For maximum effect, click the play button below.
Walski first got to know about the latest spate of book banning earlier this week, while he was still on vacation. Courtesy of the following news article in The Star.
Now, anyone who's been following this blog for any considerable period of time would know that few things irritate Walski like censorship does. But censorship is only part of the issue here.
We have just been alerted to another round of book bannings by the Book Censhorhip DIvision of the Internal Security Ministry.
This time it includes a very important book by a very progressive religious scholar from Indonesia, Kyai Hussein Muhammad who runs a pesantren in Cirebon and sits on the Women’s Commission, appointed by the President of Indonesia.
This is really disgraceful as the govt is sending out the message that anything written about equality and justice for women in Islam is considered a threat to national security!
And yet the PM goes on and on talking about a rational and progressive Islam that is open to reinterpretation to meet the challenge of change; the 9th Malaysia Plan and the cabinet committee on gender equality has set a minimum quota of 30%women in decision making positions, Islam Hadhari promises to eliminate injustice agianst women - are these all empty words?
(read the rest of the letter here)
Civilizational Islam calls for banning of books? Or is it the case of the left hand napping, not having a clue what the right hand - or for that matter, the rest of the body - is up to?
Are we, in effect, being told that to achieve a higher level of civilization, we've got to de-Book 'Em, Danno?
(more Five-O in the full post, Danno)
Now, if you had read the article in The Star that Walski mentioned earlier, notice what the last paragraph says:
The books could create confusion and anxiety among Muslims and harm public peace if their publications were allowed to continue, said the statement.
How much more condescending can one get, you have to wonder? Any Muslim would feel insulted by this. Walski certainly is. Except, maybe, for those Muslims who actually believe that their minds are really that feeble, and that any attempt to use their brains will lead them to oblivion.
And who exactly decides what constitutes "the sanctity of Islam and its true teachings"? So, are we to believe that gender equity is against Islam? Walski wonders sometimes who died and left these ulamaniacs in charge...
Being a natural-born cynic, to Walski, he thinks that it's what distorts the sanctity of dogma that bothers these folks, apparently. Yet another one of those incongruences that makes Malaysia so enigmatically interesting.
In a very fucked up kind of way.
How the hell is anyone expected to become more progressive and civilizational when anything remotely thought provoking (particularly book-wise) is deemed a threat to national security? Or is the ideal Islam, in the blurry-eyed tunnel vision of these goons, one that continually regresses until we're safely back to the good 'ol days of the 10th century?
It really makes one wonder whether we're talking about the same Islam that, once upon a time, inspired Europe - a positive force enabling them to break free from the dark ages. The Islam we seem to be seeing in Malaysia today (at least, what's projected in the mainstream), on the other hand, is one that is progressively regressing.
God didn't command mankind to "Read" just for the heck of it... (surah 96, verse 1 in the Quran). Knowledge is a human attribute held in very high esteem, according to the Quran, and there is no better way of gaining it than by reading. Apparently, to these nay-sayers, knowledge is best kept by a select few ulamaniacs - not unlike during the dark ages of European civilization when knowledge was kept away from the masses by the Church.
The way things seem to be going, celebrating our own Five-O may just be Malaysia reaching her zenith, from which the big slide backwards begins...
Hadhari, or no Hadhari...