China Must Stop The Oppression On The Uyghur Muslim Community

There have recently been a series of international media reports alleging that at many as one million Muslims, mostly from the Uyghur community are being held in Chinese internment camps. These are part of long-standing allegations that Uyghurs and other groups in the so-called Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have been subject to systematic “mass surveillance and detention” by the Chinese government.

This was initially targeted at so-called Uyghur ‘extremists’, although media reports have also claimed that individuals have been incarcerated simply for appearing to practice Islam.

The international magazine the Atlantic furthermore states that individuals in these camps—which authorities claim are merely “vocational schools” for “criminals” have been subjected to horrific treatment, including being “… forced to renounce Islam, criticise their own Islamic beliefs and those of fellow inmates, and recite Communist Party propaganda songs for hours each day….forced to eat pork and drink alcohol…as well as reports of torture and death.”

The report also states that Uyghurs who are sent for “re-education” have been treated as if their religious beliefs are some sort of mental illness that can only be cured through harsh treatment. These allegations are completely unacceptable if true, and is a crime against humanity.

The Chinese government must immediately release the individuals being held and cease its repressive activities in the XUAR. Moreover, it must commit to respecting religious and cultural freedom in the region as well as punish the perpetrators of human rights abuses.

The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had urged China to stop the practice immediately.

I urge the Malaysian government, ASEAN member states and other international organisations to pressure the Chinese government to ensure that the latter’s oppressive acts in Xinjiang cease.

This is simply yet another tragedy in Asia that we cannot and must not turn a blind eye to.


Free Tariq Ramadan

I have been acquainted with scholar and activist Dr Tariq Ramadan, who is presently a Professor at Oxford University, since my own university days more than ten years ago.

I was active in the Federation of Students Islamic Societies of UK and Ireland (FOSIS) and Dr Ramadan articulated a consistent and coherent vision of being a committed Muslim at ease with a diverse modern world. Since then I have read his books and kept up with his talks.

His views have earned him critics from reactionary Muslims, as well as anti-Muslim segments in the West.

Dr Ramadan has now been hurled with wild accusations in France. He voluntarily cooperated with the the investigation and yet was held in custody before any decision whether the case should go to trial has been made. It has now been revealed that he is being hospitalised for an illness while under custody.

Both Dr Ramadan and his accusers will have their day in court. The basic principle of justice – presumption of innocence must be maintained.

Any trial should be conducted fairly according to due process. The media should stop its trial by media and report on the case fairly.

Tariq Ramadan must be freed immediately.


Free Tariq Ramadan Campaign


In support of petition for Petronas to divest from Myanmar

We would like to express our support for the petition signed on 8 November 2017 by some 47 Malaysian Members of Parliament from Pakatan Harapan, Warisan and PAS calling on Petronas to divest from the Union of Myanmar.

The petition quite rightly notes that the Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar has been subjected to “…systematic ethnic cleansing that (among others) involved torture, indiscriminate murder, burning of settlements, rape and intimidation in the last 10 years.”

As such, it calls on Petronas to completely divest from Myanmar from 1 January 2018 unless and until:

“a. Government of Myanmar recognized (sic) that ethnic minority Rohingya are legitimate citizens of Myanmar and are accorded the rights and protection given to other citizens of Myanmar; and

b. All manner of intimidation, subjugation, discrimination and crime against them (ethnic minority Rohingya) are stopped immediately and comprehensively.”

Petronas should realize that its investments have an impact on the lives of the people of the countries that it chooses to do business in.

At the same time—as a government-linked company and one of the most respectable and recognisable Malaysian brands globally—its decisions in this regard also have a direct impact on our country’s reputation and moral standing.

The Myanmar military has not ceased its violent actions in the Rakhine state despite international pressure.

It therefore behoves global corporate citizens—if they truly care about human rights and their reputations—to take a stand on this matter.

Continuing to invest and do business in Myanmar without demanding changes to its policies means that companies which engage in such activities are also complicit in the actions of the military-backed regime.

We therefore call on Petronas to accept the petition of the 47 MPs, as well as for its President and CEO Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin to meet with a delegation of those legislators to discuss this matter as requested in the letter dated 7 November 2017 from Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli.

Keadilan Youth supports Day Of Anger on the invasion of Al-aqsa Mosque

KEADILAN Youth wholeheartedly condemns the acts of invasion by the Israeli Zionist regime in Masjid Al-Aqsa which has put great pressure on Palestinian Muslims who are there to perform acts of worship.

Israel continues to defy international criticism and condemnation towards their abusive acts which has caused agony towards the Muslims and Christians in Palestine, and all the while the Zionist government
has exacerbated the condition by continuing their impudence.

Now, with the greater encroachment of Islam’s first Qiblah, the Israelis are showing their determination to strengthen the Zionist control of the holy land and challenge the patience of Muslims all over the world.

Therefore, KEADILAN Youth calls upon Malaysians to support the declaration of a ‘Day of Anger’ on the 2nd of October (Friday), and join us in rallying in front of the United States Embassy after Friday prayers to show our discontent and protest over the acts by the Israeli Zionist regime.

The West, in particular the US, needs to be honest about the invasion and oppression of Palestine and should no longer be held hostage to the pro-Israeli lobby groups.

KEADILAN Youth also urge the government and Prime Minister Najib Razak to highlight this issue to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) as well as the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to ensure that these international organisations put further pressure on Israel to halt all acts of cruelty on Palestinians.

The challenges and opportunities facing the Islamic world today: a view from Malaysia

Keynote speech at the World Affairs Council (Majlis Shu’un Dawliyya), Amman, Jordan on 24 March 2015

Your Excellency Dr Abdul Salam al-Majali, President of World Affairs Council and Islamic World Academy of Sciences,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentleman,

Bismillahi rahmani rahim

Assalamualaikum w.b.t. and a good evening,

I am honoured to be given an opportunity to speak at this prestigious institution.

