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Religious tensions escalate in Malaysia following ‘Allah’ socks row

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NEW DELHI: In the wake of escalating tensions following the controversy over socks bearing the word “Allah,” Malaysia’s King Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar has called for calm and maturity. The nation has been rocked by a series of incidents stemming from the sale of the controversial socks, leading to legal charges, death threats, and a failed petrol bomb attack.
Public outcry
As per a South China Morning Post report, the scandal erupted when the ethnic Chinese owner and directors of KK Super Mart, along with a factory that shipped the controversial socks, were charged with offending religious feelings. The case has ignited intense reactions within Muslim-majority Malaysia, exacerbating racial tensions and sparking a wave of religious fervor among conservative Malay Muslims. The charged parties have vehemently denied the allegations while also issuing apologies for the offense caused.
A call for unity from the throne
Amid this tumultuous period, Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, who recently ascended to the throne, emphasized the importance of moving beyond the incident to foster national unity. “Persistent anger brings no benefit. All parties, especially community leaders, must act with maturity,” he stated, urging an end to the provocation.
The situation took a darker turn with the announcement of a 68-year-old man’s arrest for threatening the life of Akmal Saleh, a prominent figure in the Malay nationalist party Umno, who had been advocating for a nationwide boycott of KK Super Mart, the SCMP report said.
Social media’s role
The controversy has not only strained societal bonds but also entered the political arena, with figures like Akmal Saleh drawing criticism for their handling of the issue. Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim cautioned against the rush to judgment fueled by social media, highlighting the need for responsible discourse.
The incident has sparked widespread debate about the intersection of politics and religion, with experts warning of the dangers of unleashing religious hatred for political gain. In a concerning development, a KK Super Mart branch was targeted in a failed petrol bomb attack, underlining the high stakes of the ongoing controversy.
Amid calls for continued boycotts and criticism of the perceived attack on Islam, there is a growing consensus on the need for a measured approach to navigate the crisis. The King’s call for restraint and understanding reflects a broader desire for peace and reconciliation in a nation grappling with deep-seated religious and racial divisions.

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