It is rather surprising that the Western media started to call Ennahda party in Tunisia as a ‘moderate Islamist party’. The same label has been used to describe the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, to differentiate them from the ‘radical’ Salafi parties. It was not the case a couple of years ago and unimaginable by many considering we are just ten years post-911; the tragic bombing of the WTC in New York. ‘Moderate’ Islamists appears to be a new jargon to describe the ‘not so bad’ Muslim guys who were previously designated with a plethora of Islamphobic labels by the same media which included among others ‘the radical Islamists’, ‘extremist banned group’, “radical Islamic fundamentalist”, “jihadist militants”, etc.
The war drums are beating again. Several purportedly “Islamic” NGOs have banded together and decided to do something about apostasy in the country. The organisers are holding a “Himpunan Sejuta Umat” (“Gathering of a Million Faithful”) or simply known as HIMPUN, at Stadium Shah Alam this weekend as a “show of strength” to openly oppose apostasy among the Muslim community. While on principle I do support the purpose and aim of this community movement, I do believe that this gathering is moving in the wrong direction and that it will do little to impact things on the ground.
It is without a doubt that apostasy is a very serious offence in Islam, and there are no ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ about it. However, individuals like Shairul are from the flock of ‘liberal Muslims’ who prefer to abandon the Qur’an and Sunnah injunction with regard to apostates in favour of their ‘values’ from the West concerning freedom of religion.