Impelled as I am to join billions of my fellows around the world to identify with the victims of the massacre at the office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, I also feel that it is vital to put this atrocity in some kind of perspective.
Starting with the observation that, as tragic a toll as Islamic fundamentalism takes of its critics and innocent bystanders, as everywhere from New York’s World Trade Centre to Sydney’s Martin Place and now the heart of Paris, the overwhelming majority of its victims are Muslims themselves.
So my sympathy at times like this extends to the vast majority of virtuous, peace-loving Muslims whose lives are threatened or lost, and whose creed is brought under suspicion, scorn and opprobrium by lunatics and criminals allegedly acting in the name of Allah.
And not just individual lunatics and criminals, or even massive groups of such murderous scum as Boka Haram, al Qaeda and Islamic State (IS), but entire governments like those of countless Islamic or Muslim-majority nations.
The most pertinent current case in point being Syria, where Muslims are being killed, maimed and dispossessed on an industrial scale in a civil war caused by the obscene al Assad regime’s desperation to keep ruling the roost for the benefit of its members and cronies.
And of course Muslims are also dying like flies in the bloody internecine struggle for political clout and material loot between the Sunni and Shiite Islamic sects in Iraq, the Yemen and elsewhere.
In short, as tragic as the attacks in Paris and other parts of the world surely are, and as gruesomely as the crazed killers’ claims that they’re acting because “God is great” may grate on us infidels and outright atheists, they grate to an even greater extent on the majority of virtuous Muslims.
Nor is Islam exclusive in so grating on its adherents. In fact Christianity has been corruptly employed by power-mad, greed-crazed allegedly “divinely-appointed” potentates and their priesthoods for almost half a millennium longer and around much more of the globe.
So outraging the people of Europe in the process as to finally, several centuries ago, provoke the so-called “Protestant Reformation” and the French Revolution.
The latter starting in Paris, not far from the recent Charlie Hebdo atrocity and, appropriately enough, driven by such deep antagonism to the proposition that “God is great”, and such dire loathing for the nexus between regal power and religion as to move the great revolutionary writer Denis Diderot to the deathless declaration that “men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.”
Unfortunately for France, it never occurred to Diderot or any of his contemporaries to suggest strangling racists along with royalists and religionists.
Which was a great pity, as this extra consideration would have saved the Republic from both causing and suffering a great deal of grief as a result of its unwillingness to extend its avowed principles of liberty, equality and fraternity to foreign “colonials” like the Algerians and Vietnamese, or even to French-born Gypsies and Jews.
And the attack by Islamists on Charlie Hebdo, an emblem of the nation’s historically hard-won freedoms, may prove a setback to French enlightenment, as it could clearly be an inspiration to France’s reactionary, if not outright royalist, religious, racist and indeed virtually neo-Fascist far–right political party, the National Front (FN).
Mention of which inevitably transitions us to Malaysia, where the National Front or Barisan Nasional is not just some maliciously madcap minority group as in France, but a coalition that has been running – and steadily ruining and robbing – the country for almost 60 years.
And maintaining its grip on power by pretending to stand for the so-called “three pillars” that it purports to “defend” in its “struggle” for supremacy: royalty, race and religion.
Royalty as represented by nine Sultans who don’t seem to do much but sponge off the populace and take it in turns to spend four years as Agong or King in the splendid new palace paid for by the people.
Race being specifically Malay, which for some reason is officially deemed superior to not only later “immigrants” like the Chinese and Indians, but also to much earlier inhabitants of Malaysia like the Orang Asli and many other “native” peoples.
And religion, of course, being Islam, to which, quite contrary to Malaysia’s constitutional provision of freedom of worship, the regime requires Malays to belong and forbids them to leave.
Never mind that the regime itself is led by the main Malay-Muslim party, Umno, whose members, cronies and supporters run a system so riddled with secrecy, lies, greed, corruption, fraud, nepotism, embezzlement, theft and even homicide as to be, as I’ve said so many times before, a disgrace to Islam or any other known religion.
In other words, BN has much the same mindset at the rulers of doomed pre-revolutionary France. Complete with a prime minister who imagines he’s some kind of monarch, and whose dereliction of duty and devotion to golf clearly reveal that he is every whit as out of touch with the peasants as Louis XVI so fatally was.
And his self-deluded, shopaholic consort demonstrates much the same “let them eat cake” attitude as has been – perhaps unjustly – historically attributed to Marie-Antoinette.
But the most deadly connection with France that haunts Malaysia’s BN regime is not historical, but far more contemporary and criminal. The acquisition by now Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, back when he was defence minister, of French Scorpene Class Submarines.
A purchase whose price is persuasively alleged to have included hundreds of millions of Malaysian ringgit in “commissions” or in other words corrupt kickbacks, and subsequently also resulted in the “mysterious” murder of the Mongolian translator used in the deal, Altantuya Shaariibuu, allegedly by members of Najib’s special bodyguard.
So while we regret and memorialise the casualties of the latest international atrocity in the name of Islam with the declaration that “Je suis Charlie”, let’s each of us never forget to remind him or herself that in Malaysia it’s also and forever a case of “Saya Altantuya”, “Saya Teoh Beng Hock”, “Saya Ananthan Kugan” and “Saya every other victim of the criminally un-Islamic faux-Muslim ruling regime”.
Because the slain must be remembered, and, however long it takes, their killers brought to justice. Or as a present-day admirer might be forgiven for expressing this truth in paraphrase of the illustrious Denis Diderot, “Malaysia will never be free until the last Umnoputra is strangled with the entrails of the last religio-racist”.
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