Malaysia: Isma pledges a million supporters in nationwide anti-Comango crusade

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — Two months after Malaysia was grilled in a peer review, Islamist group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) launched today a nationwide campaign against human rights recommendations made by the Coalition of Malaysian NGOs (Comango) involved in the process.

Called ‘Sejuta Ummah Tolak Comango’ (Community of a million rejecting Comango), the campaign will include a petition and nationwide rallies which have started since early November.

“We will deliver (the petition) to the government and this is also as a signal to United Nations members to reject (Comango’s) demands,” Isma deputy president Aminuddin Yahaya said here.

“Their evil actions can disrupt the harmony among races which all this time have lived in peace.”

Isma has held 15 of such rallies so far in higher education institutions, while 80,000 of leaflets about Comango have been distributed nationwide.

Distributed at mosques after Friday prayers, the leaflets slammed Comango for allegedly calling for the freedom to renounce Islam; the protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) rights; the removal of Malay privileges; the freedom to embrace Syiah teachings; and the right for Catholics to refer to God as “Allah”, among others.

Marina Mahathir, the eldest daughter of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was featured alongside prominent lawyer and co-chairman of election reform group Bersih Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, among other vocal civil rights advocates in the leaflet.

The Islamist activist group also named several non-government organisations including Sisters in Islam as supporting Comango.

A prominent civil rights activist in her own right, Marina had described Isma’s allegation that she was one of the masterminds behind Comango as “wholly untrue” and has threatened legal actions against the group.

Isma has been at the forefront of attempts to discredit Comango, which has also come under fire from other Muslim activists here who claim the group’s human rights recommendations to the United Nations ran counter to the “true” teachings of Islam and the sovereignty of the Federal Constitution.

Isma, which has since signed on with a coalition of Muslim NGOs called MuslimUPRo, also accused Comango of attempting to spread “liberalism teachings” backed by Western powers.

Comango’s recommendation for Putrajaya touches on issues such as the administration of justice; freedom of religion, expression and participation; rights to work, health and education; indigenous and migrants’ rights; and discrimination involving sexual orientation and race.

The coalition is made of 54 NGOs, which also included Amnesty International Malaysia, Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ), Tenaganita, and Seksualiti Merdeka.

Malaysia had gone through the Universal Periodic Review by United Nations in October to assess its human rights conditions, during which some 19 countries, including Muslim-majority ones, asked Malaysia to sign one or more of the six core international conventions on human rights which the Southeast Asian nation has yet to ratify.