The real threat isn’t liberalism but the acceptance of illogical and unfounded doctrines that do not contribute to social development, says Syerleena Abdul Rashid.
There is a fine line between audacity and idiocy; and recently Prime Minister Najib Razak dangerously crossed that line.
During the launch of the Malaysia Wasatiyyah Institute on 14 May 2015, he brazenly downplayed the complexity of paedophilia by blaming liberalism for this disorder and cited Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin’s case as an example to reiterate his point.
Nur Fitri Azmeer Nordin is by definition a paedophile, though it is understood that while not all paedophiles are child molesters and vice versa, paedophilia is a mental disorder where a person is often defined by their desires. The international medical community, particularly the American Psychiatric Association (APA), has included “paedophilia in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) since 1968”.
According to the periodically updated DSM, this mental disorder has also been defined as “recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviours that involve children, nonhuman subjects, or other non-consenting adults, or the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner”. Paedophilia is a mental disorder and not a sexual orientation nor is it a lifestyle choice.
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While referring to the threat of liberalism, the Prime Minister stated: “We take the example of a student who was involved in a despicable activity in the UK recently that was shocking. It shows such elements exist among Muslims.”
Many seem to have forgotten (including the Prime Minister himself) that Najib is also a product of the very same education system he now condemns. Having attended both Malvern College and University of Nottingham, he spent a considerable amount of his formative years living in an environment surrounded by liberalism “under the guise of humanism, secularism, liberalism and human rights”. Is he condemning himself as well?
There is, without a doubt, an ongoing not-so-subtle movement dedicated to demonising humanism and liberalism. Many of our elected leaders from the far right are on that bandwagon, and surprisingly, our self-proclaimed moderate Prime Minister Najib Razak is also on board – but this is only to secure his own political survival.
It has become very clear that not many of our ministers understand what humanism is. Humanism is a “progressive philosophy of life that affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfilment that aspire to the greater good of humanity”. It is a belief system that emphasises ethics and universal values by identifying common human needs as a way to rationally solve issues plaguing modern society.
Surely, by this definition, the guiding principles of humanism are indeed in line with the teachings of Islam.
As the Prime Minister of a multi-religious and multicultural country that boasts 30m residents, he should lead by presenting a good role model for people to emulate and not by echoing the thoughts of the overzealous bigots who spew lies and one-sided extremist views. The Prime Minister often speaks of moderation but his actions show otherwise.
The real threat isn’t liberalism but the acceptance of illogical and unfounded doctrines that do not contribute to social development. Accepting oversimplified beliefs and embracing fanaticism in religion can end up ruining Muslim identity instead.