might say Chinese) are leaving the country. As to why, you could say it's because of racial discrimination, lack of opportunities, earning power, etc. - take your pick. (Although I would argue something else entirely)

So I'm dismissing the idea that non-Muslims/non-Malays are leaving because of Islam. Yes there are elements of Islamic conservatism that turn off the Chinese (see: Henry's explanation of the hudud issue above) but I think most reasonable and rational Chinese Malaysians don't really think they'll be living under any sort of religious rule any time soon.

And the times where Islam does affect us don't really seem to be reasons to leave. E.g. if you marry a Muslim in Malaysia, you have to convert - sometimes headaches ensue. But I don't think this is statistically so prevalent that it's driven people to migrate, and in fact most people in those disputes stayed on here precisely to work those problems out in the courts and such.

Now we can get to the main question.

Generally people think that many Malaysians are leaving because of systemic discrimination - hard to get some kinds of jobs here, better pay and less problems elsewhere, etc. And I don't dismiss these because these definitely are part of the problem.

But I would also make the case that given how globalised the world now is, travelling and migrating are very commonplace options these days. Plane tickets are expensive, but much less so compared to even half a century ago - heck there weren't even as many flights available back then. What I'm getting at is that every country is likely experiencing a lot more emigration these days - what sets us apart is that while our people leave, not enough foreigners come in to take their place (whereas there is no shortage of foreigners looking to go live in the US or the UK).

I don't have stats for this though, so take it as you will.

Is "Islamophobia" a big thing in Malaysia?

I think there is a perception of Islamophobia and a perception of Islamic ultraconservatism. It's a little tricky.

Basically, if you just read the papers and don't leave your home, you probably can't be blamed for thinking that lots of Malays or Muslims are ultraconservative - every day there's another report of people protesting some sort of "insult to Islam" which most of the time is anything but.

This also gives rise to the perception that many don't look particularly favourably on Islam or Muslims. And while there are definitely quite a few people like this, I would say it's no more than the general disagreement people have with religions or faiths other than their own.

Especially, if you compare Malaysians to a few Western countries (most notably, the US), you'll probably find that we are nowhere near the stage where we consider all Muslims terrorists or violent people - at most, as I've said, you might say people just perceive them as being overly defensive or conservative. Although, it has to be noted, the demographics are different here - any anti-Islam protest would be political suicide anyway. But I think my point stands.

How are relations between Muslim/non-Muslim like?

Which brings us to this question. In my opinion, most personal relationships we have with Malays/Muslims (and vice versa) are generally the same ol' thing - it'll range from being cordial acquaintances to good buddies to enemies. In other words, not too different from other interracial relations - sure many of us stick with people of similar race, but no more than anyone of any race generally does. So no pattern of ostracism or alienation here in my opinion.

But relations can appear tense or shaky - again, because of what we read in the media. So you can have people condemning the race or religion at large, but who are quite content and fair in their own relations with these people. It's just that the gap between perception and reality hasn't quite been linked, so people can have apparently conflicting attitudes towards this.

If you ask me whether there are racist or racialist perceptions among Malaysians, I'd have to be honest and say yes, there are. But I don't think it's impacted us in such a way that we're in very bad shape. Everyone talks about May 13, but that was over 40 years ago, and people generally aren't afraid that it'll happen again.

However, I do think that these perceptions need to be dealt with if we're really going to move beyond issues of race here. So in my opinion we're sort of stuck halfway on the road to leaving race behind - on the one hand, there's quite a bit of unity, and on the other there are unresolved, deep-seated issues (which don't really interfere with our lives too much, beyond the politicking).

But ask people if they think racial relations are better now than they were previously. You'll get very conflicting answers. Some people will talk about how decades back there was unity among people in facing adversity (Malays hiding Chinese families from the Japanese, vice versa during May 13 etc) and how now things are worse. Some will say "Look at how we have such mixed-race rallies and protests" and declare things are better. Again, I think it comes down to the national perception we gain when we read the news, and how we separate that from our own personal reality.
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  #7 Old 15-11-2012 Default Re: Islamophobia in Malaysia

Nay, "Islamophobia" is not a big thing in Malaysia. It is not even a thing in Malaysia. Well, majority of Malaysians are Muslims but you can still find any church or temple easily when you're on the road. To be honest, I have never associate the word Islamophobia with Malaysia. It's just doesn't make sense to me. If you have been growing up with a Muslim family as your neighbour, you know better than trusting the westerners' view on Islam. The muslim and non-muslim are always in a good term (unless you count those extremist politicians but these type of people are a common problem in any multiracial country. They don't count ). About the Chinese people leaving Malaysia... I don't see the problem. They have the right to leave or return to Malaysia if they want to. And the Chinese are not the only people who leave Malaysia. But that's not the point. Maybe there is an increase in the number of Chinese flying overseas but I don't see the number of the Chinese students in the school lessens by day. How did you come across that article? I never trust the Net when I want to search for Islam-related stuff... Too much fallacies.
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  #8 Old 13-12-2012 Default Re: Islamophobia in Malaysia

nice post i lyk it keep it up..
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  #9 Old 28-02-2013 Default Re: Islamophobia in Malaysia

not spamming, just want to bump this discussion up during this fertile season of ReCom. Hope to attract some potential newbies that will eventually stay on ReCom to become oldies too =D
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