Monday, November 14, 2005

Open up the "tudung" discussion

I read the open letter by Sisters in Islam published in The Sun today (p.18 Feature & Letters titled "Don't enforce dress code on women undergraduates"), giving yet another perspective on the controversial "tudung" issue. This letter follows another commentary also published in The Sun on the same issue here.

The SIS letter was most impressive given that it was a non-judgmental opinion on this issue from the point of view of a Muslim women's rights group. These days, issues touching on the sensitivities of Malay Muslims and their Islamic practices in Malaysia has been much politicised and it is very refreshing to read that there are Muslims out there who are honest enough to declare that "... the climate of discussion on Islam in this country has left non-Muslim minorities with very few options. Many non-Muslim Malaysians therefore defer to the coercive will of the Muslim majority, while those who challenge this coercive will usually face varying levels of ostracism and public humiliation."

How very true and how very brave of SIS to raise the deep concerns of the minority communities in Malaysia. The fact of the matter is that although Malaysia is a secular country, non-Muslims are sometimes made to feel like they are increasingly under siege from the overzealous religionists bent on pushing forward their own personal agendas in the name of Islam. It is now considered politically incorrect for the minorities to complain publicly anymore. And it would be political suicide for any member of BN component parties representing the minority groups to raise a similar protest in public.

Thank you for being brave, Sisters in Islam, and for being good sisters to all your fellow Malaysians, irrespective of their race or religion. You deserve my highest respect for promoting the teachings of Islam on a platform of moderation and compassion.



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