Many in Malaysia are clear in their conscience and have been registering their concern for Palestine, as the ‘war’ involving Israel and Hamas escalates.
However, the Malaysian prime minister has an urgent task to clarify, educate and pacify growing concerns lately over the direction he is taking.
Anwar Ibrahim reportedly has just addressed some 300 Malaysians living in the Middle East.
In Riyadh he said, “Malaysia’s determination to fight for the cause of the Palestinians, who continue to be oppressed by Israel, is not because it wants to be a ‘hero’ but rather on the basis of the responsibility to defend Muslims.
“The Muslim ummah is challenged and tested… hence, we must show our firmness,” he reportedly said.
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The question is, why assert that Malaysia will defend the “Muslims” in Palestin? Are there no non-Muslims in Gaza equally affected by the injustices and devastating war currently raining on civilians of all creeds and ethnicities?
Shouldn’t Anwar, as the leader of a multi-racial and multi-religious nation, have seized the opportunity to bring some sense into a world that is markedly being led astray by a ‘my religion-verses-yours’ divisiveness and racist madness?
The world cannot afford a global war, especially one defined by religious or racial boundaries, as it would be deadly to humanity.
Anwar will surely agree that, back in Malaysia, such statements by him may help swing Malay-Muslim votes in his favour.
But the problem is, it can also prove to be a lethal concoction that could further divide the nation and create a religious schism. Remember, the people of this nation are of various faiths, such as Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.
Right-minded leaders need to see the plight of Palestinians as a humanitarian dilemma that must be stopped before it becomes a global contagion.
There should be no religious or ethnic stereotyping. We need to see all this bloodshed as an atrocity against humans.
In fact, Anwar’s statement in Riyadh does not jive with what his daughter is championing tomorrow. Nurul Izzah is expected to be the guest of honour at a rally that will be held by a couple of civil society groups in Kuala Lumpur, which is estimated to draw thousands of concerned people of all races and religions.
People are also wary of international reports of certain leaders outside Malaysia who have questioned Malaysia’s stand regarding Hamas.
Hopefully, the PM will make amends and seize the occasion to build bridges among people of all faiths in Malaysia, as well as make collective efforts to broker for peace – for the sake of humanity and justice in Palestine.