Saturday, June 23, 2007

Religious Tolerance

This morning I watched Al-Jazeera. Something I don't normally do. I was bored but too lazy to get out of bed on my day off. The nearest electronic device beyone my reach was my handphone (or whan Americans call 'cellphone'). Al-Jazeera was the only free live streaming I could get on the 3G enabled handphone.

There was a program called "Crossroad Europe". It was pretty much about how citizen of Spain react to the growing Islamic community (or rather Morroccan immigrants) there. I didn't watched it till its end. But what I saw was the locals were mostly sceptical. The Spanish in general oppose the idea of Mosque in their neighbourhood. Quoting interviews on the program:

Young morrocan man: [bla... bla... bla....] We've tried intergration, it didn't work. [bla... bla... bla..] We want the real deal (referring to the fact that he want to opt for 'radical' Islamic)

Slightly older local Spanish woman: [bla.. bla.. bla...] They come to our country. We shouldn't be adapting to their culture (referring to the influx of Morrocan immigrant)

I didn't see any interview on local Islamic Spanish. Anyway it reminds me of how things are in Malaysia. Malaysians in general don't think twice about other religion's place of worship. There are churches, temples and mosques in every corner of the country. I know in some towns those places of worship are within walking distance from each other. It has become a part of Malaysian culture. Malaysians are generally tolerance of each other religious belief.

That brings me to a recent headlines I saw in local newspaper (by local I meant Malaysian). It read along the line "Muslim not ready for (religious) dialog". I think I know why. Muslims are mostly believers and followers. At least that are the muslims you'll likely meet on the street of Malaysia. As a believer and a follower, you believe and follow what your 'teacher' tells you. Hence, if you get the wrong teacher, you'll fall into the 'deviant' teaching group or worse, the i'm-right-you're-wrong-so-you-must-die camp!

But then again, I believe it happened in other religion too. Otherwise history wouldn't see the likes of 'Hitler'.

(Disclaimer: I'm not statistician not historian. Check the facts yourself)

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