Extremist ideologies in schools must be nulled

The deafening silence of our authorities on a TikTok video clip of controversial Islamic preacher Firdaus Wong Wai Hung advising a teacher to secretly convert minors in school is shocking and disturbing.

It has been ten days since the content surfaced and gained traction from various NGOs and netizens as a concerned society and parents’ voicing up against the attempt for illegal and unethical conversions of minors in schools.

In the video, Wong claimed that it is acceptable to convert non-Muslim children to Islam without their parents’ knowledge, provided the conversion is not officially registered until the children attains the age of 18.

He also suggested converting children first and then teaching them about Islam, including performing prayers in secrecy.

Police will take action regarding a viral video of Wong giving advice on converting children to Islam, according to activist Arun Dorasamy.

In a press conference held recently, Arun together with several NGOS revealed that an investigating officer informed him that an arrest would be made. In the same press conference, Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF) president S Shashi Kumar criticised Putrajaya’s silence on the matter, suggesting that their inaction implies approval.

Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Children categorically under 18 years of old are fragile in their thinking capacity and are still being moulded in terms of values, education and perspective.

Parents send their children to school for education that enables them to be educated to serve the country later on in various field or expertise. If one wants to send their children to a religious schools there are options to do so.

The trend of implementing extremist ideas in the minds of innocent children is worrying.

Wong’s actions are against the CRC.

Article 16.5.1. states that no child shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his or her honour and reputation.

Article 16.5.2. states that the child has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Wong also clearly going against our laws in Malaysia.

Article 12(4) of the constitution, the religion of a person aged under 18 is to be decided by his “parent or guardian”.

In reference to the Indira Gandhi’s case on January 29, 2018, the Federal Court in Malaysia decided that the word “parent” in Article 12(4) is to be interpreted as “parents” if both are still alive.

Indira had challenged the unilateral conversion of her three children to Islam by her Muslim convert ex-husband without her consent.

The Federal Court in 2018 ruled that, for children born to a couple who were both non-Muslims, consent of both the mother and the father (if both are alive) is required before a certificate of conversion to Islam can be issued.

Abusing the right to preach

Are we unaware of some immunity licenses given out for extremist behaviour in these converted preachers? In the past, so many reports were lodged against Syakir Nasoha, Idris Sulaiman, Wadi Annuar Ayub and Muhammad Zamri Vinoth Kalimuthu, no preacher has ever faced charges for making disparaging comments about non-Muslim faiths.

The cases were classified as “no further action” and some of them continue to hurt the sentiments of non-Muslims using social media platforms.

Perhaps it is time to form the third force for a government that truly will look into the affairs of all people regardless of their race, religion or community. Any government that fail to address issues pertaining to education should be questioned. People are helpless when the enforcement bodies are mum on pressing issues.

The right to speech in our country is converted as a freedom to abuse any other religion of the minority by the preachers. Right to profess a religion is converted to freedom of illegal conversions. The right to equality is converted to oppression of the non-Muslim faiths. Right to equality before law became the means to escape for extremist preachers.

How long more do we need to patiently wait for some golden words to pour out from the relevant authorities or a solution for all the anxiety-stricken parents of different faiths in Malaysia?

On thin ice

In the midst of all these, normal relationship among Malaysian are affected.

Growing insecurity over these remarks can be seen in some of the social media platforms where exchanges can be seen as Type M (Malays), Type C (Chinese), Type I and K referring to the Indians and also denigrating word ‘Keling’ used loosely by many on daily basis.

These trend of suspecting each other will not cultivate any harmony among people of different races and faiths living together.

This sort of extremism such as minor illegal conversion attempts must be stopped permanently to cultivate trust among cross – cultural society.

At end of the day, the only solution that one can hope for is the Agong and the Conference of Malay Rulers to take action.

The royalties are the ones most qualified to issue a stand and warning to end any kind of propaganda that affects the harmony of Malaysians.

HEMA SUBRAMANIAM is a columnist.

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