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Sunday, August 7, 2011

Swamy case: US civil group cautions Harvard

WASHINGTON | 30th July 2011 | ExpressBuzz: As thecontroversy over an article written by Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy snowballed, a US civil liberties group cautioned Harvard University on taking action against its Summer School instructor.
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Swamy, who earned his PhD from Harvard in 1965, penned an op-ed published July 16 in Mumbai’s DNA newspaper that advocated denial of voting rights to non-Hindus with the goal of stemming terrorist attacks in India.
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Following the publication of the article, several Harvard affiliates circulated a petition calling on the university to end its ties with Swamy. The petition has gathered 312 signatures to date and in a statement, the dean of the Summer School said that the school “will give this matter our serious attention”.
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But in a letter to University President Drew G. Faust, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a civil liberties group with a focus on academia, said the group is “concerned about the threat to freedom of expression” that may come about from that attention.
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“The threat of a disciplinary investigation of Swamy stands in sharp and unflattering contrast to this admirable and appropriate understanding of the importance of freedom of expression in the academic community,” Adam H. Kissel ’94, vice president of programmes at FIRE, wrote in the letter as cited by Harvard Crimson, the university newsletter.
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Harvard has not explicitly said that it is investigating Swamy or that it has considered such an investigation.
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Kissel wrote that an investigation of Swamy’s article would go against Harvard’s commitment to free speech, as outlined in the “Free Speech Guidelines” adopted by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1990.
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“If members of the Harvard community are given to understand that Harvard might begin an investigation-with possible disciplinary consequences-of the views they express, they likely will self-censor,” he wrote. “This is precisely the result that a university dedicated to intellectual freedom must seek to avoid.”
“Harvard must honour its own promises,” he told the Crimson in a phone interview.
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“Students have every right to protest for or against ideas in article, as does Harvard, but Harvard may not investigate or punish the expression.”
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After church aid to Muslims, Asri questions zakat funds for poor

The hundreds of millions in zakat collections annually made the difficulty for Muslims to secure aid dubious, said Asri. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 7 — Influential cleric Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin questioned today if red tape and the lack of state alms have forced impoverished Muslims to seek help from Christian churches.


The former Perlis mufti said it was not a sin for destitute Muslims to receive aid from non-Muslims, pointing out that the blame lay with practitioners of Islam who were supposed to help their fellow believers.

“Where have all our wang zakat (alms) gone? Collections of hundreds of millions of ringgit are announced every year,” said Asri in an essay sent to The Malaysian Insider today.

“Is it not enough to help the poor get out of their poverty without them having to ask others for help?” he questioned.

Pro-Umno newspapers Berita Harian and Harian Metro have highlighted since yesterday allegations that Christian organisations are secretly trying to convert impoverished Muslims through welfare aid.

The Malay dailies also reported today a Muslim woman claiming that she was forced to accept cash and free food from a church, after failing to get aid from Baitulmal or the state fund for the poor, which is generated from tithes collected from mosques.

The reports came after the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) and the police raided a multiracial dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday night, based on an allegation that Christians were proselytising to Muslim guests.

“Why is there so much red tape blocking the poor from getting alms? There is so much red tape just to get even RM100 to RM200. This is despite the zakat offices looking opulent, the high salaries for officers and bosses, and advanced equipment,” Asri lamented.

“Is the high cost meant only to find donors, but without sufficient willpower to find suitable recipients?” he asked.

The Muslim cleric queried how the zakat administration could fail to help destitute Muslims, so much so they longed to leave their faith.

“It is the right of anyone to help whomever they want. As long as rules and laws are followed, one can help another regardless of race or religion,” said Asri.

He also said it was peculiar for Muslims to renounce their faith in the Muslim-majority country because of unsatisfactory treatment from their fellow believers.

“There are many questions that Muslims must ask themselves before blaming others,” said Asri.

Christian churches demanded yesterday for evidence behind allegations that Christian charity groups were involved in covert conversions.

