A GROUP of Malaysian atheists said they will not be fazed by authorities’ “aggression and baseless threats” against them, insisting they have a constitutional right to coexist in peace with other Malaysians.
The Malaysian Atheists and Secular Humanists (MASH) group said the latest trend of denouncing people who did not subscribe to any religion as “disruptions” to society was worrying, but would not lead to atheists backing down on their stance.
“Unwarranted aggression and baseless threats will neither faze nor force us out of existence,” the group said in a statement to The Malaysian Insight.
“The discomfort of disagreement should be met with discourse, not repression.
“As law-abiding and tax-paying members of society, atheists have the right to coexist and be guaranteed a peaceful existence alongside other citizens and residents in Malaysia.
“These inalienable rights cannot be negotiated based on the whims and fancies of individuals in government service.”
Atheism is the rejection of belief in the existence of a God, gods or deities.
In Parliament last week, Deputy Minister Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said atheism should not be allowed to exist in Malaysia as it contradicted the first principle of belief in God as listed in the Rukunegara, the five-point declaration of national philosophy.
In August, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Shahidan Kassim had said atheists should be “hunted down” as they did not fit in with Malaysian society.
MASH said those who questioned and challenged religious beliefs had existed since the dawn of civilisation, despite their lack of recognition or acknowledgment, and would continue to exist.
“People reject faith for varying reasons, and not for the lack of enforcement of faith. It must be noted that atheism is not a belief system per se.
“Many atheists do, however, subscribe to philosophical ideas, such as humanism, science and reason, none of which is antagonistic or harmful to society. ”
Asyraf, who was responding to a question by Kota Raja MP Siti Mariah Mahmud, said it was unconstitutional to spread ideologies that “incite people to leave a religion or profess no religion at all”.
Siti Mariah, whose question was regarding developments on the Atheist Republic Consulate Kuala Lumpur, said she acknowledged that belief was a personal matter, but the issue was raised out of concern for the Muslim community.
“It’s a personal choice, nobody can say anything. But the moment you start propagating, it’s going to wake up the silent majority and it will cause a lot of objections, especially among Malay-Muslim people, who are not really open about this.
“But, I don’t believe in forcing people. I believe in educating and engaging people. We have to study, we cannot just take action. We need to know why it is happening.”