Peddling ignorance in halal trolleys

Malaysian Insider’s Abdar Rahman Koya writes: In 2015 Malaysia, we still practise segregation, whether enforced by law or by little napoleons in skull caps who collect their salaries every month after issuing sound bytes they say were from the prophet, all from the comfort of Putrajaya. Just go to our schools and see how children will suddenly find themselves being grouped, nay divided.

The first thing which shocked me when my daughter started school, an experience I frequently (and helplessly) rant about in this column, was a list on the classroom wall showing the names of the students in two columns, one for Muslims, the other for non-Muslims.

Outside the school, we see many other places where people are segregated or restricted because of what they are.

Mosques in Malaysia, for example, are no-go areas for non-Muslims when a mosque is supposed to be a house of God, not a house for Muslims.

There have also been plans to segregate the sexes at cinemas, classrooms, supermarket queues. Don’t be surprised, the salaried guardians of your faith even segregate you dead Muslims without getting a whimper of protest.

In one heavily populated Muslim cemetery in the Klang Valley, you find the ladies buried away from the men. Perhaps our guardians of faith are worried their ghosts will seduce us even while we are being flogged underground for our youthful follies.

But peddling ignorance about Islam has been taken to an all-new level, with the reported plan to have separate trolleys at supermarkets, effectively to differentiate those who buy halal from those who buy non-halal items.

Perhaps here’s a chance for bewildered Malaysians to do a Rosa Parks, by simply putting halal cheese, chicken and junk food into the non-halal trolley, or if you want to be closer to trouble, by pushing a halal trolley containing all the favourites of a pork-eating infidel.

This halal and non-halal trolley idea is as silly as the outcry by some chocolate-eating jihadists not long ago who vowed to launch a holy war against Cadbury after some Superman eyes spotted pork DNA in some Cadbury products.

It sounds as silly as some preachers telling us to wash seven times with soil and seven times with water and what have you, for touching a dog, or for coming into contact with some porky dish.

It’s also on the same silliness level of a minister declaring vaping as okay because the government understands the youths’ aspirations, when in fact we all know why an act which wastes probably twice as much money as smoking is tolerated, ie. to protect the so-called home grown vaping industry run and consumed by Umno’s vote bank.

But the truth is that the vape business has all the characteristics of lemang economics: people selling the same stuff at the same time in the same place, only to discover how they are stuck with business talents devoid of niche.

Why is it that something so doubtful and which has all the elements of haram, such as vape, is tolerated, indeed encouraged, yet some unseen teeny-weeny, itsy-bitsy, porky DNA, which probably had a one in a billion chance of making its way into your Islamic blood stream triggers alarm and a call for a holy war that would make even Isis members think twice about their profession?

Racism is not necessarily about race. It can also be based on one’s beliefs, preferences, gender.

Increasingly in Malaysia, racism is about whether you are a Muslim or a non-Muslim, and this halal/non-halal segregation is just one symptom of the false Islamism infecting our society.

A spokesman for consumer group Fomca reportedly welcomed the proposal to segregate halal and non-halal shopping carts, saying it was due to increasing awareness about halal among Muslims.

Really? Or is it reinforcing and exploiting confusion over halal? Or just plain ignorance about Islam and everything related to it, thanks to years of being under the tyranny of television and state-sponsored muftis and ulama and preachers, whose only job, besides the occasional live stand-up religious comedy, seems to be declaring what is lawful and what is not?

And consider the words of one “Muslim consumer activist”, who said the move was not to restrict but to foster understanding and sensitivity.

Ah, then again, coming from Datuk Nadzim Johan, the man who was among those riled up by some unseen teeny-weeny, porky DNA in some teeny-weeny piece of chocolate sample, and who called for a boycott of the chocolate maker, maybe it’s not worth rebutting him.

You see, there is a common trait among racists: they all deny they are racists. Racist policies and ideologies start with the proponents saying they have good intentions.

Such is the case with white supremacist ideologies and their variants, with Nazism and their offshoots, with apartheid, Hindutva and Zionism, and closer to home, the “ketuanan” masked as Islamisation.

All these ideologies claim to be movements to mobilise their people and to protect them from threats to their existence, and along the way, they come out with policies and laws to segregate societies, all in the name of maintaining harmony and, yes, fostering sensitivity.

But the worst part is when the name of God is invoked.

In many places where racism is institutionalised with fancy social engineering terms, it gets married to the dominant religion, giving birth to a fusion of religion and race.

Proponents of racist policies always tell us that theirs is a practical and realistic solution in managing multiracial societies and their relationship with others.

Such is the case with the halal trolley idea, even if it is remotely practical. It has all the flavour of racism but is more about ignorance. You know, the same kind which once upon a time lumped AIDS and Aedes into a single government campaign song!

And in the face of such ignorance, it is yet another ground to perpetuate Malaysia’s false Islamism, using what the masses in this country are most sensitive about.

Muslims must challenge these stupidities. Not only are they harmful to the nation, they send a signal to their children that Islam means living separately in your own Islamic fairyland.

I’m gonna push the non-halal red trolleys. I will also tell my halal kids to stick their bums in them. And you pig-loving infidels, feel free to use the other trolleys made for the chosen ones. – November 10, 2015.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.

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