Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Rumour Has It...

An SMS rumour which spread like wildfire and risked a religious incident alleged that a number of Malays would be baptised at a church in Silibin and 600 Polyteknik Ungku Omar students had just embraced Christianity. It also alleged that the Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria had revealed this at the state mosque.

And the merry-go-round commenced. On the 7th November, the Prime Minister stated that those who spread malicious rumours through SMS and e-mails deserve harsh punishment.
The Prime Minister said such people deserved severe punishment because their acts could create anger and other kinds of reactions which could cause racial antagonism and tension in the country.
The Deputy Prime Minister commented on the same day that "stern action [will] be taken against the culprit who circulated a rumour via SMS..."
“Such SMSes are dangerous as they can cause a falling out between the races and create tension in the country,” he told a press conference.
"Ini perbuatan nakal," he added.

The next day, the Deputy Security Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum stated that the "Government may use ISA on those sending offensive SMS".
"We have to mete out punitive punishment on these culprits to deter others from repeating or disseminating such lies and rumours."
Then interestingly, on the 10th November, the Perak Menteri Besar, Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali, "cleared" the state mufti's name by arguing that he wasn't involved. (You might be interested to know that this was the same mufti who claimed an outrageous number of Muslim apostates in the country, who claimed that Kongsi Raya or Deepa Raya celebrations were unIslamic and that Muslims who are not religious scholars have no authority to interpret the religion.
“I just want to emphasise that the mufti is not involved. The SMS merely mentioned his name and some quotes allegedly made by him,” he told reporters at a Hari Raya celebration in Beruas.
Ah, then 3 days later, it was published widely that the Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria blamed a woman in her 40s as the originator of a text message.

And apparently, all he did was to raise his concerns over the allegations with representatives of Muslim non-governmental organisations at the state mosque.
“What I revealed was meant to stay within the confines of the meeting. I did not know that those present would pass the word around. It was never my intention to create chaos. As the mufti, I have the responsibility to remind Muslims of the threats facing Islam today,” he said.
Of course, red-faced Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali, who had earlier defended his mufti revised his stance to say that "the objective of the meeting had been to control young people so that they would not go astray." (How you do that with "rumours and lies", I have no clue)
“But somebody picked up one of the examples given... The Mufti is not involved in the SMS but he might be the reason for the SMS being spread.”
Hence it's now clear. A concerned Muslim lady passed on certain information pertaining to the alleged incident to the state mufti. The state mufti, instead of verifying the facts of the matter with the relevant parties or authorities, chose to highlight the event to the masses within the confines of the mosque, including Muslim non-government organisations. And the parties who attended the meeting, being outraged and having taken the Mufti's authoritative words, galvanised to community to protest at the Church on the day of the event.

Who then, is the rumour monger here? I'd like to think that vicious rumours spread by word of mouth is equally sinful compared to rumours spread via SMS or emails.

Our national leaders have stated it, "ini perbuatan nakal". So who's the mischevious one here?

It was stated that parties who spread such rumours, and when it comes to vicious rumours, "intent" isn't an excuse, "deserves harsh punishment". Who will be punished in this case? Will there be "stern action"?

Will the ISA be used to mete "out punitive punishment on these culprits to deter others from repeating or disseminating such lies and rumours" now?

Will anyone even apologise to the members of the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Silibin in Ipoh for causing unnecessary fear and duress?

Questions and more questions... rumour has it that...
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