A Call for Justice

Laura Holm Pedersen

Studenteropgave: Speciale


Abstract A new development can be identified within the civil society in Malaysia. A development that has resulted in a general call for justice, voiced through coalition groups that cut across categories of affiliation. This development is triggered by an increasing inculcation of Islamic values into the political system, which has interfered with the understanding of Malaysia as a country that can provide a framework for coexistence within a multicultural society. This thesis seeks to cover this development through the examination of civil society organizations’ responses to the position assigned to Islam. The issue has been explored through a case study of civil society organizations in Malaysia. The empirical data mainly consists of interviews collected during a two-months fieldwork in and around Kuala Lumpur, the Capital of Malaysia, from March to May 2015. The informants are representatives from civil society organizations, politicians from Islamic parties, and scholars. The methodology of the fieldwork is based on the grounded theory approach where emphasis is on a constant movement between empirical data and selection of a theoretical frame. James Scott’s theoretical work Dominance and the Arts of Resistance is applied as an overall frame to follow the responses of Muslim-Malays and non-Muslims from hidden criticism to overt criticism of the increasing focus on Islam within the political sphere. Charles Taylor’s notions of recognition and identity within his work Multiculturalism, Examining the Politics of Difference, and John Rawls’ Political Liberalism, in which he examines how citizens can live together and share the same rights despite differences within their social doctrines, are applied to identify the understanding of political justice that stems from the political system. Throughout the analysis, these theories will be applied to discuss how Muslim-Malays and non-Muslims perceive political justice within a diverse population. From the analysis, it is suggested that the increasing focus on Islam has led both Muslim-Malays and non-Muslims to feel subordinate due to the hegemonic position of Islam. This understanding of oppression stems from a continuous implementation of Islamic laws and values, which creates an imbalance within an ethnic and religiously diverse society. The common feeling of oppression has led Muslim and non-Muslim CSOs to join coalition groups, that confront the hegemonic position of Islam. They have a normative perspective, and a vision for the structuring of society and political system. This vision is founded in recognition that all members of society must renounce the possibility of securing their social doctrine a hegemonic position, in order to be able to practice their comprehensive doctrines. These groups confront the structures that maintain relations of dominance and subordinance.

UddannelserInternationale Udviklingsstudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato1 dec. 2015
VejledereJohan Fischer


  • Legal Recognition
  • Islam
  • Malaysia
  • Political Justice