A priest has dismissed such allegations as old rumours used to pit Muslims against Christians.

Bishop Paul decries vilification of Christians


(Malaysiakini) Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing said today he was not surprised that “hard upon accusations by Jais of Christians proselytising Muslims comes unsubstantiated print media stories seemingly validating those claims.”

NONE“Need we be surprised?” asked the head of the Catholic Church in the Melaka-Johor diocese, who is concurrently president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Malaysia.

“It's depressing - this continuing trial of Malaysian Christians by innuendo and insinuation,” sighed the Jesuit-trained prelate in comments to Malaysiakini on the stories in today's editions of the Berita Harian and Harian Metro that quote a couple of Muslims claiming that they have been targeted by Christian groups as potential converts.

“I'm not surprised the stories in those papers do not have anything more than hearsay to back them,” said the bishop.

NONE“Those papers are owned by the powers-that-be who only recently elected to establish diplomatic ties with the Vatican.

“I don't know whether to laugh out in scorn or cry out in pain at their duplicity and the naivety of those who help them think that publicly expressed good intentions are a sufficient proof of sincerity.”

Use the power of your vote

The prelate advised Christians to press for proof by Jais (Selangor Islamic Affairs Department) that Christians are targeting Muslims for conversion, and that if such proof is not proffered soon, to act on what that implied at the next general election.

“Only through the ballot box can we bring this continuing vilification of Christians in Malaysians to a shuddering halt.

“Christians should press for proof and, if and when, it is unavailable, express clearly their disgust at the next general election,” said Bishop Paul Tan.

“The days of Christians in Malaysia being supine objects of the machinations of duplicitous politicians are over,” he thundered.

Ministry gets ready to receive first of asylum seekers

The Star
by ZUHRIN AZAM AHMAD

PUTRAJAYA: The first batch of asylum seekers under the refugee swap agreement between Malaysia and Australia is expected to arrive here early next week.

Although no exact date has been announced, officials at the Home Ministry are said to be making preparations to receive them.

However, it could not be confirmed how many refugees would be in the first batch.

A ministry official said that upon arrival, the refugees would be temporarily placed at a centre about 100km from Kuala Lumpur.

“The centre is a former resort,” the official said.

“The refugees will be housed there for up to 45 days where they will then be screened by the UNHCR to determine their status,” he added.

The selection of the former resort as the centre was agreed by both governments.

In Melbourne, Australia, the group that was due to be sent to Malaysia were said to be on hunger strike.

A refugees advocate movement said the group arrived on Christmas Island on Thursday.

The group includes 18 minors or people claiming to be minors. Up to 14 of them are unaccompanied.

Refugee Action Coalition spokesman Ian Rintoul claimed that the movement received a distress call from one of the asylum seekers on Friday.

“The short call said: We are in a bad way; we need help. We are starting a hunger strike',” Rintoul was quoted by the Australian Associated Press as saying.

He called on the Australian Government to give the group access to lawyers.

“The asylum seekers have committed no crime but are effectively being held incommunicado,” Rintoul said.

Pakatan begins work on alternative budget

A DAD told his young daughter it was forbidden to play with non-Muslim children, a court has been told.

When he went to court seeking custody of the little girl, who was born in 2007, a federal magistrate said it was disturbing that he had tried to alienate the girl from the non-Muslim community in Australia.

The Federal Magistrates' Court, sitting in Victoria, heard that the girl had refused to play with another, fair-haired girl during a visit with a family counsellor.

The girl allegedly said "Baba says it is haram", explaining to her mother that she was not allowed to play with non-Muslim children.
The family counsellor searched for the meanings of the words on the internet and discovered "Baba" meant father and "haram" meant forbidden, the federal court heard.

In a judgment published this week, Federal Magistrate Philip Burchardt ordered that the child live with her mother and spend time with the father every second weekend.

