On the 19th February 2016, MDI’s Zara Faris was invited to SOAS [School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London] by the group Malaysian Progressives of United Kingdom [MPUK] to debate Marina Mahathir, a board member of the Malaysian secular advocacy group SIS [Sisters in Islam] and daughter of former 4th president of Malaysia (Tun Mahathir Mohammad).
The debate topic was ‘Debate: Feminism & Islam, Compatible or Conflicting?’
Ms Mahathir is a well known – and perhaps infamous – secular campaigner in Malaysia, and has previously been known to attack Islamic concepts in Malaysia, one such example is her public denouncement of Hudud [Islamic penal laws] as not part God’s law. Marina has publicly attacked Malaysia’s movement towards more Islamic values and laws as ‘Arab colonialism’ of Malaysia [despite the irony of her frequently campaigning in English in Malaysia while wearing Western clothing].
The debate was expected by many secularists and ‘progressives’ [Liberals] to have Marina defend and refute Zara Faris, but instead of that happening, something strange occurred – Marina seemed to not engage Faris’ points, and appeared to agree with them when pushed (including even the concept of an Islamic government for Malaysia!).
One Malaysian commentator who was conversant with Marina’s previous works, wrote in astonishment:
Tune of Marina Mahathir totally had changed in front of good english muslim debater in UK. Her views were totally difference compare to what she had said in Malaysia. In Malaysia, she said verbally clear that opposing the syariah Law and subjected to reinterpretation with respect to be compatible with modern secular world. Just browse any video previously posted in youtube. If she sincerely change here in front of Zara Faris, we see as she come back to Malaysia then
The reasons behind Marina Mahathir’s refusal to rebut or challenge anything Zara Faris’ argued – and even appear to agree – will remain best known to her alone.
Unfortunately, due to the debate video being in English, many Malaysians did not get to engage with the video. Fortunately, the opening speech of Zara Faris has kindly been translated and subtitled recently into Malaysian and shared by the Malaysian group Fakir Ilmu. The video has gained over 330,000 views in under one month! [alongwith 7500 facebook shares].
Our thanks to Fakir Ilmu, we hope to see more MDI videos translated in future. For some of Zara’s written works in Bahasa Indonesian, these have been translated by ‘This is Gender’, and can be viewed here.
Sarjana Muslimah ini meruntuhkan Sisters in Islam (SIS) dalam 10 minit|
Ini baru buku bertemu ruas!
Video ini merupakan potongan daripada klip debat antara wakil Sisters in Islam, Marina Mahathir dan wakil Muslim Debate Initiative, Zara Faris yang bertajuk “Islam dan Feminism: Compatible or Conflicting” di London