On his visit to Muslim Malaysia, Obama at least went so far as to acknowledge that the Muslim country has some human rights issues. That’s more than he did for his own Indonesia, which is a genocidal nation engaged in an illegal occupation of Christian territories.
And he did it with the usual backhanded slaps at America.
President Obama celebrated America’s closer ties with the Muslim-majority nation of Malaysia Sunday, even as he suggested “there’s more work to be done” here on the issue of human rights.
“There’s a recognition by the Malaysian government that more work needs to be done,” Obama told reporters, adding he shared with Najib that democratic protections such as “the respect for freedom of assembly, the respect for people of different races and different faiths and different political philosophies — that those values are at the core of who the U.S. is, but also I think are a pretty good gauge of whether a society is going to be successful in the 21st century or not.”
Obama even used the example of alleged racist remarks by L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling as a lesson in the importance of racial and ethnic tolerance for Malaysians as well as Americans. “Like Malaysia, we constantly have to be on guard against racial attitudes that divide us, and instead embrace our diversity as a strength,” he said.
The difference is that Sterling is an individual. Islamic law in Malaysia however uses state power to persecute and discriminate.
Islamic authorities in Malaysia on Thursday seized 321 Bibles from a Christian group because they used the word Allah to refer to God, signaling growing intolerance that may inflame ethnic and religious tension in the Southeast Asian country.
The raid comes after a Malaysian court in October ruled that the Arabic word was exclusive to Muslims, most of whom are ethnic Malays, the largest ethnic group in the country alongside sizeable Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities.
… just like America.
In a separate event Sunday, during a town hall with young leaders from 10 ASEAN countries, Obama spoke more explicitly about discrimination against minorities as he replied to an online question from a Burmese youth. The president noted that some Muslims in Burma have experienced discrimination, and added, “Then there are times in Malaysia where people who are not Muslims find themselves perhaps being disadvantaged.”
Watch the differences in language.
Obama bluntly accuses Burma of persecuting Muslims, but when it comes to Muslims persecuting Christians in Malaysia, he uses convoluted indirect language with plenty of weasel words.
But that’s what a weasel does.
Najib, for his part, defended his regime’s human rights record while echoing Obama’s remarks that “there’s more work to be done.”
“President Obama and I are both equally concerned about civil liberties as a principle.”
That I believe.
He prompted shouts of appreciation during the town hall event from a delegation of Indonesians when he mentioned he had lived in their home country. And the president suggested that he would continue to promote closer ties between the United States and Asia, because it is “part of the connection I felt, and still feel, to this region.”
There he goes, misspelling ‘religion’ again.