The Islamic world today is facing various challenges. These challenges come from outside and within the ummah. While each Muslim nation faces unique challenges, there are several commonalities. However, at the old saying goes: challenges also present us with opportunities.

The most pressing challenge facing us as a faith community is the dark shadow of the so-called ad-daulah al-Islamiyah, otherwise known as Daish or the Islamic State (IS). This group, as well as individuals claiming to act on its behalf, have committed unspeakable acts of terror in the Middle East and beyond.

For Jordan, this issue is of course of direct importance due to the geographical nature of the crisis. It however also affects other Muslims as Muslims far and near have been attracted to its cause – and brings our faith to disrepute.

Malaysia has not been spared from this unfortunate trend. Scores of young Muslims have joined the movement. We can speculate on the factors that lead them to leave their families and hopes to wreak havoc in distant lands. While it cannot be denied that socio-economic disparities contribute to the rise of extremism, the root of terror in the Muslim world today goes far deeper.

Young men and women are attracted to such causes because they feel disillusioned with modernity. Capitalist economics and modern technology—while important—has not also resulted in more egalitarian societies where social prejudice is eliminated and the dignity of all are protected—regardless of class or ethnic background. In such circumstances, the youth often easily fall under the influence of extremist voices offering a means to seek redress through their grievances through vile acts.

Another challenge that has recently dominated headlines in Malaysia is proposed the implementation of the sharia penal code. One of our states – via the democratic legislative process it has to be said – is pushing for that to be realised. However, this has come under sustained controversy, not least because the implementation of the sharia is regarded with unease by not only non-Muslim Malaysians but also many Muslims in the country as well.

The controversy has exacerbated long-burning controversies in Malaysia: are we religious or secular? What is the role of religion in public life? What is justice? How much debate and dissent is permissible in matters of religion? How do we maintain harmonious societies when consensus on matters like faith, culture and language have broken-down, perhaps irrevocably?

There is a common thread that runs through these issues: how do we live lives that are faithful to our religion, but in such a way that can co-exist and thrive in a modern environment? What position does our non-Muslim neighbours and minorities have vis-à-vis these developments? How can the values of moderation, justice and tolerance as taught by our tradition be realised?

The fact remains that contrary to the visions of liberal fundamentalists, faith remains important for Muslims. As noted by Indian essayist Pankaj Mishra in the Ruins of Empire: from the heydays of European imperialism to the hegemony of American capitalism, Muslims maintained a strong adherence to our faith and traditions. When many fathers of independence in the Muslim world – or the Third World in general – tried to replicate one form of Western model or the other, it failed miserably—simply because such models were the product of the unique historical contexts of their societies. It was out of these deadlocks that the search for a solution from within began to gather momentum.

The challenges of terrorism or literalism however emerge when the desire for a quick fix leads to answers that may appear authentic but are unable to incorporate our tradition of moderation or the challenges of today’s world to its core.

Our task – and opportunity – is to prove both sides wrong. We can prove to the literalists that religion can make a positive contribution to modern, plural democracies. We can also show liberal fundamentalists that religion can contribute to the discourse to reform capitalism and modernity; that the health and happiness of our countries depend on something more than mere socio-economic development.

Let us retell the forgotten stories of moderation to the younger generation – the stories of Salahuddin al-Ayubi and Abdul Qadir al-Jazairi – heroes whose chivalry and dedication to justice made them legends even amongst their foes. Let us celebrate the thinkers and scholars such as Ibn Khaldun, Ibn Sina and al-Khwarizmi whom without their contribution the modern world would have been a very different and poorer place. We can keep being nostalgic about our glorious past, but we must also understand that it came about because we were faithful to our ideals and were intellectually curious to learn and change for the better.

As for the issue of sharia, we must never lose sight of the principles of maqasid sharia (higher objectives of the sharia) and fiqh al awlawiyyat (the fiqh of priorities). The sharia can and must be debated. The process must involve all stakeholders in our societies. Those who criticise the concept must be engaged on an intellectual level, not with threats or attempts to stifle discourse.

I would here like to express our appreciation to Jordan for playing a crucial role in contributing towards a consensus of moderation. Just as Jordan played a crucial role in establishing the Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS) by hosting its founding conference in 1986, in 2004 the Amman Message was released, providing an authoritative definition of mainstream Islam. The fact that major scholars representing different schools within Islam – from the Sheikh of Azhar, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Ayatollah Sistani – endorsed the message was a significant achievement. Indeed, Malaysia for its part was represented by political figures from different spectrums – the-then Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and current Opposition Leader and Political Prisoner Anwar Ibrahim.

The task is now even greater with the advent of IS. We must prove that we can be faithful to the tenets of Islam and co-exist in a diverse world. Violence and terror has no place in Islam. This, however, does not absolve Muslims from the need to actively confront extremism in our societies, from the need to defeat those who would use religion for nefarious ends. The Amman Message provided the template, but we need to communicate it confidently and consistently throughout the Muslim world. Most importantly, governments need to adhere steadfastly to the ideals of honesty, justice and fairness that are crucial components of our faith. This is the only way for calls of “moderation” and protestations that “Islam is a religion of peace” will have any credibility.

Beyond this, we need to embrace the treasures of Islamic civilization to provide succour to a world that has realised that contemporary definitions of development have only left us with a broken capitalist system, looming environmental disasters and a disillusioned, apathetic electorate. At the heart of these crises is the search for meaning – and on this, we have much to offer.

In short, this is the opportunity that we must seize.

Thank you.