Posts Tagged ‘Religion’

Diversity and Tolerance in Malaysia


One thing that always strikes me when I’m in Malaysia is the diversity. Walking around the streets of Kuala Lumpur, it almost feels like the city is equal parts traditional Malay, Chinese and Indian (statistically this is not true, of course, with a heavy skew towards Malay followed by Chinese). Of course, all of these are Malaysians, but these are the groups that make up the majority of the country.

But given the diversity that makes up this country, it never ceases to amaze me how intolerant the government is. This isn’t surprising given the country’s official classification as “Muslim”, but I am always intrigued when a country that is built upon and prides itself on diversity has such a one-sided stance on things. Homosexuality is still a crime in this country, as is sodomy, as demonstrated in the criminal case of former deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

As Malaysia continues to grow in economy and prosperity, it will be interesting to see how the political and religious views the government holds to will shift in light of a global influence. Here is to hoping that people living peacefully will be allowed and encouraged to pursue their individual happiness, regardless of what brings that. 

IDistanbul: Five Times a Day? Please, No!!


As any of you who have been to the Middle East know, it’s not unlikely that you may be wrestled from your first-morning jet lag by the croons of an imam with the first of his five daily azan, or calls to prayer–at least if you’re anywhere within earshot of a mosque (which you probably are). That served as my alarm clock on my first visit, and though it’s not exactly hummingbirds singing to the daisies, there’s a certain romantic, haunting quality about it–certainly a great way to remind you where you’ve awoken. Given that the call of the imam, or muezzin, is considered an art form, it’s usually somewhat melodic, albeit a bit tinny depending on the quality of the speakers…

Apparently, not everyone’s experience is so pleasant. Istanbul’s head of religions affairs has responded to complaints by setting up singing lessons to make sure that all 3,000 of the city’s mosques have a pleasant tune for the

neighbors. And for those voices that are just beyond repair?

The loudspeaker in the mosque will be linked to a central recording system that will broadcast a professional voice! Which begs the questions–why not just do this to begin with, and who exactly determines what the threshold of being able to sing vs. not sing is?

Istanbul's Blue Mosque