Letter: Roots of violence

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The Independent Online
Sir: Abdul Hakim Murad (letter, 25 September) claims that there is no "Ulster-style religious violence" between religious groups in Malaysia.

I had the pleasure of sharing a flat with three non-Muslim Malaysians for a year. One was ethnically Chinese, and the other two were Christian Ibans from Sarawak state. While there is currently no such violence in Malaysia that I know of, that doesn't mean that there won't be. Inter- group strife is based on inter-group intolerance and dis- crimination, and my flatmates seemed to feel that this was the way of things in "confidently Muslim" Malaysia.

Many of Mr Murad's points were well taken, but I suspect he is falling into the trap shared by the powerful all over the world. As a white South African, I have seen at close range the arrogance that makes it all too easy to believe that there is no problem in the powerful exercising their power to exclude those not of their own tribe from the status of equal in human importance. Such people can often be heard complaining bitterly when they wake up in the middle of an era of Ulster-style violence, and cannot understand that the roots of the day's events lie in their own actions and inaction in the past.


Sutton St Nicholas Herefordshire