Aiseyman! Did 2 Muslim MPs just try to play up religious politics in parliament?

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In a sneaky move by MPs Zainal Sapari and Faisal Manap, the issue of whether religious bodies should be given more authority to pass judgement over penal trangressions was suddenly thrown out to Parliament yesterday.

Speaking up on the controversial issue of the imam at Masjid Jamae who had allegedly spoken ill of believers of the Jewish and Christian faiths, the 2 MPs had asked whether MUIS and PERGAS will be consulted, to establish if the imam’s comments were inflammatory.

To quote Faisal Manap: “MUIS and PERGAS will be able to provide a more accurate interpretation of the imam’s text, since he’s said to be quoting from a verse from the Koran.”

On the surface, it sounds reasonable enough right? But on a deeper level, it is a dangerous argument which subverts our secular justice system and a slippery slope towards mixing religion with politics a la our closest neighbour up north.

Consider the case of the infamous Christian pastor and accomplices who cheated many of their congregants of their hard earned money in a elaborate scam to further the non-existent singing career of his china-wine singing wife. Obviously, and as backed up by investigations by the commercial affairs department, it is a straight forward case of criminal breach of trust. But imagine if we had allowed a hypothetical Christian authority (the equivalent of MUIS), they might see no wrong in that because they may claim that it is part of a Christian’s duty to tithe (so the congregants are not scammed) and evangelise (further the singing career of a pastor spreading the word of God).

Or imagine if what had happened at Masjid Jamae took place in Malaysia and JAKIM was called in to arbitrate the conflict. Would they see anything wrong in an imam using the Quran to cause rifts in the various religious communities? Probably not, because they would claim that the Quran is the word of God and no one has the right to question it.

As a secular society where people belonging to different religions live together, we have to protect the secular public institutions and let them deal with the case against the imam, not relegate that responsibility to MUIS or PERGAS.