Press Statement – Religious sensitivities must be respected by everyone – visitor and citizen alike

The on-going raging debates and objections being registered by concerned Malaysians over the Islamic scholar Dr Zakir Naik’s planned talks on comparative religion deserves level headed responses and prudent decisions.

The Inspector General of police who is our nation’s vanguard and custodian for national security and peace has responsibly and rightly so indicated that there is no compromise when it comes to safeguarding peace and upholding the Constitutional rights of all citizens of every religion. He does not want the speaker to cause havoc.

The Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia as a leader for all Malaysians and who is committed to protect the harmony in our multi-religious nation has emphasized that Dr Zakir should not at any time compare religions in his public talk which could infuriate the affected community of believers.

Dr Zakir, I appeal to your learned wisdom as a Muslim scholar to be well informed of our country’s unique multicultural society of diverse religions. Your intentions may be noble is so far as propagating the greatness of Islam to the Muslim faithful is concerned.

But what may work very well in another part of this planet earth may not necessarily be the same elsewhere. Comparing other religions with Islam may be taken differently in some places but as the prudent Inspector of Police promptly warned, that may not apply in Malaysia.

When you go on a crusade to compare and contrast Islam with other religions – even if your intentions are scholarly, it can backfire. It risks being easily manipulated and taken out of context. And this is what we must not allow at all cost.

At myPPP we maintain that prudence must reign supreme. Prudence also dictates that our Malaysian Constitution must be respected by all – citizens and visitors alike.

By all means preach about your own religion as Muslims here have a right and duty to keep learning, appreciate and embrace the greatness of their own religion.

But to go the distance to want to showcase how Islam is different or even superior from other religions is foolish. Certainly not in this age and worse, not in Malaysia please.

Followers of religions have a need to be fed with lectures, speeches, sermons, etc,  to keep them enriched on the pathway of their respective beliefs. But to use a platform to say things that may appear as insulting, demeaning, condemning or even saying things that casts shadows on another religion is something that will not be accepted in the best interest of Malaysia’s nationhood.

The Barisan Nasional government has for the past six decades worked very hard in keeping the fragile fabric of a multi-religious population durable. Dr Zakri will and must appreciate this endeavor of pain and hope.

As much as the government is seriously concerned, all parties from all sides of the political and religious divide must let sensibility and sensitivity take precedence. It is in honoring each other’s faith that we reach a higher platform of nationhood. It is in building our respective faiths on its very own merits and without comparison that we strengthen our individual and collective beliefs.

Tan Sri M Kayveas

President, myPPP

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