European Muslim World Democracy Forum

Last week, I was invited by Syed Kamall MEP, from the Conservatives to be a panellist at the European Muslim World Democracy Forum. My session was on human capital and education looking specifically on women and youths.

I began by talking about how Malaysia’s NEP stabilised its society and helped to create a Bumiputera middle-class.

This middle-class arguably assisted the movement for political change and reform in Malaysia, especially for parties like Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

However, there are certain anomalies that need to be addressed:

The problems that initiatives like the NEP created, such as corruption, but also entitlement.

Also, economic empowerment has not necessarily prevented youths—whatever their faith—from becoming radicalized. There have been countless terrorists, extremists and radicals from middle-class backgrounds.

The first problem can be addressed by continuing to pursue democracy and good governance in Muslim societies. It is wrong to say that these things are in any way inimical to the teachings of Islam.

The challenge is for politicians to win support and buy-in for these principles among Muslim constituents. This is the challenge facing Pakatan right now. But this is not a problem unique to Muslim polities. Look how American voters continuously tolerate corrupt Republican and even Democratic politicians in some states.

This issue hence requires nuance. Progressive politicians must show that good governance will benefit all peoples—both majority and minorities—as well as protect their dignity and status.

But economic justice is just one piece of the puzzle. Radicalisation among educated and middle-class youth often happens not because they feel poor or oppressed, but because they want meaning in their lives.

The key is persuading young people that voting, being in political parties and civil society as well as participating in policy debates can not only improve their economies, but also make their societies more equal, improve their sense of self-worth and genuinely build their nations.

What needs to happen is that the political class has to:
a. Reduce the barriers to entry for politics for younger figures.
b. Recognize that youth-driven political causes like environmentalism and universal basic income must now be in the mainstream of political discourse.
c. Not scoff or trivialise the influence of social media on politics. We must fight against fake news, of course—but also recognize that Twitter, Instagram and Facebook etc. are serious factors in our democracies.

It is certainly not right for European countries to seek to clamp down on immigration or multiculturalism. We live in a world now where every country is being judged via the 24/7 news cycle and social media.

The West needs to live up to its own values—and it must also have confidence in its own civilization. It should not fear what immigrants do to their values: if Western civilization was really that strong, noble, enlightened and tolerant—all peoples who encounter it would embrace it regardless of their background.

I believe this can be the case. Alienation happens—both among Westerners and immigrants—when the West’s leaders engage in hypocrisy, double-standards or fail to live up to their ideals.

This is something that Asia also must live up to—including Muslim societies and also emerging powers like China – look at the situation of the detention of over a million Uyghurs.

We need all societies to remain open and to also be confident of themselves. At the end of the day, this can only happen with both justice at home and justice abroad.

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.