Kuala Lumpur: Remarks by an actor and ex radio presenter in Malaysia has kicked off a new controversial debate as his post on a social networking website is widely deemed as disparaging to Islam. However, Founding President of Kita, Zaid Ibrahim, has defended the actor saying that his remarks were meant only against the government officials not Islam.
Ibrahim argued that the Malaysian actor and former radio DJ, Patrick Teoh, did not insult Islam in his post on Facebook but he showed anger only against the PAS-led Kedah government officials.
The state government made a dress code ruling against officials and singers who would be attending 1Malaysia Chinese New Year celebration on Feb 15 in Alor Setar.
As a result of that Teoh burst into anger and posted a Facebook status that was deemed as insensitive to Muslims. Teoh has since apologized over the offensive posting.
Ibrahim, who is a former minister in his blog, stated, “I had a quick look at his Facebook page to see what the fuss was about, and I have to say I did not see anything that warrants criminal prosecution.”
“He was ranting and using inappropriate language of course, which was rather thoughtless and insensitive of him, but his words were directed at some Muslims leaders in Kedah,” he added.
He said, “He was insulting these leaders in particular, which is not the same thing as insulting Islam. We must learn to distinguish between the religion and its administrators.”
The Malaysian Multimedia and Communications Commission (MCMC) questioned Teoh over the posting put and he was also similarly questioned by the police.
Ibrahim pointed out that while Teoh’s posting was insensitive, it was not insulting Islam.
Many people were also angry when Teoh had used vulgarity to label the leaders in question.
Again, his choice of language was not at all proper, but he was not referring to the Quran at all or describing the Holy Book in a disparaging manner, said Ibrahim.
He said, “He was referring to these state administrators. It’s common in western societies to refer to Christian evangelists as ‘Bible thumpers’, so I guess Patrick was in that mode of thinking when he wrote those words.”
“But clearly, the Holy Book was not his target at all: the Muslims ‘evangelists’ were,” he justified.
He also pointed out that attempts to prohibit views that are deemed as insensitive would eventually lead to the end of freedom of expression.
“Although we may find them distasteful, we must also protect views that are stupid, gross and insensitive. Only then we can say we live in a democracy and a free society,” Ibrahim concluded.