A POSITIVE outcome from the terror killings in Paris by Islamic militants is the awakening of the Muslims in France and Europe that their religion has been hijacked by extremists and that they all need to urgently show solidarity with the majority population in defending the values of democracy and personal freedoms which are also dear to them.
Hence, the overwhelming participation by Muslims in the unprecedented huge unity march in Paris on Sunday, with their men and women proudly telling TV interviewers that they too are Charlie Hebdo, the satirical Paris newspaper which has been the favourite target of terrorist attacks for regularly publishing cartoons on Prophet Muhammad and making fun of him.
The newspaper also makes satirical cartoons about French leaders and the Christian and Jewish religions. Satire is an indispensable part of French humour which, unfortunately, fanatical Muslims cannot appreciate, as they are blinded by hate.
What the French Muslims are defending is not the cartoons, which are obviously offensive to Muslims, but the right of free speech, a value which is so deeply ingrained in western culture that it has become the defining part of their civilisation and way of life.
Muslims living in western countries are coming out to make a decision that they, too, subscribe to these modern values.
After all, these are the values which attracted their forefathers to uproot all their families and emigrate lock, stock and barrel from Africa, the Middle East and Asia to live in these western countries several generations ago.
Muslim thinkers and scholars have also come out to state bravely that it’s time to look at reform of Islam, particularly the power of the imams and the muftis and the religious schools.
The religious schools in certain countries teach young children how to hate other religions and that it is glorious to die as a jihadist.
One extremely articulate American Muslim woman said on TV, the worst enemy of the Muslim community is Islamism, which she described as a 20th century man-made ideology of rejecting and hating any beliefs and practices that are alien to the strict interpretation of the Quran and the Hadiths.
Thus democracy, the supremacy of the constitution, human rights, gender equality and girls’ education are considered haram as they are not found in old Islam.
In the extreme case statues, monuments, portraits and music are also forbidden as are Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Halloween.
Islamist ideologists justify their opposition to western culture and festivities as a war against the Jewish-Christian conspiracy to subvert the purity of Muslims and turn them against God.
Fareed Zakaria said in a recent article that when governments try to curry favour with the fanatics, eventually the fanatics will take the law into their own hands.
He was describing exactly of what happened in Pakistan, his original homeland, where politicians went head over heels to please the extremists and win their support by passing the most frightening laws, with barbaric sentences of death by stoning for adultery and apostasy and cutting off the limbs of thieves.
These laws have blatantly ignored the constitution, resulting in so much injustice to minority Islamic sects, Christians and women.
Brave politicians who spoke up for abolishing these religious laws and Malala, the heroic school girl in Peshawar who spoke up for girls’ education, became targets for assassination.
The extremists have indeed taken the law into their own hands in several Muslim countries and they are terrorising the whole country. As a result, the best of Muslims are leaving and emigrating in large numbers to start a new life in the West.
Many are brilliant people who could have done so much for their country of birth. Instead, they are now contributing to enrich the arts, science, technology and economy of America, Britain, Europe and Australia.
This is what moderate Muslims in Malaysia like the G25 group of senior Malays want to prevent happening to our beloved country.
We have to defend the Federal Constitution as the supreme law of the country and to limit the role of religion in our Government and society so that our future generations don’t have to live by the law of the extremists.
As my colleagues in G25 said, since the politicians are refusing to take the lead, we the citizens have to take the initiative in the defence of freedom and our liberties.