Wednesday January 30, 2013
A fire not worth lighting
The Star Says
THERE was, without doubt, some anxiety over whether the threat to burn copies of the Bahasa Malaysia translation of the Bible with the word “Allah” in it would actually be carried out in Butterworth on Sunday.
And it was an anxiety felt not only by Christians, but by all right-thinking Malaysians who value peace and harmony in this country. We are mindful of the ties that bind us together to be a good example of a truly multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation.
Some dismissed the threat as a hoax calculated to feed the palpable tension and politicking leading up to the general election. But the police did not take the threat lightly and it is to their credit that they never let their guard down. They made their presence felt at the proposed venue, and even had their helicopter hovering above.
The reality of life is that the actions of a few, even if they are misguided, can and do make a bigger impact than they should.
Let us not forget how one maverick pastor in the United States commanded the world stage, and got everyone's attention not too long ago, when he threatened to burn the Quran.
Since ancient times, those who fear the written word or want to keep the masses in ignorance have called for books to be burned. History is littered with such examples and every time, it's proven to be a futile exercise.
Our very own maverick politician, Datuk Ibrahim Ali, certainly got everyone to pay attention, which may well have been his intent in the first place. The group that threatened to translate his words into action, fortunately, was not able to get anyone to turn up to light the fire.
We must be thankful that Malaysians across all divides know how to distinguish between what is right, and what is wrong. We have seen, from many recent episodes, that not everyone is prepared to play the game of who can shout the loudest, and who can issue a bigger threat.
This is part of the maturing process of our country and one clear step forward was how a group of people responded to the situation on the same day by coming together at the KLCC park to read books on religion and philosophy.
The public reading, described as “a peaceful way to respond to a violent call”, shows that there are positive ways to make our voices heard.
Granted that temperatures will go up a notch or two in this season, but let us not let the actions of a few individuals be deemed to be the real barometer of what this nation is all about.
And for that, we must all do our part not to tar everyone with the same brush just because they are of the same faith or ethnicity.
Stereotyping a group of people on the account of a few individuals is playing into the hands of those who seek to burn bridges and des-troy the fabric of our beloved nation. We must never allow that to happen.