The Cow-Head Lesson for Merdeka: Delegitimize Violence and Hatred

August 30, 2009

We, the undersigned civil society organizations are shocked, angered and saddened by the “Cow-Head protest” in Shah Alam last Friday, 28 August 09, against a proposed Hindu temple in Section 23 of the city. The carrying of the head of a freshly slaughtered cow, a sacred animal to the Hindus, and the unveiled threat of bloodshed on the eve of Merdeka celebration suggests that all Malaysians need to reflect deeply about our 52 years of nationhood, and the clarion call of 1Malaysia.

From the outset, these heinous acts of crime perpetrated by the irresponsible few must NEVER be seen as a conflict between the two faiths or the two faith communities. All major spiritual traditions, Islam and Hinduism included, uphold peace and human dignity as their common and core values. Our spirituality and love for humanity mandates us for the perpetual quest for peace and abhorrence of all forms of hatred and civil disorder.

The Shah Alam incident sadly reveals that violence and hatred are still inadequately delegitimized in our society. We exhort all Malaysians to unite in our joint efforts to decry and delegitimize violence and hatred to prevent any individual or grouping from resorting to intimidation and provocation when faced with any town-planning disputes or rows of similar nature.

We the undersigned, taking cognizance of the above, do hereby:

1.    URGE that all disputes in civil society must be resolved through peaceful means such as peaceful demonstrations, rational dialogues, extensive consultations and legal suits. The Selangor State Government’s plan to hold a town hall meeting to facilitate communication and engagement with all stakeholders is highly commendable.

2.    CONDEMN in the strongest possible language any act to humiliate and intimidate any ethno-religious community, in this case the irreligious and irresponsible display of a cow head. In Shah Alam incident, not only the Hindus are humiliated and hurt but also all thinking Malaysians – Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Sikh, those of other spiritual traditions and atheist. We particularly share the pain and anguish of the Shah Alam Hindu community.

3.    URGE all religious authorities, community leaders and political parties to unreservedly condemn the perpetrators of the reprehensible “Cow-Head” act. Every racial and religious bigot should be shamed and distanced by the general public especially by their ethno-religious community, which they seek to represent. Political parties must also take disciplinary action against members involved in inciting hatred. This would deprive them the pleasure and gratification of self-righteousness and heroism. Legal punishment alone may prove inadequate because it may instead grant the offenders the self-perceived honour of martyrdom.

4.    SUPPORT a thorough investigation of those responsible for the “Cow-Head” protest for threatening violence (not sedition) on both the local Hindu community and the elected State Government of Selangor. Threats of violence, for whatever reason; has no place in civilized society. Violence must be condemned and can only be completely delegitimized when society has zero tolerance for it and every offender is appropriately punished.




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