In the past few weeks, it has become apparent there are groups determined to silence differences of opinion in Islam. This is a matter of grave concern to Malaysians as a whole.
At a time when Islam is increasingly shaping and redefining Malaysian life and society, law and public policy, this effort to exclude critical and diverse voices engaged in the discourse of Islam in Malaysia today violates the fundamental liberties of citizens of a democratic country. It is also a violation of Islam’s cherished principle of scholarly disagreement among all schools of thought. Criticism of the views of certain ulama does not mean disrespect for the ulama.
We regard this attempt, to use the law to make differences of opinion in Islam a crime, as a dangerous effort to monopolise the meaning and content of Islam, with far reaching consequences on all spheres of Malaysian public life.
In a situation where Islam has become such a pervasive force, it is inherently contradictory then to suggest that only those with certain credentials and subscribing to one view have the legitimate right to speak on Islam.
For Islam to be relevant and better understood by Malaysians, all must participate in defining what Islam means to us as citizens in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society.
All citizens, Muslims and those of other faiths, have a right to engage in a dialogue on issues of national importance that affect our lives, be it religion, economics, politics, education, culture, or social issues.
Within the framework of a democratic society, we the undersigned call for an open, responsible, rational and respectful dialogue on Islam and its impact on our lives, both private and public.
Freedom of expression is a universal value guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and upheld in the teachings of Islam. This fundamental right, which extends to all citizens in all religious and secular matters, must be protected and strengthened, not just by the authorities and influential sectors of the community, but also by all in civil society.
Endorsed by Organisations:
1. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
2. Amnesty International Malaysia
3. Artist Pro Active (APA)
4. Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
5. Centre for Independent Journalism
6. Civil Rights Committee of Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (CRC)
7. Era Consumer (ERA)
8. Forum Iqra’
9. International Movement for a Just World (JUST)
10. Labour Resource Center (LRC)
11. Malaysian AIDS Council
12. Malaysian Local Democracy Initiatives (MALODI)
13. Movement Opposing Unethical Suppression of Expression (MOUSE)
14. Penang Anti-ISA Network (PAIN)
15. Persatuan Kebangsaan Hak Asasi Manusia (HAKAM)
16. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita
17. Save Ourselves! (SOS!)
18. Sisters in Islam (SIS)
19. SOS Selangor
20. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
22. Tholilaliyin Tholar (Sahabat Pekerja)
24. Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
25. Women’s Candidacy Initiative (WCI)
26. Women’s Crisis Centre (WCC)
27. Women’s Development Collective (WDC)
28. Women’s Voice
29. United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong)
30. United Chinese School Teachers’ Association of Malaysia (Jiao Zong)
1. Azah Aziz
2. Dato’ Dr Salleh bin Mohd Nor
3. Dato’ Lee Lam Thye
4. Dato’ Mahadev Shankar
5. Dato’ VC George
6. Datuk Param Coomaraswamy
7. Dr Mohammad Hirman Ritom Abdullah
8. Dr R. S. McCoy
9. Karim Raslan
10. Karpal Singh
11. Khairy Jamaluddin
12. Khoo Kay Jin
13. Lim Guan Eng
14. Lim Kit Siang
15. Muzaffar Tate
16. Prof Dato’ Mohd Hamdan Adnan
17. Prof Dr Faisal Othman
18. Prof Dr Muhammad Hashim Kamali
19. Prof Dr Osman Bakar
20. Prof Dr Shad Faruqi
21. R. Bhupalan
22. Rita Sim
23. Sivarasa Rasiah
24. Tan Sri Dato’ Haji Anuar Dato’ Hj. Zainal Abidin
25. Tan Sri Dato’ Musa bin Hitam
26. Tan Sri Datuk Seri Panglima Simon Sipaun
27. Tan Sri Dr Noordin Sopiee
28. YB Tan Seng Giaw
29. YB Teresa Kok