Malaysian Indian Muslims want to be called Malays

March 3rd, 2008 - 4:04 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, March 3 (IANS) Members of the Malaysian Indian Muslim community want to be known as Malays and not Indians and want the law to be rationalised in their favour. The federal constitution states that an Indian is a Malay “if he professes the Muslim religion, habitually speaks Malay and conforms to Malay custom”.

“These traits are practised by Muslims of Indian origin today,” claimed Mohamed Kader Ali, president of the Malaysian Indian Muslim Youth Movement (Gepima).

“We feel uncomfortable to be known as Indians, because people automatically think we are Hindus when we are actually Muslim,” The New Straits Times quoted Ali as saying.

He added that Muslims of Indian origin suffered an inferiority complex by being regarded as Indians.

“I am a second generation Malaysian and I can safely say that from wedding rituals to the food we eat and the language we speak, we conform to Malay customs all the way.

“As such, Gepima is appealing to the government to streamline the laws and recognise Muslims born after independence as Malays in their birth certificate.

“We have been facing this problem for the past 50 years. We have written several letters to the National Registration Department but it keeps saying that it can’t do anything about this,” Ali said.

His 24-year-old son Syed Osman Mohamed cited an incident last August when he went to the Registrar of Companies to apply for a business permit.

“In the forms that I filled up, I stated Malay as my race and Islam as my religion. But the officer called me up and asked me to change it to Indian, based on how I looked.

“He only had my MyKad and it does not state there whether I am Indian or not,” Syed Osman said.

MyKad is a multipurpose digital application card for all citizens over the age of 12.

“Our children do not even know how to speak Tamil. They only converse in Malay and our wives wear baju kurung or kebaya nowadays, not the sari,” Ali said.

Ethnic Indians, most of whom went to Malaysia during the British era, are predominantly Tamil Hindus. Along with those from northern and other parts of south India, they form eight percent of Malaysia’s 27 million population.

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