Mr Burchardt said the father was clearly a loving parent but he did not appear to have an understanding of his daughter's developmental needs.

"Furthermore, his conduct in seeking to alienate (the girl) both from the non-Muslim component of the Australian community and from her mother and grandmother is very disturbing," Mr Burchardt said.

The court heard that the parents had an arranged marriage but the mother claimed the relationship was characterised by physical and verbal abuse, claims denied by the father.

The father also denied telling his daughter who she could play with.

"(He) denied being in the business of telling the child that it was forbidden or otherwise bad to play with non-Muslims, but the evidence of (the family counsellor) makes it plain that he does," Mr Burchardt said.

The father, who is a devout Muslim, also complained to the family counsellor about the mother's style of dress.

Although he denied using denegrating words to describe his ex-wife, Mr Burchardt said his denials were dishonest.

"Putting the matter in the round, the father abhors the mother for no longer adhering to the style of life that he would wish her to," he said.

Photographs tendered to the court since the parties' separation were inconsistent with the mother's assertions she was still fearful of the father.

Mr Burchardt was unable to make a finding about whether there was family violence, nor on the mother's claim that the father had placed the girl under the front wheel of the mother's car to prevent her from driving off.

hadfields@heraldsun.com.au

Dear Cousin


This means Malaysians are easily fooled and would swallow hook, line and sinker any crap thrown in their direction. And this is one reason the government can’t allow Christians to talk to Malays. Malays are too stupid to analyse which religion is better -- Islam or Christianity -- and they would easily be tricked into leaving Islam to become Christians.

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin


Dear Cousin, 
I thought I should write to you and explain the current controversy raging in Malaysia regarding the recent church raid by the Selangor Religious Department. This follows closely behind the allegation that a meeting was held in Penang recently to plot turning Malaysia into a Christian state.

For someone who has once lived and worked in Malaysia I am sure you are quite perturbed by this turn of events because you had delightfully found Malaysians to be a peaceful and friendly community. And you in particular found the Malays, Indonesians and Filipinos a very easygoing people. Therefore, this hysteria about the Christian conspiracy is a far departure from what you understand the Malays to be.

I suppose, like me, you have a very different tolerance level towards other religions. Well, when we have Jews, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Atheists and Agnostics in our family, we tend to be more liberal and tolerant when it comes to religion. But then, we are in the minority and the majority of Muslims would probably view us as ‘deviants’.

Religion has never been tolerant. In England, I know, we do not have a problem of religious conflicts. But then, Cousin, you are looking at the England of today. Was the England of a few hundred years ago any less extreme? Remember the time when Jews had to wear ‘The Star of David’ on their chest and were forced to live in ghettos? Not enough with that, the Jews were later expelled from England and for a long time were banned from English soil.

Then we had a time when Catholics were arrested and burned alive and later, when a Catholic succeeded the throne of England, Protestants were arrested and burned alive. Even Queens suffered this fate. And this is Christian killing Christian, mind you, people who believe in the same God but did so differently (no different from the Sunni-Shiah situation in Islam today).

Maybe that was 400 years ago, you may say. Well, 400 years ago is not really that too long ago. And Islam was ‘founded’ 600 years after Christianity so you can expect Islam to be 600 years behind Christianity in some of its attitudes towards other religion -- just like how Christianity was back in the 1400s and 1500s.
Nevertheless, Muslims do not arrest and burn alive those considered ‘deviant Muslims’ or apostates.

Countries like Malaysia just detain them without trial and send them for religious rehabilitation, like what happened to me back in September 2008.

You must understand, Cousin, Islam is the official religion of Malaysia. And, according to the Federal Constitution, Malays are automatically Muslims. Furthermore, Jews, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists, etc., are by law not allowed to preach to Muslims. That would be a crime in Malaysia. And if you give a Muslim a copy of the Bible to read, especially if the Bible is in the Malay language, that would be a serious offense.

