(Melbourne, July 13, 2018) – Aizat Shamsuddin, Country Director of KMU Malaysia presented on “Pursuing Qu’ranic Values of Social Justice and Equality as Counter Narratives to Religious Extremism” at the Practitioner’s Hub, 2018 Strong Cities Network Global Summit in Melbourne.
The summit convened from 10-12 July, 2018, hosted by the State Government of Victoria and organized by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD). 250 delegates including locally elected leaders, policy makers and practitioners from around the world attended this year Summit.
The Strong Cities Network is the first ever global network of mayors, municipal-level policy makers and practitioners united in building social cohesion and community resilience to counter violent extremism in all its forms.
At the conference, Aizat added that KMU Malaysia believes that human rights work as counter narratives to prevent and counter extremist and anti-Muslim narratives. It is required to change mindset and attitudes especially among young people to treat out-groups in the society – including women, children, religious and sexual minorities – with respect and dignity. There are three salient features in KMU’s preventive programming with youth and other stakeholders:
- To revisit the contentious concepts such as ‘Islamic state’, ‘jihad’ and ‘takfir’ in Islam based on contextual and reality understandings. Developing its scholarship in Fiqh Ad Daulah (jurisprudence on statehood) is important to reconcile Islamic values with democracy, rule of law and human rights. For example, one of the pillars in ‘Islamic state’ is Sharia criminal law or hudud It has been discussed by the contemporary Islamic and political science scholars to exercise a moratorium or total embargo on it. What the state must achieve is the justice and proportionality of punishment towards the victims and offenders. If Denmark or Norway has the best criminal justice system with proven lower crime rate, then that shall be adopted and consistent with the Qu’ran.
- To inculcate the skill of critical thinking. On the other hand, to view an issue not just based on the perspective of religion but also its political, economic, gender and global historical perspectives. For example in Sunni-Shia or Israel-Palestine, the sectarianism is seen as a sole factor of such conflict especially among the average people. There are more to that such as economic interest, dominance of more powerful or richer countries over less powerful or poorer countries, proxy war, Christian minority is also persecuted in Palestine, there are human rights defenders who fight for the liberation of Palestinians and two-state solution. Full and honest narratives must be informed to debunk the blatant hate based on belief or race.With that as a bigger picture, peaceful conflict resolution is a way to move forward, not violence. Another example is on Charlie Hebdo’s case, while hate speech is problematic, widespread reactionary Muslims should have countered the hate speech with better ideas, dialogue or awareness campaign hand in hand with the local authorities.
- To localize, strengthen and echo international instruments and international best practices according to faith-based approach. Often the discussion about international convention or treaty is state-owned or in the context of Muslim majority countries, it is seen as another form of western imposition. This needs to be debunked with local collaboration with policy makers, religious and community leaders. Local programming such as workshop, forum, dialogue, etc. are useful to educate the society about their rights and role to maintain peace and tolerance. It also somehow breaks the ownership of the west over human rights discourse. For example, KMU Malaysia has localized the Marrakesh Declaration inspired by the Medina Charter and concluded by diverse religious leaders and policy makers across the world in its Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue for Youth (IIDY) with the aim to combat negative attitude and discrimination on religious minorities. Program called “#UlamaBersamaWanita” on affirming the women’s rights under the counter extremism framework was also organized to challenge the extreme interpretation of religion that justifies the subjugation of women.This can prevent and counter extreme narratives before it is translated into actions such as Boko Haram, a terrorist group who kidnapped girls and restricted them from getting education. Similarly, against the brutality of Daesh on the ethnic minority, Yazidis.
The importance of faith-based approach was also emphasized in depth to be one of the means to affect change from within among the Muslim societies because faith is so integral in our daily lives.