Historical truths and Inclusivity for peace and progress

It has been a great joy to hear about the election of Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor in London.

Jun 03, 2016

Dear Editor,
It has been a great joy to hear about the election of Sadiq Khan, the first Muslim mayor in London. The majority of Londoners who would have seen, felt or experienced the train bombing on July 7, 2005 perpetrated by Muslim extremists did not succumb to fear mongering, but had shown their maturity in selecting the best candidate based on vision and merit. The tendency to make sweeping generalizations about Muslims as perpetrators and supporters of terrorism did not hold water to a cosmopolitan and educated electorate.

The interesting aspect about Sadiq Khan is that he chose to have the swearing-in ceremony in a Christian Cathedral as a reflection of his intent to represent every single community as the mayor of all Londoners. The words of the mayor, the cathedral and the multi-faith communities who participated in the ceremony have a very significant meaning of historical truths and inclusivity which could be a model to our Malaysian nation.

Europe, today, even though secularized, is not able to erase its Christian roots and identity, as the evidence of Mayor Sadiq Khan choosing to have the swearing-in ceremony in a Christian cathedral reflects his message that he represents all communities shows the inclusive nature of European Christianity. The presence of multifaith communities for the ceremony shows that diversity and pluralism are not the enemy of faith. This shows that credible religious faith is not built on irrational fear of the other, but with confidence of one’s own faith and solidarity with others who do not share the same belief. Even though Sadiq Khan is Muslim, his upbringing was rooted in an inclusive European Christian Culture which is acceptable to all communities in London.

Therefore, it is time Malay-Muslim politicians, who are engrossed in ethno religious superiority learn, from Muslims like Sadiq Khan and Londoners, what it means to be inclusive in a multi-ethnic community. The sense of ethno religious dominance does not represent the essence of religion. For non-Muslim communities in Malaysia, it is vital to understand the Malay Muslim roots of this nation, to have a better understanding of why Islamic identity is important for the Malay community in this country. It is only by understanding history, the evolution of a nation and its symbols that communities can understand why things are the way they are. Peace and tranquility could emerge from such understanding. This is where dialogue is vital in bridging gaps of disunity among communities.

It is hoped that policy makers, politicians and Malaysians as a whole, could go beyond ethnocentric politics of fear, and embrace diversity. The election of a first Muslim mayor of London shows how acceptance can help in achieving peace and prosperity.

Ronald Benjamin.

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