Zulfikar Shariff is a name that is anything but new as far as the news in concerned. His first brush with the authorities came more than a decade ago when he instigated a group of Muslim Primary School girls to don the hijab – the Muslim headdress – to school.
From then till his arrest, in addition to his numerous antics and bursts of demagoguery, he also has been a regular writer to public forums.
In fact, even up till 3 months ago, he still wrote an op-ed and letters which were published by The Straits Times and TODAY.
The timing of the decision to publish his letters is important in light of the fact many of his contentious postings which he was arrested for were from 2014.
His letter to ST in support of Duterte’s ‘tough talk’ contained praise for the President’s friendliness towards the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – a violent Islamist outfit.
“While his extending the olive branch to the CPP and MILF is a positive start, Mr Duterte still needs to convince his administration that lasting peace is the best hope for the country. And hope that the CPP and MILF keep to their end of the deal.”
In his letter to TODAY, which was also published in May this year, he decried ‘Institutional Racism’. For someone who argues that Muslims should take up arms against the ‘oppressors’, he does make a deceivingly decent argument for ‘the need for conversations.’
When a society believes it is acceptable to discriminate against a group on the basis of race, or makes excuses for such behaviour, then racism has been internalised and institutionalised.
If anecdotal evidence from the past few months points to institutionalised racism, then to mature as a society, it is truly time to have these conversations.
In addition to his letters to the Straits Times and TODAY, his letters have also been published by the website of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP).
As Mr Bhavan Jaiparagas, a former AFP Journalist puts it,
A bigger question: what if you’re the editor of a national newspaper which just months ago published an op-ed by said ISIL sympathiser? Do you quietly scrub the piece from your digital archive, or come clean on why you commissioned/published the piece?…
Apart from ST, the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP) also posted a writing from Zulfikar. Zulfikar had written a response to a reporter to reject the term, fugitive used to describe him.