Moderate Muslim Malaysia: What I Saw

People often point to Malaysia as a good example of a “moderate Muslim nation.” So when I took a side trip to Kuala Lumpur and Malacca, I was curious to see moderate Islam with my own eyes. What’s it like to be a believer – or a non-believer – in a country that’s 60% Muslim?

writes Bryan Caplan, author of The Myth of the Rational Voter.

1 thought on “Moderate Muslim Malaysia: What I Saw

  1. TO

    ALL THE MOSLEM SIMPATISION PALESTINE GOVERMENT
    OUR MAY CAOUTRY AT WHERE EVERY ALL
    IN THE NAME ALL MAY GOD MOST GRACIOUS MOST MERCYFULL The conflict in Gaza should not be seen or judged in isolation. Its purpose is to stop Hamas attacks but its timing is linked to three elections. Israel faces a general election in February; Iran will choose its next president in June; and Barack Obama, the victor of the US elections, becomes president in 16 days.As well as an attempt to stop missiles being launched against its own citizens, the Israelis have a wider, strategic objective. They are seeking to create conditions on the ground that will enable a negotiated peace between Israel and the Palestinians and the creation of a Palestinian state.No Israeli government can negotiate withdrawal from the West Bank without the consent of its citizens. Tzipi Livni and her moderate coalition must, therefore, win the election. But the politician who leads the opinion polls in Israel is Benyamin Netanyahu, the hardline leader of the opposition, who is strongly opposed to the creation of a Palestine state.The Israeli attacks on Hamas are not unreasonable, regardless of electoral considerations. Imagine missiles being fired, most days, across the 21 miles of the English Channel and landing in the towns and villages of Kent. Imagine if, for several years, the IRA had been allowed to fire missiles into the villages of Northern Ireland from the Irish Republic with the consent and approval of the Irish government.Of course, it is controversial to make such comparisons, as Israel’s conflict in Gaza has a very different historic background. But every government has a first duty to protect its citizens.Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005, removing not only its soldiers but all Israeli settlements, despite bitter resistance from the settlers and their political allies. If Hamas, with total power in Gaza, had been willing to concentrate its energies on the economic development of the region and cease cross-border attacks, the Israeli government and public would have been much more willing to make a similar withdrawal from the West Bank where the majority of Palestinians live. We could have been seeing, by now, the birth of a new Palestinian state.Instead, about 5,000 missiles and mortars have been launched from within Gaza against Israeli civilian targets over the past three years. The latest missiles have a range of around 25 miles and have been used to attack Beersheba. Over half a million Israelis live within range of these new, more powerful BM-21 Grad missiles.Against that background the Israeli onslaught against Hamas targets in Gaza is entirely understandable. But is it wise? That, in part, depends on the Israelis’ objectives.The Israeli air attacks cannot, by themselves, eliminate the missile and mortar attacks launched from within Gaza. Hamas is constantly moving its missile launchers and cannot be prevented from doing so.The Israelis know this, but by pounding a range of Hamas political and government targets, are demonstrating that Hamas will pay an increasingly heavy price for its attacks. The Israelis also know that the Arab governments, despite their protests, are indifferent to Hamas’s plight. Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia loathe Hamas, as do those Palestinians who give their loyalty to Fatah.The secular Arab states are hostile because Hamas is an Islamist movement; the Saudis because they see Iranian meddling and interference not just with Hizbollah in Lebanon but, increasingly, with Hamas as well.But the Israeli government’s objectives are not just to influence Hamas. They are equally anxious to influence Israeli public opinion. Israel is a genuine democracy. It is due to have a general election on February 10. If that election results in Tzipi Livni as prime minister with Ehud Barak, the Labour leader and former prime minister, as her deputy, the peace process has a serious prospect of getting somewhere. The attacks on Hamas are already helping Livni and Barak in the opinion polls. The international community might not approve, but if we wish to see a Palestinian state in the foreseeable future this is likely to be the best route.An Israeli government re-elected just 21 days after President Obama takes office would create an unprecedented opportunity to relaunch the peace process. George W. Bush only seriously engaged in the issue in his last year in the presidency, when his authority was disintegrating. Obama is likely to have eight years of power ahead of him and will carry more weight with both Israelis and Arabs than any previous president for many years.Having Hilary Clinton as his Secretary of State is an additional asset. She is a powerful figure in her own right, well thought of in Jerusalem, and respected by the Palestinians. If the new US administration is willing to engage and help guarantee any successful negotiations, the Middle East could at last turn a vital corner.Finally, there is the Iranian dimension. Iran may not be a proper democracy but no one can predict whether Ahmadinejad will get a second term in June or be ousted by a moderate opponent. If he goes, much of his rhetoric on liquidating Israel will go with him. A peaceful resolution of Iran’s nuclear aspirations would also be more likely, especially as Obama has promised a serious dialogue with Iran to try to meet its security concerns. If the United States, under Bush, has been able to do a deal with Gadaffi’s Libya then a new relationship with Iran, brokered by Obama, is not inconceivable.So the stakes are high. An Israeli-Palestinian peace will not ensure, as is sometimes asserted, that Iran will become peace-loving, that al-Qaeda will disband or that terrorism will be a thing of the past. But no one can doubt that Israel-Palestine, Iran and terrorism are linked both in the political psychology of the Middle East and in the strategy of many Western governmentsStopping Hamas launching missiles at Israeli civilian communities will not ensure peace nor an independent Palestine. But Israel will never concede a Palestinian state unless the Palestinians provide an absolute guarantee of an end to hostilities by all Palestinian parties.It is time Hamas showed some maturity and recognised this basic fact of political life.
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