Innocent casualties in this political war

So, another desperate act to get the conservative vote. Two top Star editors get suspended. What was their crime? They were held responsible for last Saturday’s Star front page which carried a story to announce the start of the Muslim fasting month with a picture of Muslims bowed in prayer. Above it was another story of a Malaysian terrorist fighting in Marawi, Philippines.

That was deemed offensive to some Muslims, who accused The Star of being insensitive to Muslims especially in this Ramadan month as some people may interpret the juxtaposition of the stories as suggesting that Muslims are also terrorists!

Seriously?! Is this rational thought or irrational fear? Or, plain political chicanery? Aimed at showing — particularly to their currently targeted conservative constituents — how they are quick to defend their religion?

Whatever the political game, it reveals two extremely disturbing trends.

Firstly, a few people, who, apparently, can only see as far as their noses, are holding an entire nation to ransom. They are raising heckles over the slightest — sometimes even non-existent — infraction, and demanding policing in the name of religion.

I wonder if the majority approves? I think any decent, rational person, whatever your beliefs, can see that such political machinations are totally unacceptable in a modern, progressive society.

Maybe, I’m being idealistic, but I like to think that the majority of Malaysians are good, decent, law-abiding people who respect each other’s ways and accommodate legitimate differences.

They may not express their concerns publicly, but, I hope they will — very loudly — at the ballot box.

Secondly, I find it reprehensible — yes, I am choosing a strong word here — that politicians are willing to cross the line for the sake of political survival and don’t bat an eyelid when innocent people are sacrificed. In the Altantuyaa case, the prosecutor-in-cement-drum case, 1MDB, religious vigilantism in the form of kidnappings and all the scandals that have dogged the Najib government, innocent people have been sacrificed to protect the interests of the powerful, in the name of religion and political survival.

The latest casualties are The Star editors. A society that tolerates such blatant disregard of innocent lives is an oppressed society. If the religion we believe in can not enable us to see the oppression in our midst, and act to remove it, we, indeed, are a hopeless people!

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