Muslims are not allowed to leave Islam and convert to other religions. Those that do, do so secretly. Invariably, they become ‘closet’ Christians, Hindus or Buddhists. They will not even dare tell their own family that they are no longer Muslims. Many migrate to other countries rather than stay in Malaysia as ‘ex-Muslims’.

Actually, the Malaysian government will not want to openly admit this, but quite a number of Malays have left Islam. Some have left Islam to become Christians (not so many become Hindus or Buddhists). But we do not know the real figures because very few would openly declare their apostasy for fear of arrest.

Then we have many Malays who are Muslims in name only but are not practising Muslims. They sort of ‘masquerade’ as Muslims but do not really believe in Islam. But they have to pretend they are still Muslims or else they will get ostracised by society and disowned by their families. 

So you see, Cousin, the Malaysian government needs to protect the Malays. If the Malays are exposed to the teachings of other religions many may actually leave Islam. The government is scared that the Malays are stupid and are easily tricked into turning their backs on Islam.

In Malaysia, we have an organisation whose job is to spread Islam and get non-Muslims to become Muslims. It is funded by the government and paid for by the taxpayers. Mosques and other religious activities are also government-taxpayers funded. So it is perfectly legitimate.

That, I suppose, is the bone of contention to most non-Muslims. The government propagates Islam and the taxpayers pay for this effort. But the non-Muslims may not propagate their religion to the Muslims even if they pay for this effort from their own pocket.

I know, to someone like you, this may sound extremely unfair and one-sided. The government propagates Islam and persuades non-Muslims to convert to Islam but the non-Muslims are not allowed to do the same and if they do they would get arrested.

But that is how things are done in Malaysia and for 54 years since Independence or Merdeka, the non-Malays have never complained. For twelve general elections, the non-Muslims have voted in the same government. In fact, the government depends on the votes of the non-Muslims. If solely based on Muslim votes, the present government would have been kicked out a long, long time ago.

So why make an issue of this only now? This state of affairs was acceptable for almost 54 years. Now, suddenly, it has become an issue. Why make an issue out of it now when for 53 years the non-Muslims could live with this situation?

This is why many Malays have become upset. They are of the opinion that the non-Muslims are beginning to be kurang ajar (insolent). When you thought you had no hope of gaining political power, you supported the party in power and tolerated the discrimination and persecution and did not utter one word of complaint. Now that you think the party in power is at the end of its rule and may soon get kicked out, you start shouting and screaming about religious discrimination and persecution.

I suppose England managed to change this sorry situation when they separated the church from the state. In Malaysia, however, church and state is still very much one and the same. And that is why what we see in Malaysia today is what we saw in England 500 years ago (minus the burning at the stake of course but replaced with detention without trial).

We must understand one thing, Cousin, and this is a very important point you must note. Malays may have been sent to school for an education but this does not mean you are smart just because you have gone to school and have received an education.

You see, Cousin, Malaysia’s education system does not teach us how to think. They just teach us how to pass our exams. This is the basis of Malaysia’s education system. So you may have gone all the way up to university level but that does not mean you are a thinker or that you have analytical skills (unless you had the advantage of a foreign education from young).

This means Malaysians are easily fooled and would swallow hook, line and sinker any crap thrown in their direction. And this is one reason the government can’t allow Christians to talk to Malays. Malays are too stupid to analyse which religion is better -- Islam or Christianity -- and they would easily be tricked into leaving Islam to become Christians.

But why would this be so? If the Malays are good Muslims and if Islam is a good religion, then surely they would not be easily tricked into leaving Islam to become Christians.

Ah, but that is just the problem. Most Malays are not good Muslims. In fact, most Malays do not even understand Islam properly. Like robots, they just blindly follow the rituals they have been taught without really understanding the substance and the foundation of the religion. Even dogs can be taught to do tricks and parrots taught how to speak. This does not mean dogs and parrots understand what they are doing and can analyse their actions.

