Connect The Dots : Musings #LoyarBerkasih

Dismantled And Reassembelled | Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/saadsuhairiphotography

Dismantled And Reassembelled | Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/saadsuhairiphotography

It’s always about mutual acceptance and respect because in the end it’s not about winning arguments, but our relationship with each other, a little note on Azan.

There are some days while chilling, or relaxing with some friends of mine, I would tend to share what I’ve experienced as a student in a racially segregated environment. I’ve had 11 years of it, and there are many, both good and bad, but I am inclined to censor myself depending on my audience, as some people cannot accept it as it is or derive a different value from what I want to convey.

One of my closer colleagues, whose honesty and humour I value highly, said this to me, “You weird, weird girl. Why are you like this when anyone else would be similarly indoctrinated?”

He pretty much described my inner insecurities accurately when I was much younger, that I simply didn’t fit in. I wasn’t a nicely drawn little box that can be placed in a little label, and boy did it make a lot of people unhappy. Even now.

Difference in race and religion does not faze or fear me because on a personal level, I have relatives who are of different ethnicity and religion. To many of the population in Malaysia, (and I’m not limiting my observations to the Malays, mind you) their daily interactions are mainly with those of a similar race and religion, except for the occasional shopkeeper, maid or random people on the street, who are quickly forgotten as they move on with their daily lives.

Another friend of mine illustrates this quite succinctly. In one of the sessions we had in Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM), one mother of three came up to me and said:

“I live in a Chinese community. All my neighbours are Chinese. My children are home schooled so they mostly interact with Chinese children. I thought that I should only protect my community, because no one else would. I never thought that there would be Malays who believe that people of all race and religion should be treated the same.”

In short, the idea of racial harmony and acceptance had never occurred to her, this mother of three. Perhaps, we are all thinking about the same things and sharing the same concerns. Perhaps it could possible to share everything and have a win-win situation.

One Malaysia | Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shahdi

One Malaysia | Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/shahdi

It is important to think of how this country could change, if people are the same and I don’t mean the 1Malaysia humbug. If we could think in that way, even with the difficulties that are foreseen for implementation on state level, it could be done. Intrinsically, people want to be accepted and respected for who they are as individuals as well as a community.

This can be seen in Haris Ibrahim’s remarkably bold attempt with Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM).

For me, I am blessed in the sense that despite my upbringing, I have met wonderful people in my life who showed me in the little ways that makes them the way they are, that everyone has something in common. We fight, we laugh, we angst, we geek out, and through all of that, race has never crossed our minds as part of the problem. It’s human behaviour, and a part of life. It’s always about mutual acceptance and respect because in the end it’s not about winning arguments, but our relationship with each other.

Perhaps, things would be different if we understood each other’s needs, and find a way that is most agreeable. Instead of insisting about Malay pride, or Chinese people, or Indians or the other minorities, we should be grateful that we are blessed with a diverse culture in this beloved nation. This can be seen in the Azan issue where a minor comment with regard to its volume was blown out of proportion and deemed disrespectful to Islam, when in truth, the person was not against the Azan, but its volume.

Priest Leaving | Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/baklavabaklava

Priest Leaving | Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/baklavabaklava

Similarly, what if a Catholic priest’s sermons in Latin is on loudspeaker? (e.g. for the sake of of illustration, in the scenario that it is within its scriptures, which by the way, it is not), I’m sure a Muslim neighbour would not mind it, but will insist that it be in a tolerable volume as to not disrupt his life.

The most beautiful thing in the world is that no matter how different we are, the colour of our skin, the deities or God that we serve or lack thereof, the activities we consider as fun or boring, there is always several, and I daresay more than five things we would always have in common with each other.

Oh, by the way, the mother of three? She’s currently one of our kakis in SABM.

Happy 2011!

Azira considers Orion as her guardian warrior and prays to Astraea for guidance. She still harbours enduring hope to see the demise of state-enforced race-based policies in Malaysia. She is often found at Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia


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Posts by Azira Aziz

This young lawyer harbours hope that one day Malaysians irrespective of ethnicity and religion have equal rights under the law, as we all are before the eyes of God. She is moving with UndiMsia! (http://UndiMsia.com) and will always be an Anak Bangsa Malaysia. (http://SayaAnakBangsaMalaysia.net)

Posted on 10 February 2011. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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9 Responses to Connect The Dots : Musings #LoyarBerkasih

  1. Lucy

    Azira,

    When I was growing up in Penang, I had friends from all races & religion. We never saw each other as different. However when I entered a local university, I saw that we were segregated according to our races & for the first time in my life, I was not 'Chinese enough'. On a personal level, it was hard to accept that such things exist & I tried to fight it & was labeled 'difficult' & was often ostracized by my own community. But I have no regrets & make no apologies for my decisions. I am now happily married with a wonderful man of a different race & try to teach our kids to embrace the diversity of both our backgrounds. Of late it is disheartening to hear racially tinged news but I am always happy when I read articles like yours which reminds me of my childhood, which makes me believe we can do it again!

