Monday, November 24, 2008

A tale of two protests in Kuala Lumpur

KL has seen a fair number of protests lately. This was one of them:

Representatives from an umbrella body of Malay and Muslim non-governmental organisations lodged five police reports Sunday over several issues which they claimed endangered Muslim and Malay unity.

The Heritage Associations, Malay Cultural Organisations and Related Bodies Cooperation Network (Pewaris) urged the Government to act against groups which are asking for the abolition of the Internal Security Act (ISA).

...Later, about 500 of the coalition’s members held a peaceful gathering outside their meeting place at Wisma Sejarah before going to the Jalan Tun Razak police station to lodge their reports.

So, let me get this straight. Five hundred Muslims gather in the heart of KL, supporting the government and in turn the ISA. Even though the Malaysian police have said before that public gatherings of four or more are illegal, the police arrested no one. Perhaps like the UMNO protests in support of the Tamil Tigers earlier this month, these folks didn't really need a police permit.

Now compare that police response--or lack thereof--to the way the cops responded to another protest (see photo above) on the same day in the same city:

KUALA LUMPUR: Nine people, including PAS vice-president Mohamad Sabu and its Youth chief Salahudin Ayub, were arrested when they took part in an illegal anti-ISA gathering in Pandan Indah.

They were among 200 people who had gathered at Dataran MPAJ last night to listen to a ceramah by PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.

At 9pm, the police surrounded them and they were asked to leave. Mohamad was heard telling the crowd that the ceramah had to be cancelled but another one would be held in the Selayang stadium on another day.

“We can’t even hold a gathering in a Pakatan Rakyat state,” Mohamad told the crowd.

A scuffle then ensued when Federal Reserve Unit personnel shouted at the group to disperse before the nine, aged between 30 and 50, were arrested.

PKR information chief Tian Chua said those arrested were taken to the Pandan Indah police station.

“It is double standards practised by the authorities,” he said, noting that no action was taken on the demonstration by Pewaris earlier in the day.

Double standards? In Malaysia? You mean, like yoga is ok for the kufr and not for the Slaves of Allah? Or that you're free to demonstate, as long as it's sanctioned by or in support of the ruling party UMNO?

Islam is a system of duality--one standard for Muslims and another for everyone else--an ideological system with no Golden Rule. This blatant and repeated hypocrisy at the heart of Malaysia's national life is the inevitable result.

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