Enough with name-calling, says Muslim NGO

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KUALA LUMPUR: The president of a Muslim non-governmental organisation (NGO), Pertubuhan Ikram Malaysia (Ikram) has urged Malaysians to stop calling non-Malays or non-Muslim citizens immigrants or intruders.

Its president Dr Mohd Parid Sheikh Ahmad instead called upon all citizens to focus their efforts in instilling respect and understanding among the different races in Malaysia.

“How can the non-Malays and non-Muslims, who helped develop this nation with all their heart and soul, be called pendatang (immigrants) and penceroboh (intruders) when this country belongs to them too?

“Name-calling such as this infuriates the non-Muslims, as their loyalty to the country is being questioned [when] they are stigmatised as immigrants and intruders,” said Mohd Parid.

He said this in his speech to about 2,500 Ikram members from across Malaysia during the NGO’s annual general assembly at the Tan Sri Jeffrey Cheah Complex in Subang Jaya on Saturday.

Another Muslim NGO, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) had previously courted controversy when its president claimed on May 6 that the Chinese in Malaysia were intruders.

A Gerakan member had responded to the issue by announcing that all Malaysians, including the Malays, were pendatang, during the party’s annual conference on Oct 19.

This prompted Isma to retort that Malays were instead perantau (travellers), and not immigrants.

“If he was referring to the Malays who come from Sumatra, Sulawesi and Borneo, he cannot call them pendatang.

“Malays who move from that area are referred to as perantau,” Isma vice-president Muhammad Fauzi Asmuni had said on the group’s website last Friday.

Ikram on Saturday disagreed, saying the suspicions and doubt sown among the races by certain groups were threatening the harmony and love that had been nurtured all this while.

“Not only will it jeapordise the unity that is so important to our nation’s development, but it can also affect efforts to create peace, understanding and dialogue among the races.” He said such suspicions will also affect the spread of  Islam in a multicultural society,” Mohd Parid told fellow activists.

Explaining why Ikram is part of the Negara-Ku movement, he said that it was to encourage all Malaysians to view Islam more positively.

We must encourage dialogue among the races and religions, and make efforts to bring peace and understanding among the races in such a diverse society.

“Ikram will not allow the polarisation of races to continue in this country. It benefits no one when we should be focusing our attention on nation building,” he said.

According to Mohd Parid, the fuelling of tensions using issues of race and religion would create misunderstanding over the dakwah (preaching) efforts among Muslims here.

“Islam’s image as a religion that is peaceful and focused on dialogue must be maintained, and we must stamp out the use of threats and [remove] the Sedition Act,” he said. — The Malaysian Insider

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on October 27, 2014.