Tag Archives: Malaysia

A Wahhabi Coming of Age in Indonesia and Malaysia?……

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“FOR decades, South-East Asia has had two lucky bulwarks against militant Islam: the peaceful, tolerant form of their faith practised by most South-East Asian Muslims; and the relative incompetence of local jihadists. But South-East Asia’s tradition of syncretic Islam has been threatened by stricter forms imported from the Middle East, seen as more modern and correct. Violent jihadism seems to be following the same pattern, if the bloody violence in central Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, on January 14th, is anything to go by…………  In Malaysia, however, the government itself has thoroughly politicised Islam, leaving little room for dissent from its harshest rules. A study last year found more than 70% of Malaysia’s ethnic-Malay, Muslim, majority support hudud laws such as stoning for adultery…………….”

Southeast Asia has been largely under the radar as far as Wahhabism and Jihadi terrorism is concerned. Saudi madrassas (meaning schools but here ones that stress Wahhabi ideology, manned by Saudi clerics-teachers) have been around for a couple of decades, and a new crop of young terrorists are coming of age.

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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Allah is Coming, Allah is Coming: What is in a Word?………

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“Malaysia’s highest court on Monday dismissed an attempt by Christians for the right to use the word Allah, ending along legal battle that has escalated religious tensions in the country. The case, in which the Catholic church challenged a government ban on its use of the Arabic word to refer to God, came amid concern from minority religious groups who feel that their rights are under threat from rising Islamisation………..”

This is uncommon in Muslim countries, especially in Arab countries. Normally people of all faiths use the term ‘Allah’. In recent years Malaysia has been trying to out-Wahhabi the original Wahhabis, out-royal the king (no pun).

Allah is really a linguistic term. Just a term that denotes a deity or ‘the deity’. Arabs and other Muslims use Allah to denote God, Dieu, Yahweh, etc. Even Arab Christians use “Allah” for “God”: they would be surprised to know that they could get thrown out of a church in some God-fearing states here if they use the term.

It is just a language thing, not a specific first name. Arab Christians often yell “Ya Allah” just as Arab Muslims do when exasperated. Even Arab Jews used to do that, before the Jews in most Arab countries left or were pushed to leave. I suspect that maybe some Israelis might do that by now. Who knows, maybe some day they will adopt and claim it as their own term, just like falafel and hummus.
Politicians here who are ignorant and/or opportunistic (surprise!) use the term as a rallying cry to get votes.


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum                          Follow ArabiaDeserta on Twitter

Are All Airliner Shootings Deliberate Massacres? It Depends on Who Shoots and Who Gets Shot Down……

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Poor Malaysians, they seem so unlucky with their airline this year. Still, if it had not been for the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and the struggle for Eastern Europe, this disaster would not have been so important. Still, not all airline disasters are equal. Let us look at a few cases when commercial civilian airliners have been shot down by military forces of governments:

1973: A Libyan Airlines Boeing 727-200 plane was shot down by Israeli fighters in Egypt’s Sinai Desert on 21 February, 1973. It was believed that the pilots got lost due to bad weather and equipment failure over northern Egypt, resulting in the plane entering Israeli-controlled airspace over the Sinai desert. Israeli fighter jets shot down the plane. Out of 113 people on board, only five, including the co-pilot, survived.
So, an Arab airliner shot down by Israel over occupied Arab land.

1983: A Korean Air flight was brought down by the USSR on 1 September 1983. The Boeing 747 civilian airliner from New York to Seoul was shot down by a Soviet jet just west of the Russian island of Sakhalin killing all 269 passengers and crew, including US congressman Larry McDonald. The Russians believed it was a US military surveillance plane and fired tracer rockets as a warning but it did not respond, the Soviet fighter pilot later said. US president, Ronald Reagan called the shoot down “a massacre“.
So, shot down over Soviet/Russian territory.

1988: On 3 July 1988 the US warship USS Vincennes, in the Persian Gulf, fired a surface-to-air missile to shoot down Iran Air flight 655 travelling from Bandar Abbas in Iran to Dubai. All 290 passengers, mostly Iranians on a pilgrimage to Mecca, and all the crew were killed. US Navy officials later said the Vincennes’ crew believed they were firing at an Iranian F14 jet fighter, claiming the plane was off the ‘usual’ commercial route and did not respond to requests to change course. Iran, perhaps echoing Ronald Reagan, called it “a barbaric massacre“.
So, an Iranian airliner shot down by a U.S. navy ship. Not over the Gulf of Mexico, nor within sight of Manhattan. In the ‘Persian’ Gulf, right in Iran’s own backyard. 

2001: Ukrainian military shot down a Russian passenger jet containing 78 people on 4 October 2001 as it flew over the Black Sea travelling from Tel Aviv in Israel to Novosibirsk in Russia. Russian crash investigators concluded the Tu-154 was hit by a Ukrainian ground-to-air missile despite the fact it was on its flight plan on an international airway which did not fall under any restrictions imposed by Ukraine. It exploded in mid-air, sparking speculation it was downed accidentally by Ukranian military on exercises in Crimea.

So is it a crime to shoot down a civilian airliner? You may be shocked to find out that it depends, but you shouldn’t. Apparently it mainly all depends on two factors: (1) Who does the shooting; (2) Who is shot down.

Generally third world airliners, when shot down by anyone but especially by Western missiles, are not much lamented or compensated. The Iran Air 655 victims were ignored in the West. If it had been an Iranian missile shooting down a Western airliners, Tehran would have been invaded, with full UN approval. Iran would have been blackmailed and forced to pay extortion in billions of dollars in compensation for the Western victims, who tend to be much more valuable as victims than others are. No such compensation was offered or paid, as far as I know, for Iran Air 655 victims or the Libyan victims.

Third world victims are always deemed to be worth less than Western victims. That is a fact; too bad you can’t take it to the bank, though. But I admit it is sometimes a self-made valuation suggested by unrepresentative and repressive governments.


Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

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