All you need to do is to monitor the news from around the world to see how potent the mixture of politics and religion can be. The 30 Years War of 1618-1648 was one of the most destructive conflicts in European history. Then there were the 300-year Crusades of 1,000 years ago.
Many tragedies have been perpetuated in the name of religion and it is still going on in many parts of the world even as you read this. I can only describe the situation as a world under siege from religious extremism.
Most Malaysians are not too concerned with all these goings-on mainly because they are happening so far from home. Only when it explodes in our own backyard will it be of concern. And most feel it can never happen in Malaysia.
But that is what everyone initially felt in the many countries that these tragedies are occurring. By the time reality sets in that religious extremism and terrorism have arrived on our doorstep, it is usually too late to do anything about it.
The matter of Hudud, the Allah word issue, and the confiscation of Bibles, hymns, and other Christian literature published in Bahasa Malaysia, appear to be a never-ending problem. Just as one incident is solved another one crops up. It is beginning to look like this is going to be part of the Malaysian ‘culture’ for a long time to come.
Sarawak recently issued a statement saying that it will not allow this conflict to spread to Sarawak, as has Sabah. And this is good because Sarawak and Sabah have always been moderate in matters of religion. Sarawak and Sabah should not be dragged into the conflict facing Peninsula Malaysia.
Sarawak and Sabah have to maintain their stand regarding the issue of Hudud, the Allah word, and Christian publications in the National Language. These two states have always been the model for religious tolerance and this must not be allowed to change.
Let us keep religion out of politics to ensure that we do not slide down the slippery slope that some states in West Malaysia appear to be heading for. Sarawak and Sabah have taken the lead and we should follow their example in maintaining the solidarity between those of different religious faiths.