The Islamic party’s procession, which featured replica swords, shields, and other weapons, is being investigated by police amid mounting criticism.
The controversial parade that saw PAS Youth members marching with fake weapons is currently under probe for possible offences, according to Terengganu police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Rohaimi Mohd Isa.
He said police were notified of the event, but not of the parade of the group marching with fake weapons. It quickly became known as the ‘PAS War Parade‘ in some local media outlets.
“We were not informed about the parade with replica of weapons, which has caused uneasiness and concerns among the public. An investigation will be carried out to identify any offences in the programme and appropriate action will be taken,” he said in a statement.
Terengganu PAS Youth members were seen clad in medieval Islamic war costumes and armed with fake swords, spears, and shields. The march has attracted considerable criticism from multiple quarters.
Local media reported that the march was part of a two-day PAS Youth gathering called “Himpunan Pemuda Islam Terengganu” (HIMPIT). In English, it simply means Terengganu Islamic Youth Association.
In addition to the handheld ‘weapons,’ a pickup truck that carried a giant fake sword on its cargo bed was also part of the march.
LEADERS VOICE CONCERNS
Religious Affairs Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Na’im Mokhtar said the march was inappropriate and could be considered detrimental to society as it promotes a bad perception of the teachings of Islam.
“The organiser should have highlighted Islamic values that are based on peace, unity and harmony. Everyone is responsible for preserving peace and harmony in society. Any action that can cause public unrest should be avoided,” he added.
Dr Mohd Na’im wasn’t the only one dishing out the criticism.
Emir Research Chief Executive Officer Datuk Dr Rais Hussin said PAS is attempting to hijack Islam with its own political narratives and images.
He also blasted the extremist party for misrepresenting Islam. “As Muslims, we cannot allow this. We need to provide the true narrative of Islam,” Rais tweeted.
For its part, Terengganu PAS Youth chief Mohd Harun Esa responded that the programme has been an annual event since 1991, and it was an assembly of the Islamist party’s state youth machinery – as if that makes war parades acceptable, perhaps.
Mohd Harun said there aren’t any elements of violence and provocation, and it was a long tradition by the local PAS Youth divisions to bring their “replicas” to the march.
Continuing on in this vein, in what can only be interpreted as blatant gaslighting, he said it was really no different from cosplay, a type of performance art involving costumes.
“Just like marches or cosplay competitions across the nation where they showcase their favourite hero weapons. In fact, some war classics in cinema that used weapons are also accepted by society,” said Mohd Harun, apparently trying to draw some nonexistent parallel between what’s shown on a screen in a cinema and throngs of ‘armed’ men marching through the actual streets.
We completely disagree with his false equivalency attempts, but don’t take our word for it. We’ll let the pictures do the talking:
PAS’s gaslighting efforts aside, if this was merely some sort of performance art, netizens pointed out that even cosplayers have rules to follow, one of which is not brandishing weapons publicly, even replicas.
Another netizen brought up a similar case in which two local cosplayers were arrested for having fake weapons and wearing tactical costumes in a mall in September 2022, adding that he hoped those involved in the PAS ‘war march’ would face similar consequences.
“Would this be tolerated if it was a group of Christians marching through the streets with Bibles and swords, shouting slogans?” another netizen asked. “Would such a parade even be allowed?”
‘WHO ARE YOU GOING TO WAR WITH?’
The march itself isn’t the problem, according to critics. It’s the war imagery and display of weapons, even if they’re just replicas.
Mohd Hisyamuddin Ghazali, an activist with the group Save Kelantan, questioned the motives of the event where youth leaders were seen marching with fake weapons, shouting defiantly at times.
“Are we going to war? If you look at the event schedule, the programmes were focused on PAS leaders gathering,” said Hisyammuddin, also known as Syam Ghaz, on Facebook, noting there was no mention of a war march.
He also raised his concerns that such an event could even be unlawful.
“Holding a motor gathering is good enough. For me, PAS Youth should not partake in such marches. It seems there are elements of threatening public order, even though the weapons were fake,” he added.
Another Malaysian, Alif Shahril, also questioned the meaning behind Terengganu PAS Youth’s so-called cosplay.
“What is the benefit of this? Who are you going to war with?” Shahril tweeted.
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