When a Malaysian man, Syed Azmi Alhabshi, was repeatedly asked why he insisted on organizing a touch-a-dog day in his predominantly Muslim country, where Islam is the state religion, he made no bones about it: To dispel negative stigma surrounding canines, he said.
But as dogs are the second-most-reviled animal in Islam, right after pigs, lots of his fellow citizens took the initiative as an intolerable provocation. Zurairi AR, a fearless humanist and skeptic, wrote an entertaining piece about the flap in the Malay Mail Online, under the Dawkins-referencing headline “The Dog Delusion.”
[C]onservatives have since accused Syed Azmi and the organisers of deliberately provoking the Malay-Muslim community with the event, which they say has no place in Muslim-majority Malaysia.
Facebook page “Rakyat Malaysia Tolak Konsert Liar” (Malaysians Against Wild Concerts) — recently in the spotlight for sparking the campaign against the annual Oktoberfest — for example, lamented that there have been too many “weird occurrences” happening lately, singling out “beer festival, nude festival, and dog festival.”
What happened next would delight lecturers teaching logic who are looking for examples of “slippery slope” arguments: Some Muslim leaders freaked out over what will come next. Pork-eating festivals? Sex festivals promoting safe sex?
Such things make Allah mad, was the fear among some critics (who have more than a few things in common with good old Pat Robertson):
[B]y the logic of the Selangor chapter of Malay rights group Perkasa, all these vices were to blame for the recent spate of tornadoes in the country.
Of course, responses to the doggie-touching plan were varied.
While the English-medium press praised the event for a rare show promoting kindness to animals, Malay-medium newspapers have demonized it instead for reasons ranging from “inviting slander towards Muslims” to “insulting Islam.”… [T]wo days after the event, Malay daily Sinar Harian even carried a front page boldly urging participants to “repent”, before dedicating four pages of stories against the event.
A friend of mine likes to say “Dogs are among the finest creatures on earth. When an entire religion despises them, what does that say about the religion, and the people who follow it?”
I kinda like pigs too, actually.
(Image via Shutterstock)