Umno says muzakarah will head off extremism among Malays
KUALA LUMPUR, May 22 — Umno leaders want a “muzakarah” with PAS to stem “fanaticism and extremism” among Malay Muslims, warning that a failure to act could lead to conflict such as the centuries-old civil strife between Sunnis and Shias in war-torn Iraq.
Although lawmakers from the ruling Malay party accused their political rivals of having sown the seeds of discord among the “ummah” by mixing religion with politics, they told The Malaysian Insider a muzakarah was crucial to quell “hate and violence” among Muslims and anxiety from non-Muslims.
“When you go to the kampungs, Malays treat each other like enemies because some groups go all out to create hate and violence.
“If this continues, we will end up with Muslims killing each other like in Iraq,” Pasir Salak MP Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman, referring to the Middle Eastern nation where sectarian violence has escalated since the United States-led invasion in 2003.
The FELCRA chairman and other Umno leaders also clarified that while they did not seek a political union between the two largest Malay parties, a dialogue was needed as PAS has been causing divisions among Muslims “until they don’t even pray together at the local mosque, but go to the PAS markas (camp).”
Barisan Nasional (BN) backbenchers club deputy chief Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin admitted that both parties made political statements involving religion and this was causing Muslims to become “emotional”.
“This leads to violence, as you can see during Bersih,” the Kinabatangan MP said, referring to the April 28 rally where protestors and police clashed in the streets of the capital.
The proposed talks between the two parties were revived when PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said last Wednesday the party was willing to hold talks with any party including Umno or non-governmental organisations in furtherance of uniting Muslims in the country.
However, after it was well-received by Umno, several top PAS leaders said that the ruling party has misunderstood the proposal as a political union when it was only an offer to explain its stand on religious matters.
Nik Aziz, who is also Kelantan mentri besar, then set conditions on Saturday for any proposed muzakarah to be held before the coming elections — that Umno must change its policies to prioritise Islam and accept PAS together with its Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partners.
Umno leaders including former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as well as Malay Muslim NGO leaders criticised the Islamist party for not being sincere by setting such conditions.
Former Selangor Mentri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo told The Malaysian Insider that the suggestion was a mere political gimmick despite such discussions being for the “good of unity for all Malaysians not just Malays.”
“At the grassroots level, there are so many fanatics. The Quran is being used for politics. When too many Muslims don’t understand Islam, then non-Muslims will also become anxious,” the Sungai Panjang assemblyman said.
He cited the confusion over hudud, a set of Islamic punitive laws, as an example where PAS has made non-Muslims tense and uneasy.