By: Azly Rahman

Many Malaysians are angry and deeply bothered by Universiti  Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in the Kuala Lumpur suburb of Shah Alam organizing what was reported as an “anti-Christianization” conference, held on Dec. 12. It was the second such seminar held on the campus in 2015.

There is nothing new about the practice of such institutions in training students to fear themselves and non-Muslims and non-Malays especially. It is a natural program  to instill fear as part of a culture to defend the existence of race-based ideology. It is part of an apartheid strategy of Malaysian education that I have written about in many articles.

What is new is the question: how do we dismantle this system  and work  towards peaceful co-existence?

I do not think the Christians and particularly Catholics in Malaysia appreciate being bullied endlessly. I do not think they want to be branded as “evil people trying to spread false and dangerous message threatening Islam.”  Muslims in the west are being bullied as well. But neither is right.

I do not think they need to be associated with the Christian Crusades that took starting more than 1,000 years ago, or being linked to the undeniable brutality of the Christian-imperialist armies that annexed cultures and massacred natives in Latin America, Africa, Asian, and even Northern America.

I don’t think the Christians and Catholics in Malaysia want to be known as inheritors and carriers of the sins of their fathers . I think they just want to live, work, and worship in peace and be ensured that their safety be guaranteed in a majority Malay Muslim country.

Why do institutions such as UiTM need to instill such a fear and to unnecessarily turn young and hopefully not-yet-Daesh/IS radicalized students into hating Christians? Why not encourage education  for peace and conflict resolution? Why not teach empathy through ongoing good dialogue among Malaysians of different faiths? Why warn  them of the “dangers of Christianization” and not expect some lunatic fundamentalist groups to take the warning  one step further and translate it into violent action, sanctioned and legitimized by the authorities?

What education should look like

Haven’t we heard the word ‘Islamophobia’? Why create ‘Chistianophobia’ at a time when the world is bipolar, violent, and plagued with all kinds of phobias?

Let us come back to our senses. Here is my thought on what education  should look like if we are to prevent racial and religious riots in future:

The education of today’s bumiputeras via the special  privileges given to them in all aspects, from preschool to postgraduate – especially the education of Malay Muslims through the racially-based institutions linked to the ruling party – has one objective.

It is to produce more and more members of the Malay-Muslim-bumiputera privileged class  who will ensure that the non-bumi, non-Muslims be kept outside the gate of equality, equal opportunity and meritocracy, even though they are the rightful citizens of this country whose parents and grandparents have labored for this country so that the most privileged class  of Malays and non-Malays can continue  to be created to enslave the laboring classes of all races.

No need to have a complex understanding of Malaysia’s philosophy of education, national development, frameworks of class evolution, politics of curricular studies, interplay between race, religion, and ideology, or any other complex theories of neo-feudalism to understand this simple fact of education and social reproduction in Malaysia.

We need to turn the system upside down and renew prosperity  in this country, based not on the advancement of this or that race, but the simple human logic that each and every one of us is a human being with dignity and an important part of Humanity.