  2. Eric

    Secret filming at Muslim schools in Birmingham and Yorkshire shows pupils being beaten and ‘taught Hindus drink cow p***’

    By TAZEEN AHMAD

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1356361/H…

    The film shows children as young as six sitting on the floor of a large room in the mosque, one of the biggest in the country. The boys are hunched over wooden benches, rocking backwards and forwards as they rote-learn the Koran in Arabic. A man with a long white beard dressed in a traditional shalwar kameez – tunic and trousers – sits at the head of the class.

    ‘He slaps one boy, strikes another and kicks a third’

    Periodically he gets up and walks behind the boys. As he passes, the children appear to cower and watch him nervously. It soon becomes clear why.

    He unexpectedly raises his hand and slaps a young boy hard on the head. Moments later he strikes another. And then he kicks a third child.

    In just two days of filming in December 2010, the camera recorded the teacher hitting children as young as six or seven at least ten times, in less than three hours of lessons.

    From what we could see, every ¬single blow was pretty much unprovoked. We soon realised that the beatings were routine. The behaviour of the boys, the way they flinched and backed away when he approached, indicated that they were long-accustomed to being hit and kicked as they studied.

    In another incident an older boy, left in charge of a class while a teacher is out at prayer, picks up a bench and threatens to hit a younger boy with it.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1356361/H…

  3. melvis

    Azira, don't worry, it's not about fitting in, it's about making a difference, isn't it? And you are doing just that!

  4. farha

    Nice piece, azira.

    Don't worry….I didn't fit in either….and I still don't :)

  5. This is indeed a beautiful piece Azira. You remind me so much of my friend, Salmah.

  6. June Rubis

    We need more of Azira Aziz's in this nation of ours! Beautiful piece, Azira. Thank you for writing this.

  7. Eric

    Disturbing trend for the month of February:

    2011.02.08 Thailand Yala?1 Killed 1 Injured?

    A 58-year-old Buddhist man and his wife are shot in their pickup truck by Muslim ‘insurgents’.

    ?2011.02.07 Iraq Iskandariya?2 Killed 0 Injured

    A woman is among two Iraqis murdered by Mujahideen bombers.?

    2011.02.07 Afghanistan Bak?1 Killed 0 Injured

    A local official is assassinated by Sunni fundamentalists.

    2011.02.07 Afghanistan Kandahar?1 Killed 5 Injured

    ?An Afghan is taken out by a Fedayeen suicide bomber.?

    2011.02.06 Pakistan Nut Kallan?1 Killed 0 Injured

    ?A young Christian is tortured to death by several Muslims.

    ?2011.02.06 Philippines Kabacan?6 Killed 6 Injured

    ?A 4-year-old boy is among six civilians killed in the crossfire when rival Religion of Peace groups shoot at each other.?

    2011.02.06 Pakistan Quetta?1 Killed 0 Injured?

    Muslim radicals are suspected in the shooting death of a Hindu man.

    ?2011.02.06 Indonesia Banten?3 Killed 6 Injured?

    Three members of the Ahmadiyah minority sect are dragged out of their homes and beaten to death by a Sunni mob chanting ‘Allah Akbar’.?

    2011.02.05 Iraq Balad?2 Killed 3 Injured

    ?Sunni bombers target a Shia shrine, killing two pilgrims.?

    2011.02.05 Philippines M’lang?2 Killed 0 Injured

    ?Two farmers are shot to death in their field by Moro Islamists.

    ?2011.02.05 Pakistan Khyber?3 Killed 2 Iinjured

    ?Three civilians are ripped to pieces by a car bomb.?

    2011.02.05 Pakistan Karak?4 Killed 0 Injured

    ?Four civilians are abducted and shot to death. Notes pinned to their bodies accuse them of being Jewish spies.

    ?2011.02.04 Thailand Yala?2 Killed 0 Injured?

    Two security personnel are murdered by Muslim bombers.?

    2011.02.04 Afghanistan Kandahar?1 Killed 3 Injured?

    Women and children are among the casualties when Jihadi bombers target a market.?

