Archive for June, 2007

Much Ado About Rushdie

Thursday, June 28th, 2007

I was on a BBC radio programme recently, in conversation with a certain Minister of a certain Religious Affairs Department of a certain Muslim country. The topic of the debate was, of course, the recent furore over the award of a knighthood to the British author Salman Rushdie. In the course of the programme, a [...]

Stirring the “Militant Islam” Bugbear Again?

Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

We know that a government is in trouble when it starts running out of excuses to explain and justify its incompetence. And we know that a government is in trouble when it picks fights when it doesn’t need to, and ends up recycling old slogans and narratives that were stale and worn-out the first time [...]

A Vigil for Malaysia

Thursday, June 21st, 2007

After years of beating about the bush and trying to sweep the issue under the carpet, Malaysia’s government is now forced to address one vital and visible constituency that it can no longer avoid: The non-Muslim minorities of the country.
Observers of Malaysia’s convoluted racial and religious communitarian politics will know that things have not been [...]

Our Other Flag That Never Was

Monday, June 18th, 2007

(NOTE: This article first appeared in Off The Edge, Issue 30, June 2007)
Call it what you will: Jalur Gemilang or otherwise, but our national flag remains a flag – a piece of cloth fluttering in the wind, attached to a stick of some kind.
But then again there are flags and there are flags. In Jogjakarta [...]

All Quiet on the Jihadi Front

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007

Ustaz Ja’far Umar Thalib is a rather bored man these days. The former head of the now-disbanded Laskar Jihad was looking rather glum and down when I interviewed him recently, at his Pesantren al-Sunna in the outskirts of Jogjakarta, Central Java.
In the early 2000s Ja’far Umar Thalib was the man to watch, the flame-eater and [...]

We Are Not A Tribe Called ‘Muslims’

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

How long can a country be at the crossroads of its history? It seems that Malaysia in particular has been stuck at some empasse and has not been able to move on; a situation that has been aggravated by the culture of communitarian, sectarian politics that is rife in the nation, and which has been [...]