This is the Malay, or rather the Malay-Muslim, dilemma. And because of that, the government needs to insulate and isolate Malays from the teachings of the other religions. If the government allows the Christians to preach Christianity to the Malays, there would be very serious danger that many Malays would become Christians.

That is the crux to the whole matter.

Norway killing spree from European eye

By Cedric Daanvey

Belgium:
Last Friday (July 22, 2011) we were all shocked in Europe to hear that a guy shot 90 teenagers in Norway. Everyone condemns the incidents fiercely, yet I noticed during the interviews that many of the victims were not Norwegian, as I thought before. They were many youngsters from what appears to be muslim origin!!!

The news messages speak of the political heart of Norway being hit, because the island event where the youngsters attended was organised by the Norwegian Socialist Party. What impressed me, is that a huge amount of their members are foreigners, apparently muslim foreigners more in particular!

It dawned on me that many of the Belgian socialist party members are also muslims (of course, where else should they be politically active: not the christian party, cos of the religion, and not the right wing parties either, cos they are not too keen on muslims).

I think that Brevik went berserk, as he saw Norway evolving towards a country where muslims are gradually becoming the decision makers and I can imagine Norway faces the same problem like elsewhere in Europe: formerly peaceful countries where human rights are paramount but suffering from increasing street violence and crime caused by muslims.

In addition, these very countries feel the imposing nature of their muslim citizens: they impose their will onto the Europeans, rather than respectfully obeying European/christian traditions and laws.
Just like Belgium, Norway is a country where human rights, the environment etc. (tree-hugging subjects the Americans would say) is more important than anything else, but just a lot worse. Norway is more peaceful than Belgium, the maximum prison sentence there is a mere 21 years!!! In Norway, a guy like me would easily end up in jail for speeding for instance, but a man who robs a bank or rapes a woman would be treated by psychologists and get minimum jail time! And because they are acting like a bunch of ******* (forgive my language) the muslim flooding is just a walk-over!!!
Seeing all this, a conservative and mentally ill christian like this Brevik, who was full of pent-up emotion, and coupled to his serious mental problem caused him to start a killing spree. A similar case happened several years ago in Antwerp: a young boy shot two muslims at random in broad daylight, because he hated them. The Norwegian guy just did it over, en masse.
As long as this northern European soft treatment of muslims carries on, more things like this may happen. But it will have an adverse effect anyway: muslims will get even more attention now and they will stand up for their rights even more, causing the Europeans to kowtow to them! People like Brevik fear this will ultimately lead to full muslim occupation in several decades, and he might just be right.

He tried to make a point with his heinous crime. I remember a similar thing happening in Mumbai, India where muslims killed many foreigners (christian and hindu). Norway experienced it the other way round.
Ever since my childhood I was brought up with the notion to be kind to other peoples. I was instilled with human rights since I went to primary school, yet it caused most people to have a distorted view of reality (like most politicians here) and when one is blind to see the facts, he will trip and fall. (And that is also why in many western christian countries, your (Sabah and Sarawak)case is not listened to).
This is my view on the horror in Norway and I guess it makes perfect sense. Only for the policymakers to figure this out ...

No law against Muslims in churches, says Bar Council

The Malaysian Insider
by Yow Hong Chieh


KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 — The Bar Council said there are no laws stopping Muslims from entering church premises, and accused the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) today of “disrespecting” the right to association by raiding a Petaling Jaya church this week.
Its president Lim Chee Wee also pointed out there is no law stating Muslims cannot be part of the audience at a thanksgiving event held in church premises, even if it contained religious elements like prayer and singing.

“By conducting such a raid... then taking down the particulars of Muslims found in attendance, treating them as though they had somehow broken the law, Jais has besmirched the good name and sullied the hard-earned reputation of Malaysia and her peoples for multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-faith acceptance,” he said in a statement.

