Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Scenes from Malaysia's Culture War

Here are two recent developments from Malaysian Islamists' culture war against tolerance, both reported by Middle East Times:

-Authorities in a Malaysian state plan to use exorcists to deal with holders of "deviant" Islamic beliefs:

Kelantan's Islamic Affairs Department director, Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahman, said that the exorcists were well-versed in the Koran and would drive out evil spirits from cult followers who follow "deviant" teachings, the Star reported.


"This is where exorcism may be needed to flush out the unhealthy elements through spiritual Islamic teachings," he said.

Mainly Muslim Malaysia is always on the lookout for Islamic cults that it says deviate from traditional teachings and practice.

Abdul Aziz said that authorities had identified 16 cults in the state in the past decade and had jailed, whipped, or fined members found guilty of spreading irregular teachings.

-In an unprecedented verdict, a court awarded custody of the children of a mixed Hindu-Muslim marriage to the Hindu father. Of course, if it wasn't for the Islamists, the couple wouldn't be apart to begin with:

Selangor Islamic authorities last month forcibly separated ethnic Indian P. Marimuthu from his ethnic Indian Muslim wife of 21 years, Raimah Bibi Noordin and six of their seven children.

During a high court hearing west of Kuala Lumpur, Raimah, 39, clad in traditional Malay floor-length attire with a Muslim headscarf, told the judge that she was voluntarily giving up custody of her children.

"I agree to hand over the custody of my children to my husband to be raised as Hindus," Raimah said, before she broke down in tears.

(Emphasis added-DD)

Tragically, while Raimah will have visitation rights, she will continue to be kept apart from her family:

Islamic authorities said that they separated the couple after they recently found out that she was a Muslim.

"I have had discussions with my husband ... with regard to the predicament facing the both of us, and I hereby state that I was born a Muslim and I wish to continue professing the Islamic faith," Raimah said in an affidavit to the court.

Marimuthu has said that Raimah, an ethnic Indian, was adopted by an Indian Muslim family but was a practicing Hindu.

They were married 21 years ago according to Hindu rites and raised their seven children, aged four to 14, as Hindus, he said.

Such a vile display of intolerant fanaticism makes a mockery of the Malaysian constitution's guarantee of religious freedom.


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