    2011.02.04 Pakistan Karachi?1 Killed 0 Injured?

    A Shia leader dies from wounds suffered in a sectarian attack the night before.?

    2011.02.04 Iraq Tuz Khormato?3 Killed 0 Injured?

    Two teenage boys are among three Iraqis blown to bits in a targeted bombing.

    ?2011.02.04 Thailand Pattani?1 Killed 2 Injured?

    Militant Muslims fire into a Buddhist village, killing one.?

    2011.02.03 Thailand Pattani?5 Killed 2 Injured?

    Muslim militants spray a group of elderly Buddhists at a market with machine-gun fire, killing five.?

    2011.02.03 Mauritania Bezoul?1 Killed 0 Injured?

    A local cop is gunned down by al-Qaeda militants.

    ?2011.02.03 Afghanistan Kunduz?3 Killed 0 Injured

    ?A man and his two young sons are ripped to shreds by Taliban bombers.

    ?2011.02.03 Pakistan Lahore?3 Killed 27 Injured

    ?Islamic militants bomb a rival shrine during food distribution, killing three.

    ?2011.02.03 Iraq Baghdad?6 Killed 24 Injured?

    Three Mujahid bombings take down six Iraqis.

    ?2011.02.03 Thailand Pattani?1 Killed 0 Injured?

    Muslim radicals slit the throat of a 49-year-old plantation worker.

    ?2011.02.03 Iraq Ramadi?6 Killed 19 Injured?

    A Shahid suicide bomber murders six Iraqis.

    ?2011.02.02 Pakistan Peshawar?10 Killed 26 Injured?

    Women and children are among a dozen innocents slain when Sunnis set off a bomb at a crowded market.

    ?2011.02.02 Somalia Mogadishu?3 Killed 0 Injured?

    Three civlians are murdered by Muslim roadside bombers.?

    2011.02.02 Pakistan Anargi?3 Killed 4 Injured?

    Three local security forces are killed in a Tehreek-e-Taliban attack on their post.?

    2011.02.02 Iraq Baghdad?6 Killed 18 Injured?

    Six Iraqis are killed in a series of Jihad attacks.

    ?2011.02.02 Russia Chegem?5 Killed 0 Injured?

    Islamic radicals burst into a cafe and gun down five traffic cops in cold blood.

    ?2011.02.02 Pakistan Vehari?1 Killed 0 Injured?A 14-year-old girl is slowly shocked to death by her family for refusing to marry a cousin.?

    2011.02.01 Thailand Yala?4 Killed 0 Injured

    ?Two Buddhist children, ages 7 and 15, are kidnapped and shot to death by Religion of Peace ’separatists’.

    ?2011.01.31 Bangladesh Shariatpur 14-year-old girl is lashed to death on the orders of a Sharia council. Her”crime” having been raped by a 40 yr old married man.?

    previous months: http://thereligionofpeace.com/??

    ..

  8. Eric

    sorry again:

    Indonesia’s president said violent, hard-line groups should be disbanded after mobs set churches on fire and killed three members of a minority Islamic sect.?The attacks raised concerns about escalating religious intolerance in the secular nation that has more than 220 million Muslims, most of whom are moderate.?President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono – who relies heavily on Islamic parties in parliament and rarely criticises hard-liners – did not identify any group by name.?But he said such violence “was against the law” and groups involved “should be disbanded”.?On Sunday, 1,500 hard-liners attacked Ahmadiyah sect members with sticks and machetes, killing three men.?On Tuesday, a mob set two churches ablaze to protest against a Christian’s blasphemy sentence as too lenient.?Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news…?

  9. Eric

    Sorry Azira, don't mean to kick sand in your cereal … can't help myself.

    2009:

    GROZNY, Russia — The bullnecked president of Chechnya emerged from afternoon prayers at the mosque and with chilling composure explained why seven young women who had been shot in the head deserved to die.

    Ramzan Kadyrov said the women, whose bodies were found dumped by the roadside, had "loose morals" and were rightfully shot by male relatives in honor killings.

    "If a woman runs around and if a man runs around with her, both of them are killed," Kadyrov told journalists in the capital of this Russian republic.

    The 32-year-old former militia leader is carrying out a campaign to impose Islamic values and strengthen the traditional customs of predominantly Muslim Chechnya, in an effort to blunt the appeal of hardline Islamic separatists and shore up his power. In doing so, critics say, he is setting up a dictatorship where Russian laws do not apply.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29445232/