Friday, January 15, 2010

PAS True Colours Appeal to Non-Muslims

Since its inception in 1951, PAS has always been seen as an Islamist party focused on the Malay heartland and with just one aim: To set up an Islamic state.

That changed when the Roman Catholic Church sued the Barisan Nasional government in late 2007 to regain its right to use the term “Allah” to describe the Christian God in Bahasa Malaysia.

The Islamist party has already publicly backed the Catholics, citing the fact that the Quran does not prohibit the usage. But its support now comes at a cost within its own Malay/Muslim base.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a majority of Malays/Muslims — who form 60 per cent of the country — disagree with the Dec 31 High Court ruling. The bulk of them are PAS supporters.

So why is the PAS leadership doing this, countering their image as a group of hard-line fundamentalist Muslims bent solely on setting up an Islamic state where, as painted by their political rivals, non-Muslims could face a host of prohibitions?

Simple. Despite their failings and conservatism, every decision made by the Islamist party is grounded by the Quran.

It has been their supreme guide since 1951, no matter whether Malay nationalists or religious scholars helm the party.

There is also a political imperative and logic at work here. Yes, PAS could lose 5 to 10 per cent of the Malay vote but the opportunity to show non-Muslims that it is not an extremist party is priceless.

And that is what Umno fails to understand in the aftermath of the landmark ruling. PAS knows that its hardcore base of supporters will not desert it. That’s about 40 per cent of the Malay vote.

And by being firm in its principle, PAS now stands to reap support from the non-Muslims and perhaps a slice of the Christian vote that has, more often than not, backed the Barisan Nasional.

PAS spiritual chief Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat’s offer to host an inter-faith meeting this Jan 28 shows its confidence in handling the issue and projecting itself as a party that will take care of all people despite its Islamist outlook.

And Nik Aziz’s two-decade rule of Kelantan also reflects the party’s tolerance, if not respect, for non-Muslims. His pronouncements, policies and rulings have affected Muslims more, feeding their need for a pious life while allowing non-Muslims to worship and conduct their own legitimate affairs.

PAS’ true colours of setting up an Islamic state might still be a scary thought for some, but it might now appeal to more with its ready support of the Christians’ right to use “Allah” based on what is contained in the Quran.

Faith. It might just move mountains after all.

[Source: The MalaysianInsider]

Geronimo's Take : After viewing the 101 East screening of "Whose God?", there is no doubt in anybody's mind that PAS will swing more the non-Muslim votes in their favour in the coming 13GE, and it will cost UMNO and BN plenty. For all we know, UMNO could have already lost their "fixed deposits" in Sarawak and Sabah.

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