Barely had the chuckles died on the sale of halal eggs, another ludicrous and divisive idea has been mooted. There were the non-halal shopping trolleys to prevent contamination from non-halal products. The syariah-compliant airline paid not enough need to business viability.
We had the halal staircase that reminded us of the segregated bathrooms and water fountains in the United States. Public facilities were segregated in the US then as non-whites were deemed to be less than clean and carriers of diseases that might contaminate the more hygienic segment of the population.
The races were kept apart as much as possible. There was no eating in the same restaurants, sleeping in the same hotel beds, swimming in public or private pools and certainly no contact or residual risk from water fountain or toilet seats.
The segregation of public facilities was officially outlawed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on July 2, 1964.
We are having the opposite in Malaysia. Instead of progressing, we are falling back with such divisive approaches. By segregating public facilities, we are undoubtedly splitting up the people.
The one most discordant move taken so far in the country has got to be the bumiputera traders-only IT mall. Although it has nothing to do with religion, the basis for setting up a mall was warped.
Despite voices of reason that argued against the biasness exhibited by such a move and the insularity projected by it, they fell on deaf ears. So it is with no surprise that we hear of another divisive measure.
The Malaysia Institute of International Islamic Cooperation (Ikiam) with the cooperation of the Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority (Risda) will launch a halal logo specifically for Muslim products early next year.
Risda chairman Datuk Zahidi Zainul Abidin said the halal logo would be launched at a conference to be attended by representatives from Islamic organisations within and outside the country, according to a Bernama report.
He said the proposed logo to be issued by Ikiam, which would denote products produced by Muslims, would go hand in hand with the halal logo issued by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim).
“The need for another halal logo is to distinguish products that were produced by Muslims against that of non-Muslims besides helping Risda smallholding entrepreneurs and Muslim entrepreneurs make forays into the halal markets locally and abroad,” he said.
Zahidi said this will also help clear misgivings over the veracity of halal products as some companies are said to have flouted the halal rules upon getting halal certification from Jakim.
“So, with the proposed IKIAM halal logo (going alongside Jakim’s halal logo), people will be more confident (of the veracity of halal products),” he said.
Halal certification by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) comes with stringent requirements, more so for non-Muslim business operators. Now, the veracity of halal products by them is questioned publicly.
We are now looking at two different halal certifications — one for Muslim operators (Ikiam) on top of a common one for Muslim and non-Muslim operators (Jakim).
Zahidi didn’t minced his words when he said it serves two purposes — to enable consumers to distinguish between halal products produced by Muslims and non-Muslims; and to give Muslim operators a leg-up in the halal markets locally and abroad.
If that isn’t divisive and discriminatory, then what is?