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2015, In The City: KL-related transmissions

To the ones who aren’t Saiful

My thoughts are today with the victims of rape, sexual assault, and harassment who never saw justice in Malaysia, who think they never will, and whose stories are met with skepticism, disbelief, shaming & blaming.

You’re statistically NOT a Malay dude yang boleh selamba je meet-cute with the Prime Minister over your scholarship dreams of being a pilot. Your alleged rapist is also unlikely the govt’s most disliked Malay dude either. Paham-paham lah kan.

We all know now that if THAT was your situation and your question is “Will the court take my rape seriously?” They will say “Yessss we believe you sangat-sangat, jom kita lokap up your attacker so no one gets hurt by ’em againnn

My thoughts are today with you,
the people who have yet to experience that justice,
who are watching the judgement of this case blow up,
who don’t give a shit about what “really” happened because
they’re seeing a narrative of rape that shows
it really IS about power & privilege,
not what x or y were wearing or whether they were ‘asking’ for it.

(“We must not forget who’s involved in this rape allegation […] women have a tendency to exaggerate abt a sexual act” – Justice Zamani Abd Rahim, who also thought in 2012 that children find it hard to differentiate fact from fantasy re: rape. In 2013, verdicts also show Malaysian judiciary pretty much believed 2,097 out of 2,111 men were good dudes just wrongfully charged w/ raping kids. A 2005 WCC Penang study found attitudinal and structural factors stack the odds against victims of sexual crime EVERY step of the way in the courts: first, in getting a case to trial; second, in getting a hearing free of stereotypical prejudices; and finally, in getting a conviction.)

We need to stay undistracted, stay connected, stay aware of injustice. Our condition can only change when we change ourselves (13:11).

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2015, die Menschen: kitorang ni kan...

There’s been another attack! Muslims, explain yourselves!

espen_antonsen2espen_antonsen

So this guy saw my (re)tweets of  the Charlie Hebdo attack in France and decided to have this kind of conversation with me about it. Yoooo. Even I have beef with religion sometimes, but this isn’t how I work it out.

I lost connection halfway through the Great Ocean Road drive I was on though— which I realise was nature’s way of telling me to chill the fuck out and be present at this:

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But now that I’m back and looking at this empty white box, my feelings about the bigoted tweets of Espen Antonsen are back.

Why did I fire up this post? Do I want to change his mind?

I almost thought I’d commit to that at first. But I’ve faced sentiments like his enough to know I’m better off eating Maggi with a finger. I mean, there’s the genuinely curious. And then there’s someone who thinks the awful crime in France = the Quran is violent and wants him killed— and can then even confidently lecture another person about a 1,400 year old non-English text like he’s got it 100% figured. He even sarcastically adds “Help me figure it out” like I almost thought he was serious for a second there!

I wonder if it’s occurred to him to doubt for a second that he might not know any more or less about the Quran compared to, oh idk, an actual Muslim. I’m talking basic humility vs. hubris here— of course there are non-Muslims who explore the Quran more than some Muslims, but I’m guessing it takes a lot more work to get there than this guy did.

Maybe he’s convinced that whatever I could know is delusion, but what he knows is inherent expertise-slash-fact that he can mansplain away to me. I mean, he kindly Googled a few links for me to prove the Quran is totes violent. GAME OVER, right?

The best part you guys, the kuah to the cucoq, is he actually tells me “I think you fail to understand the difference between the words in the Quran and your relationship and interpretation of your religion.” Eat your heart out, Alanis Morissette.

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At this point, I believe he’s trying to make me see that because the Quran wants him killed, a small minority of Muslims kill. Which leads me to wonder, why is that so important to him?

It’s just that… people, everywhere, historically, have committed murderous shit and justified it with all kinds of reasons, dude. Espen Antonsen is a Norwegian man, but am I looking to him and all Norwegians to renounce mass murderer Anders Breivik? He’s a white man, but do I insist he constantly renounce the white man serial killer stereotype? Do I think white people are being constantly preached to kill me? No, no, and no, but I do wonder why those who do kill never get called “terrorists” as often. I wonder if people like him think about these double standards. And I sure as hell don’t think just because a book terrorists (pretend to) read and is (too) easily associated with happens to be one of the most influential books of all time, that it’s influencing them to kill people, then reduce the politics of their crime to pretty much just that, and then dare someone else who’s read the book to prove (over several tweets) that it doesn’t want to kill me too.

You wanna know what I see? A dude who doesn’t think he’s being bigoted or Islamophobic just because he graciously used “a small minority of Muslims” in one of his hostile tweets. You know, like that actually strengthens his case or something.

But Espen, the fact that you think you totally got a revered text of 6,000+ verses figured out real quick and feel well-qualified to be That Guy being hostile to a totally unrelated Muslim about “a small minority of Muslims” over several tweets sounds REALLY familiar.

It sounds like the people who attack others and claim to do it because of Islam. I sometimes feel sandwiched between people who sound like you, and Muslims with extremist views like them (who also kill Muslims by the way, not just “non-believers” like you). Both extremes are comfortable using that exact logic and are confident enough to commit to hostility with others who got nothing to do with it (in varying degrees of course). You both have more in common than you realise that way.

I’m sorry that I left you hanging earlier on Twitter— although you probably didn’t mind. I couldn’t help but feel replaceable in your Twitter train of thought to begin with. I’m also glad I didn’t immediately rant in tiny tweet-farts right away (an amazing roadtrip helps!) cause I think I normally would, but taking the time to process it here is much healthier for me. I think if the mainstream media has its way, you won’t be the last hostile non-Muslim I’ll need to deal with enlightening me about the Quran. Peace.

