By Ahmad Fairuz Uthman
‘Iksim should stop demonizing Christians’ is the title of a Jan 8 article penned by Dennis Ignatius.
Dennis is referring to a presentation made by professor Mahamad Naser Disa, chief executive officer of Iksim at the Putrajaya International Security Dialogue (PISD).
For the record, Dennis was formerly a Malaysian ambassador who reportedly remained in Canada as an evangelical pastor after his final diplomatic assignment in Ottawa.
Apparently Dennis did not read the whole Iksim paper which was provided to all guests and participants of the conference hosted that day by the Home Ministry. Dennis really should have done so in the first place before publicly sharing his mind (or unless he had not attended the dialogue at all).
I am almost certain that Dennis had written his negative commentary solely based on the New Straits Times report headlined ‘Other countries encouraged to emulate Malaysia’s way of combating terrorism, extremism’ (5 Jan 2018).
I am going to refute Dennis’ allegations against Iksim by quoting his words followed by my own comments.
Dennis Ignatius wrote: “In the first place, Christians are scratching their heads because no one has ever heard of such a group. A Google search reveals exactly zero references to RECS.”
My comment: Which Christian groups are you referring to, Dennis? Don’t waste your time on that the term ‘RECS’. We’re actually talking about evangelicalism and it’s all over the net. Perhaps you should also watch this latest news clip below from TV AlHijrah:
Dennis wrote: “Whoever came up with it apparently wanted it to sound like the Christian equivalent of Islamic State and make it out to be some sort of Christian terrorist organization.”
My comment: The ‘RECS’ evangelicals are very near to what author Iain Buchanan documented in his 2015 book Sang Nila Utama and the Lion of Judah – Dominionism and Christian Zionism in Malaysia. Buchanan used the terms “dominionism” and “Christian Zionism” to describe the syndrome.
Dennis wrote: “….if RECS poses such an imminent danger to Islam and the nation, why haven’t the authorities moved against the group, identified their leaders or charged them for whatever crimes they are guilty of? Does Iksim know something that Bukit Aman is not aware of?”
My comment: Many peace loving and law-abiding Malaysian Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and non-radical evangelical Christians are wondering the same too. And that was exactly what the Iksim CEO had said in his presention to the PISD conference. It’s all about radicalism dan extremism, i.e. being radical and being extreme.
Dennis wrote: “It’s hard not to conclude that this is nothing but another sordid attempt to stigmatize Christians, part of a wider strategy to sow dissension and suspicion between Christians and Muslims.”
My comment: “Sordid”?….I don’t think so, Dennis. You definitely did not read the Iksim paper that was distributed to all the POSD participants. This ‘RECS’ has nothing to do with non-radical Christians in Malaysia.
On the contrary, the RECS are identical to those radicals and extremists amongst the Muslims, or any other religion for that matter.
Dennis wrote: “It is utterly shameful, as well, that this is what passes for ‘strategic studies’ these days and by a taxpayer funded institution no less.”
My comment: As far as I’m aware, Iksim does not use taxpayer money unlike some Christian lay pastors preaching part-time whose salaries (as full-time politicians) are being paid by the government.
Dennis wrote: “Since when is praying considered a threat to national security? Are groups like Iksim so insecure, so paranoid that the mere prayers of an obscure Christian group (if they exists at all) are enough to drive them to distraction?”
My comment: What we’re saying is that those unusual prayers – in some cases with the Israeli flag being displayed in the hall – are full of provocative words, such as, “claiming this nation”, “to take possession of this land”, “allow me to chase away the enemy”, “..give me Johor Baru or I’ll die” and “…..I’m waking up the Giant of Asia”. Such words are far from normal prayers.
Dennis wrote: “It’s high time that Islamic groups like Iksim stop demonizing Christians and start practicing some of that ‘wasatiyyah’ or moderation that they are so fond of talking about.”
My comment: Demonizing Christians? Hello are you okay, Dennis? It’s doubly confirmed that you did not read the whole Iksim paper and digest its contents, what more try to understand the term wasatiyyah from an Islamic scholar’s point of view.
In fact, Christians should be thankful to the professor for being so honest in bringing up this ‘hot’ issue – so hot that many Christian European diplomats felt so uneasy with the facts being laid out point blank by him.
Read Ian Buchanan’s book, Dennis, and you will understand that all these are not new. Jangan terkejut keling, kata peribahasa Melayu!
“It is for over three decades,” said Buchanan (2015, p.16), “that Malaysia has been targeted by Christian Zionist groups – and the effort has gained momentum since 2010″.
According to Buchanan, this country’s Christians (especially the Chinese) have been moulded into “an effective Trojan horse – for work both in Malaysia and in the wider region.”
Evangelicalism is a form of warfare where the boundaries between secular and spiritual are blurred. “Above all, it is often very hard to determine where the spiritual purpose shades into the purely political purpose” (Buchanan, p.23).
Understanding how dominionists deploy a range of tactical options to restructure diverse and complex societies, Iksim posits the “Radical Evangelical Christian State – RECS”.
Are they a real threat? Iksim believes that they are. And that it has now become necessary to present the true implications of Christian dominionism as well as provide accurate interpretations of facts and ideas pertaining to ‘RECS’.
As such, Iksim’s suggestion for our Malaysian security authorities to start digging into the Special Branch files and, hopefully, to charge them based on existing laws is a most apt proposal.
But Dennis Ignatius declares, “It’s high time that Islamic groups like Iksim stop demonizing Christians”.
Methinks the gentleman doth protest too much! Nobody is “demonizing Christians”. We’re talking about the radical evangelicals.