“Especially in this month of Ramadan, one would have hoped that the Islamic religious authorities in Selangor would have focused their attention on more constructive pursuits rather than the disruption of a community thanksgiving dinner that brought together people of various races and faiths in peace, harmony and unity.”

Lim said the raid — which followed “insensitive” public service announcements (PSA) by 8TV — did not bode well for racial and religious harmony in Malaysia as their actions suggested that moderation was increasingly giving way to “mindless orthodoxy”.

“If, after almost 54 years of independence in Peninsular Malaysia, a state Islamic authority and a national television company can still display a form of arrogant authoritarianism and callous condescension in their actions, then we must collectively ask ourselves where we have failed as a nation,” he said.

He added that he welcomed the statement of regret offered by Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and urged that disciplinary action be taken against Jais officers responsible for the raid if they are found to have exceeded their authority.

“The civil authorities cannot allow the Islamic department to wantonly disrespect the fundamental rights and liberties of all citizens to gather and associate freely with one another,” Lim stressed.

Jais enforcement officers raided a dinner function at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church late Wednesday night without a warrant after receiving an unspecified complaint, bringing with them a team of policemen.

Between 100 and 120 people, including several Muslims, attended the non-religious event to celebrate non-profit outfit Harapan Komunity’s success in helping women, children, HIV/AIDS sufferers and victims of natural disasters.

Immediately after, Khalid called on Jais to furnish the state government with a full report on the purpose of the raid while assuring that the state government fully respects freedom of religion and rights of religious groups.

But state executive councillor Datuk Hasan Ali defended Jais’s actions, alleging that the words “Quran” and “pray” were used in the presence of 12 Muslims at the dinner and claimed this was proof Christians had been proselytising to Muslims there.

Hasan’s PAS colleague, Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad, then sought to distance the party’s state leadership from its former chief by saying it was “not Selangor PAS’s stance”, revealing a deep and continuing rift between the Islamist party’s liberal and more hardline factions in the state.

Muhyiddin: Review Teaching Of English In Schools

SEGAMAT, Aug 6 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has ordered the English Language Curriculum Division to have a relook at the learning of the language in schools to ensure students can master it as a second language.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said he had directed Education director-general Datuk Abdul Ghafar Mahmud to carry out a review on the learning of English Language in school.

"How the national education system involving 13 years, with five years of secondary school, is still unable to provide our students with a good grasp of the English Language, I, myself, am incapable of answering," he said in his speech during a visit to SMK Felda Maokil, Labis here Saturday.

Muhyiddin said the review might determine if the weakness was due to a shortage of English Language teachers, equipment or due to other causes.

He said mastery of the English Language was important because it was the main language in international communication and the economy.

He also rejected the perception that implementing the 'Uphold Bahasa Melayu, Strengthen the English Language' policy had resulted in the Education Ministry neglecting the English Language.

Muhyiddin also said the ministry had carried out a comprehensive survey of the nation's educational infrastructure, in its effort to provide the infrastructural need of schools.

He said, although his ministry had received a development allocation of between RM5 billion and RM6 billion, the amount was not enough because of the large number of schools in the country and the rapid population growth which required the constructions of new schools.

Internet users slam censorship of China train crash

Attempts by censors in China to cover up online criticism about a high-speed train disaster have not gone down well among the social media network-savvy younger generation in the country.
 
The 23 July accident killed 40 and injured 191.

Internet users have railed against what they see as attempts to rush through train services ahead of safety considerations. And that’s not the only thing are unhappy about: they are seething about attempts to censor the tragedy.

“These days, efforts to seal off the flow of opinion can’t work like it did before,” Lu said in a telephone interview with Reuters. “These crude censorship steps used to have some effect, but now the speed of the flow of information has surpassed them. On the contrary, the word about such restrictions simply deepens people’s distrust in government.”

See full Reuters report.

Some lessons for us here about how easily people’s trust can be broken by censors. And how futile it is to try and cover-up in this age of Twitter and Facebook.