When Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak invented the phrase "human rights-ism" in May to denounce humanism, secularism and liberalism as ideological threats to the particular variety of Islam institutionalised in Malaysia, he was giving his stamp of approval to a growing narrative for religion, politics and, essentially, freedom in this country. It is a narrative designed to decouple the values of religion, specifically Islam, from the values of human rights, like justice, equality and freedom.
The elevation of such a narrative comes at a time when it underpins so many headliner issues du jour – implementing hudud laws, banning Malay bibles, persecuting Shias, banning the Malay translation of Darwin's The Origin of Species, raiding weddings and funerals, and so on.
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