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PETALING JAYA: His Majesty the King of Malaysia Sultan Ibrahim’s call on Wednesday for all parties to stop taking advantage of the Allah socks issue has struck a chord with prominent Malaysians.

They are now calling for boycotts of businesses to be halted as it is hurting workers and the economy.

Nusantara Academy Strategic Research political analyst Prof Dr Azmi Hassan said calls to boycott certain businesses are concerning as some of its advocates are attempting to benefit by gaining publicity for themselves while sowing discord among the people.

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“The satisfaction felt by those participating in boycotts stems from a sense of having taken action, although it harms Malaysians, especially the majority of workers in the businesses who are (locals).

“Those calling for boycotts often disregard the repercussions, such as the possibility of Malaysians losing their jobs. This absence of accountability only worsens the situation.

“And when the businesses being targeted are owned by non-Malays, the comments on social media even border on racial slurs and discrimination. This should stop as we are all Malaysians, and as His Majesty has rightfully said, the people should be united, not divided.”

Azmi said His Majesty has been consistent in his call for unity and in one incident, he ordered a Muslim-only laundry to stop its discriminatory practice of not serving non-Muslims, saying it was embarrassing and against his inclusive vision.

In calling for the end to boycotts, Azmi said its ripple effect extends beyond the initial target and affects a wide range of businesses, intensifying the danger faced by them.

“What was once a sporadic occurrence has now become a common affair. Boycotts are now being called each time someone feels offended or wants to prove a point. But it is crucial to realise that such calls are no longer driven by geopolitical concerns, but by issues of race and religion.

“We should reject the idea of segregating services based on ethnicity, in which non-Malay owned premises serve only non-Malays and Malay-owned businesses serve only Malays,” he said, adding that this would undermine the principles of unity that are essential for a society to thrive.

Azmi said the current boycotts are exacerbating tensions between Malays and non-Malays, as well as Muslims and non-Muslims, resulting in “discomforting” race relations in the country.

He said racial slurs and similar comments should be immediately halted as they do not serve any benefit. Rather, they only satisfy personal desires and provide politicians with an opportunity to exploit the situation for their gain.

“Comments surrounding boycotts spark diverse opinions, with some Malaysians making insensitive comments. It perpetuates harmful stereotypes and promotes divisions among racial and ethnic groups.

“Malaysia is a diverse nation with people of various ethnicities living together. It is disheartening that after six decades, some people still view fellow Malaysians as immigrants.”

International Islamic University Malaysia Department of Qur’an and Sunnah Studies senior lecturer Dr Abu Hafiz Salleh Huddin said the call for boycotts at every dissatisfaction has gone beyond reasonable bounds and contradicts Islamic teachings.

“People must be moderate even in a state of anger. The Prophet PBUH said: ‘The most despicable among people in the eyes of Allah are those (who are) ruthless and argumentative’.

“Therefore, in light of the ongoing situation, they should return to these fundamental Islamic values to mitigate tensions and foster understanding among all parties.”

Abu Hafiz said while it is understandable for society to feel anger and frustration, it is crucial to respond within the parameters of the law.

“Similarly, any call for a boycott should avoid worsening inter-racial tensions in the country. Instead, efforts should be made to promote peaceful resolutions where conflicts arise,” he said.

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