Islam, other religions not under threat, says exasperated Kit Siang

ISLAM and other religions are not under threat in Malaysia, and anyone who creates such narratives is polarising race and religious relations and undermining national unity, and stern action should be taken against them, said veteran politician Tan Sri Lim Kit Siang.

Lim was responding to an independent report by the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) which had identified Islamist party PAS and its president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang to be the most strident in inciting ethnic-based narratives on social media in the lead-up to the 15th general election (GE15).

The report titled “Social Media monitoring of Malaysia’s 15th General Elections” said Hadi and his party were complicit to incitement by neither calling out nor restricting social media users from further spreading hate in relation to ethnic groups.

“Will the six state elections expected by August see the continued weaponisation of racial and religious issues online by political parties which will gravely undermine national unity?” Lim asked in a statement today (June 14).

“I urge the government to monitor hate speech and divisive language on the social media platforms which gravely undermined national unity, and to act on the recommendations of the report on the social media in GE15.”

Lim said among the recommendations are the establishment of a multi-stakeholder independent commission to address the escalation of harmful narrative and hate speech, which should be tasked to:

  • Review the root causes and drivers of harmful narratives and hate speech, especially in the context of race and religion;
  • Consult with civil society organisations to better understand the nature of hate speech and its likelihood of harm and how to proportionately respond to hate speech; and
  • Develop concrete actions and recommendations, across different actors and platforms, and in line with international standards, specifically the Rabat Plan of Action.

The analysis also recommended that the government initiate more comprehensive media and digital literacy programmes to educate students and public on the dangers of hate speech and promote equality, non-discrimination, diversity and inclusivity, he added.

“But the government should ensure that any measures adopted to combat hate speech do not unduly impair freedom of expression and speech,” Lim noted.

“I call on the government to give a ministerial statement before Parliament ends tomorrow on its response to the [CIJ] report.” – June 14, 2023


Main pic credit: Utusan Malaysia

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