a) the Malay-Muslim polity have boxed themselves into a corner due to their intransigent view that any discussions about Islam ( even one not directly related) carries the hidden agenda of a plan to subvert the religion. This view is partly fed by recent legal issues pertaining to apostates and the prevailing laissez fair approach when commenting on the religion and its tenets by a bunch of ignoramuses who have neither the expertise or locus standi to do so, on the other side of the divide.
b) the widely held perception amongst Non-Muslims in general that Islam is an oppressive religion, a perception further augmented by propaganda from the West and the association of discriminatory and sometimes grossly unfair acts with its adherents in the local political setting. In other words, the non-muslims themselves have boxed themselves into another corner in approaching Islam from this blinkered and jaundiced perspective. this perception is further cemented by the way the Malay vernacular press and certain segments of the Muslim community play it.
So in the end, the people who are caught in the crossfire are the ultimate losers, in this case a group of people gathered to discuss their inalienable rights. In addition, Islam gets another bloody nose. For me, the forum should go ahead provided the following were met:
1. No discussion on the rights of the individual to convert.
2. No besmirching of the religion and its principles.
3. The preparedness of the non-Muslim community to understand why the Muslims emphasize the need to resolve these matters via the Syariah courts and vice versa and come to an understanding on how to overcome the logjam.
4. The involvement of all the relevant stakeholders in the discussion ( I am not sure.. but were the respective organisations i.e., Jakim, the Syariah lawyers etcetra invited or is this another one sided Islam bashing fest.) and if they were invited why pass up the opportunity to put forth the Islamic perspective
If all the above had been met, then it is sad that a golden opportunity to resolve a series of issues underlying a conversion has been drowned in a deluge of emotion and ignorance......
(to be continued)