Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Religious extremists cause of clampdown on freedom of speech, says Marina

BY ELIZABETH ZACHARIAH


Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir feels that in their eagerness to enforce Shariah law, the relevant authorities are pushing aside any efffort to debate and discuss the topic. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, May 25, 2015.
Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir feels that in their eagerness to enforce Shariah law, the relevant authorities are pushing aside any efffort to debate and discuss the topic. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, May 25, 2015.


















Rights activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir today blamed overzealous religious extremists for clamping down on freedom of speech adding there was a lack of space for dialogue to discuss public issues.

Speaking at a roundtable discussion titled, Maqasid al Shariah (The Higher Objectives of the Shariah), she said for consensus to be reached in society, there must be debate and discussions beforehand.
In a question posed to the speaker, renowned Islamic scholar Dr Jasser Auda, Marina asked how consensus could be reached if there were restrictions on having dialogues.
"If we want to have consensus, there must be debates and discussions. And everyone must be able to give their points of view," she said during the open discussion.
"But we're finding now that in the enthusiasm to enforce or impose the Shariah law, debate and discussions on the issue are shoved completely to the side."
Marina, who is the daughter of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, added: "Our ability to voice our views is severely limited. How can we achieve consensus with this attitude?"
Jasser agreed that there could be no consensus unless there were discussions but noted that it had to be constructive.
"Sometimes, in dialogues, people offend others and fundamentals of society in the name of dialogue," the member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research said.
"A non-Muslim has every right to question the rationale of a law that applies to them. A Muslim too, can do that, if he doesn't agree to something."
Earlier, Jasser said that elements of human rights was an Islamic concept, noting that it also included the preservation of human life and dignity.
"When you start applying it to society and you start asking yourself what does it mean to protect someone's dignity in society, then you find yourself speaking about human rights," he said.
"To me, this is an Islamic concept. How can you protect dignity, the freedom from torture and protection of life, the right to education."
However, he also agreed that freedom of speech, for instance, was not the same in the Islamic context compared to in Europe.
"It's not equal to the European concept of freedom of speech. We can agree on the principles but when it comes to the application, we might find that denying God or criticising the Prophet is a crime but you don't.
"Or you might find the Holocaust a crime and I don't.
"However, I do find the Holocaust a crime, just to clarify," he said, as the 50 people in attendance burst into laughter.
Besides Marina, those who attended the roundtable discussion, which was organised by the Global Movement of Moderates, included PAS lawmaker Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa, DAP's Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong, Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) deputy director-general Dr Yusaini Yusoff and Musawah's Zainah Anwar. – May 25, 2015.The Maqasid al Sharia (The Higher Objectives of the Sharia) discussion held at the Global Movement of Moderates office in Kuala Lumpur today.  – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, May 25, 2015.The Maqasid al Sharia (The Higher Objectives of the Sharia) discussion held at the Global Movement of Moderates office in Kuala Lumpur today. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, May 25, 2015.
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