Saturday, 23 July 2011 Combat
By Ronald Benjamin
The statement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that Christians have to respect Islam before they are respected is disappointing because one would have expected the prime minister to speak in an inclusive tone since he articulated the importance of a global coalition of moderates in his overseas trip.
A leader who sincerely believes in moderation would have said that it is time for Muslims and Christians to work together to promote peace, justice and prosperity in the country.
It is this type of statement that would have been most welcome instead of demanding respect on an imaginary assumption that Christians have no respect for Islam.
How does he come to this type of conclusion? What is the evidence to show that Christians have no respect for Islam?
The prime minister, from time to time, has shown that he is incapable of courage and honesty in dealing with religious matters as that would make him look weak among extremist elements in his party.
This has made him a weak leader who is not capable of confronting extremism in his own party besides having a poor understanding of human rights. It reveals elements of poor governance.
The question is why he has chosen a right-wing tone in conceptualising the relationship between Muslims and Christians, after establishing diplomatic relations with Vatican?
Is it to show to right-wing groups that he is a firm Muslim leader in dealing with Christians, and diplomatic relations with Vatican have no bearing on current issues such as the usage of the word Allah in the Bible? Would this type of tone start the ball rolling for upcoming propaganda for the general election in ensuring the Muslim-majority vote?
The characteristics of credible leadership are its ability to dialogue and proactively solve problems and take a principled and inclusive position on issues of great importance that has major implications on the future of the country in terms of the common good, and not take the country towards destruction by playing to the tune of influential extremist voices.
A resolution on the usage of the word Allah in the Bible is a test of Najib’s governance on whether common good would triumph over exclusivity.
The so-called slogan of a coalition of moderates should start in one’s own backyard.