(The thing is, there is much to read and talk about when it comes to problematic patriarchal Quranic exegesis and translations— it’s something I’ve been reading about lately, and I’d love to try those conversations sometime. Just not with people who imply I’m only Muslim because I don’t think as critically as they do.)

RIP to all victims of senseless violence. I continue to distinguish between respect for these victims and a distaste for the politics they’re embroiled in.

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2014, die Menschen: kitorang ni kan..., Opinions: (slash) rant

“Is this considered abuse?”

Every once in awhile it would be good to ask: “Is this considered abuse?”

Day 14: To those in religious mainstream who refuse their kindness to trans people, I dare you to imagine a God who says it's awesome for you to contribute to the nonstop emotionally & physically abusive world of anyone singled out for being different. Isn't it disrespectful to the Creator to encourage and celebrate violence & suicide of the created? How arrogant is it to tell a person they're not good enough for God unless they force themselves to be who *you* prefer them to be? I read #LeelahAlcorn's tumblr posts queued after her suicide, and her Reddit post pleading for rescue. It's just one of many first-hand accounts that show the biggest problem a #trans person suffers is the lack of kindness from others. When I compare her words to her mother's complete denial on CNN in making her child feeling so trapped and hopeless, my heart feels so heavy. Family has so much power over the life of a young teen, and it sucks to think that if everyone treating you like crap forever isn't bad enough, the ones who gave birth to you make you feel you don't even deserve to be alive. If parents can't deal with the possibility of their child being #LGBT, and treat them like crap because they think God likes that, then they're not ready for parenthood. If you're trans and suffering, there are many people out there who'll accept you and show you kindness and love. I hope that number grows. I hope you stick around long enough to meet them.

A photo posted by Liyana Dizzy (@dzzyfrfly) on

“They would say things like “You’ll never be a real girl” or “What’re you going to do, fuck boys?” or “God’s going to send you straight to hell”. These all made me feel awful about myself, I was Christian at the time so I thought that God hated me and that I didn’t deserve to be alive. I cut myself at least once every couple days, and I was constantly thinking about suicide […] I’ve gone out with my friends 3 times in the last year, because every time my parents cancel last minute and make me do something else. It’s like they want me to have enough social interaction so I won’t forget how to interact with humans, but they don’t want me to actually have healthy relationships with people.” — Leelah

The link that triggered this entire post for me today: New And Disturbing Details Emerge About Leelah Alcorn’s Life From Posts She Made To Reddit

As you can imagine, Malaysian citizens who are trans* also share the emotionally and physically abusive world Leelah experienced— where people refuse them kindness, employment, and respect. In fact, Malaysians have no issues being outright violent to them in the so-called name of religion— everyone from their parents to the authorities who are supposed to keep them safe.

They treat oppression
As if it were the Wrath Of God!

— Qur’a ̄n (29:10)

I believe transphobic and homophobic intolerance are all just plain intolerance, and that all forms of intolerance are not in the spirit of my religion’s teachings. I believe anyone good and kind should have access to dignity, public spaces, and employment, be free of violence, and be healthy and happy and genuine in all their dignity— and I don’t think anyone gets to use God’s name to justify otherwise. I think their sex lives are none of my business. I don’t think they’re “unsafe”, or “contagious”, or a “bad influence”, or “Western”, or especially a “threat to national security” (surely there are more real threats to Malaysia). In fact, I’m sure trans* people have existed everywhere for a very long time, and are flawed and human like we all are. People in our history have shown respect to them before and can again. In Malaysia, where the Muslim majority are the most powerful and the most homophobic, I think taking LGBT discrimination personally as a young Muslim is a valid and important part of reading the Quran and practicing my religion.

Just because I am not trans* doesn’t mean I should care less about the way religion is mangled to justify and celebrate people who treat other people like crap. Staying silent is not an option for me. Look, even if you don’t “like” LGBT people, should your dislike of them mean they fear for their lives? Back in the land of Leelah, people are flooding trans* support helplines so that people who need them can’t find someone kind. That’s cold.

God-willing there will come a day when the ones who use their power to make the difficult lives of minorities even more difficult, will realise that being a ‘good Muslim’ is a lot harder than that (and being a ‘good Malaysian’ is definitely not that). Hatred in the name of God can so easily cloud the fact that the first and the most repeated verse of the Quran reminds us over and over again that God is gracious and merciful, and that the most repeated greeting of any Muslim’s life is a wish of peace.

Apakah harapan dan impian anda sebagai seorang maknyah di Malaysia? 

Also, transphobia and homophobia is not a Muslim teaching, and your fear of people looking different is probably imported by the same kind of hateful people who’d use it against you, like so:

Last but not least, a shout-out here to two important Facebook Pages: Malaysian (I Am You: Be A Trans Ally) and international (Muslims Against Homophobia and LGBT Hate). Also a lot of love for Justice For Sisters and the support they give to transpeople in Malaysia facing persecution.

She was 17. Her parents said “We loved him [sic] unconditionally, but don’t support that, religiously”

“I ask many parents browsing #LeelahAlcorn what’s more difficult to do, accepting your child or burying them.”

I continue to be amazed by the trans* people I have met who— despite all the shit, despite every kind of shit they face— are friendly, peaceful, spiritual, inspiring, HILARIOUS, hopeful, humble, sad, and (rightfully) pissed off, all at once. There is a lot I can learn from them in the process of understanding their struggles and eliminating their discrimination. Maybe you’ll feel the same, or already do.

An awesome song to roll us out!

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