Najib, Islam and the 13th General Election in Malaysia

There is consensus that Islam in Malaysia is politicised and it is bringing disastrous consequences to Malaysia. In the latest politicization of Islam, UMNO is doing its best to raise its Islamic credentials both domestic and internationally, while seeking to undermine Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the opposition, and Malaysia’s most prominent Muslim.

Amrita Malhi illustrates perfectly, through this article in Inside Story, on how the Malaysian government and the opposition, uses the Gaza issue to raise its Islamic credentials both for the domestic and international audience. How ironic that the UMNO-led Malaysian government is promoting its Islamic credentials, utilising a public relations firm, that the leader of the opposition accuses of developing Ehud Barak’s One Israel campaign.

Given the competition between UMNO and Anwar Ibrahim and PAS for the Malay Muslim electorate, Islamic fundamentalists on the side of UMNO have had immunity in pushing radical ideas while PAS and Anwar Ibrahim have been vilified for taking a moderate stance.

The most recent example being the statement by the Institute of Islamic Understanding (IKIM), a tax payer funded government think-tank in support of UMNO sponsored Islamic scholars:

Islam says that not all religions are equal, the federal government’s main religious think tank Ikim clarified today, as Umno-linked scholars began an attack on Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for promoting religious pluralism.

The Institute of Islamic Understanding’s (Ikim) statement comes just a day after a forum organised by Islamic scholars accused the opposition leader of equating Islam with other religions for political mileage.

The forum was heavily-promoted by Umno’s Utusan Malaysia today with stories suggesting that religious pluralism was a threat to Islam and claiming that Anwar was pushing for other religions to be placed on an equal footing with Islam.

The newspaper said that those who question the position of Islam and the Malays were practitioners of religious pluralism, in what appears to be a move to suggest that Anwar’s rejection of Umno’s “ketuanan Melayu” concept is unIslamic.

It appears that Najib has now moved from race to religion to drive a wedge between the opposition coalition. Pakatan Rakyat, sensing the bait, has taken preemptive measures. Furthermore, Pakatan Rakyat has taken the unprecedented step to affirm the position of Islam as stated in the constitution in its 10 point election manifesto.