A “Muslims only” self-service launderette in Muar has sparked tremendous controversies in the country, forcing the Johor Sultan to instruct the business owner to stop the discriminatory act or face closure.
The business owner subsequently removed the “Mesra Muslim” notice and promised to apologize to the Sultan.
He earlier claimed that he was running his business in accordance with Islamic teachings, but such argument could hardly earn the acceptance of our civilized society, and will instead hurt the merit of tolerance our culturally diverse society is known for.
Weirdly, menteri besar Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the state government would not interfere nor support or oppose to this type of operational mode, adding that it was the business owner’s discretion to do so.
The state government’s ambiguous stand could be dangerously interpreted as an endorsement of the aberrant behavior.
Eventually the Sultan voiced up, saying such Taliban-style extremist behavior must not be tolerated in his state.
His Majesty said Johor had always been a progressive and modern state where people from different ethnic and religious backgrounds live together peacefully and harmoniously, and that extremism would have no place in the state.
His Majesty also highlighted the fact that Islam teaches the faithfuls to be tolerant and respectful towards other religions and races.
If the Muslims-only launderette is allowed to continue operating this way, it will set a very bad precedent.
We now have a “Muslims only” launderette, but no one can assure us that we won’t see halal taxis or other forms of “Muslims only” services in this country in near future.
We cannot deny that our society is getting increasingly Islamized and polarized. The conservatizing trend, unfortunately, has direct links to politics.
Politicians have subscribed to radicalized and segregational policy in the name of defending their religion for the sake of votes and power, while government officials are happy to dance to their tune in a bid to please these politicians. By doing so, they are dismantling the spirit of tolerance, mutual understanding and acceptance of our differences in a multicultural society.
This anomaly has been extended from politics to the citizens’ level with the halal concept now infinitely expanded to include not only food but day-to-day equipment and business models too, deepening the existing rift and sabotaging the much prided national unity.
The Sultan, in his capacity as the head of state and the supreme leader of the Islamic faith in Johor, has done and said things our politicians have failed so badly.
To a very large extent, this will help tone down the aggravating conflicts, and His Majesty’s instruction should serve as a wake-up call to our politicians that they can no longer connive at such aberrant behaviors for their own political gains, generating more discrimination, segregation, exclusion and division while smothering our continued progress and national transformation aspirations.