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Friday, May 18, 2018

Ex-MP fears return of Mahathir-Anwar brand of Islam

Tawfik Ismail says 'Islamofascism' was what they practised in the 80s and 90s.

PETALING JAYA - Former MP Tawfik Ismail has voiced concern that the renewed partnership of Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Anwar Ibrahim may see them resuming their promotion of what he alleges is a stifling brand of Islam.

Speaking to FMT, he said the Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement (Abim) had erred when it called on Anwar to continue pursuing his vision of a democratic Islam.

He said “Islamofacism” was what Mahathir and Anwar had practised in the 1980s and 1990s when they were prime minister and deputy prime minister.

On Wednesday, Abim president Mohamad Raimi Abdul Rahim told FMT that Anwar was among the first Muslim leaders to articulate the idea of Islam’s relevance in a plural society and the compatibility of its tenets with democratic ideals.

Tawfik, who served as MP for Sungai Benut between 1986 and 1990, said Raimi was wrong to suggest that Anwar’s version of Islam was desirable, alleging that Malaysia was still suffering the effects of the Mahathir-Anwar team’s attempt to out-Islamise PAS.

“Mahathir and Anwar went too far with their Penerapan Nilai Nilai Islam,” he said. “It was twisted. They set up institutions like the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and Biro Tata Negara, which intruded into private lives and turned personal sins into crimes.

“This killed creativity and free thinking in the Malays and created a dependence on certain individuals.”

Former Sungai Benut MP Tawfik Ismail
He said any attempt to present Islamic principles as values that could be adopted by all should be kept at the state level.

“Abim should sell its idea to the various states. That’s where religion belongs.

“We have religions other than Islam practised in the federation. We have MPs from different faiths. Therefore, in the interest of harmony, the federal government should be secular, governing fairly for all.”

Tawfik questioned what DAP and Pakatan Harapan (PH) component parties in East Malaysia had to say about the direction Islam took under Mahathir and Anwar.

“When they brought Mahathir into PH, did they forget that Islamofacism was a feature of the Mahathir-Anwar administration?”

He also rejected the argument put forth by Muslim groups that Islamisation would affect only Muslims.

“My argument is: why impose apartheid using religion as a disguise? Religious zealotry is the main factor holding back Malays from reaching their true potential.”

Meanwhile, activist lawyer Nik Elin Rashid noted that Mahathir had in a recent blog post stated that there would be a fresh look at Islam based on the Quran and selected hadiths.

“I hope it means there will be less reliance on juristic interpretations that have hindered progressive nationalism and unity in a multicultural society, and that the focus will be on forging inter-religious understanding,” she said.

By Sheith Khidhir Bin Abu Bakar

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