A Few Good Men
Felicita Fedelis, in her letter to Malaysiakini published on 16 July, entitled "Harsh punishment for those stoking 'religious disharmony'", said:
"It was even more interesting to see the responses of police force and media to this issue. It was reported in The Star that the two journalists charged with 'causing disharmony' may face two to five years of jail sentence. Such 'seriousness' to the offence. I feel that if a different party had committed such an act to a different community, without question they would have been arrested under the ISA and yet we see a different reaction to this situation.
Most of the times, we do not really know what actions of the arrested persons could have threatened national security and yet in this case, where the offence committed by the Al-Islam reporters are clearly capable of causing racial or religious disharmony, the offenders are simply facing a possibility of two to five years in jail."
To try to understand the response of the government and the police so far, you have to look at how each of the offended community is expected to behave upon such violation visited upon them.
The Catholic and Christian attitude at best is a forgiving one. This has already been said by one of the Bishops. Of course they make known the violation that has happened. Even those who had made the police report, beyond that, wait for their religious elders to guide them towards closure. And most of us achieve closure by forgiving these two ignorant journos.
At worst, we make the police report and for a few, they may just hold a prayer of protest and even worse still would be an out-door candle light vigil to let known to the indignant and indifferent that this is unacceptable behaviour.
Now, the response by the Catholic and Christian community in no way undermines national security. I cannot see the use of the ISA in this instance. Honestly, I think the Catholics and Christian community have already by their response so far have shown them our disapproval and we can leave any further action to the divine.
Now, how would a violation of an equal magnitude visited upon a mosque or any Islamic rituals or practice be responded to? I don't even want to contemplate what it might turn out to be. But within the context of the laws that are there, you will see that this could trigger off a response that could very easily threaten national security within the definitions provided for under the Internal Security Act. Not that I support the ISA, but as for the various tools available to the authorities to bring calm and peace, the ISA might just be appropriate.
As to how the authorities will deal with this matter, there are several factors that will come to play.
1. The police report itself which is an expression of disapproval over a violation of self and which might be covered by some criminal act or other.
2. The attitude of the authorities of their responsibility to non-Muslims especially when the authority responsible for the outcome is insensitive towards the feelings of the non-Muslim.
3. The weight given to the justification of the actions of these two journos if this justification can be found within their own religious calling. An attempt has been made by a blogger, Mahaguru58, where he quotes one religious leader and he quotes the Quran. If you are inclined towards religious justifications, then really these two journos have done no wrong as the only thing that matter is if their actions have necessarily violated any Islamic edicts or fatwas. Since in the Catholic Eucharist it is only the bread that is consumed and it is neither dipped in wine nor is wine served, it would appear to some that their only concern for theses two journos was if they might have consumed the wine. And now that we know that wine was not consumed, and that they may have not, in their religious calling violated anything, they actually are heroes.
Now, put in that position, how then are the police going to act? There is no real harm done. The Christians have had their opportunity to put on display their very charitable Christian forgiving attitude. (Remember, Jesus said, "turn the other cheek"?) If the Christians feel that they need to let it be known that this is unacceptable behaviour...yes, go have that candle light vigil. But more importantly don't forget to pray for the tormentor and the "enemy"! Do we want reprieve? For what?
I would advocate that having made known that what was done was unacceptable behaviour, the Christian thing to do would be to withdraw. There is no need to further contribute towards retribution or punishing these two journos. That is for the laws to take their course and for human decency to prevail. If nothing happens you know if there was any decency to begin with. I do not think it is even necessary to contribute to convicting these two journos.
Maybe if it comes to trial, and if I was to stand as the prosecuting witness, the only thing I would do is to explain what the Eucharist means to me and the Christian community, then to look at these two journos in their eyes and tell them, it is not necessary for them to ask for forgiveness as it may just be beyond them to understand, but to tell them that we forgive them nevertheless. I really would not want these two to be punished for something where their own point of reference might be telling them that they may have pursued a religious calling and did no wrong. The Tom Cruise and Demi Moore movie, "A Few Good Men" comes to mind!!