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Thread: Religion: Religious repression in Selangor

   
   
       
  1. #1
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    Religion: Religious repression in Selangor

    Islam group threatened to protest at Church over use of Allah.

    Other groups responded below. This is significant.

    No protest but unity at Church


    Alfian ZM Tahir
    January 5, 2014

    Christians performed their Sunday prayers without any disturbance, while solidarity groups offered support
    VIDEO INSIDE
    KLANG: It was all calm at the Church of Our Lourdes, here, as parishioners peacefully attended Sunday mass despite earlier threats from far right Malay groups, linked to Umno, for a demonstration outside the church.


    Church goers described today’s mass as unique as they welcomed a group of mixed faith individuals including Marina Mahathir, the daughter of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who came to show solidarity to their fellow Malaysian Christians.


    A group, known as “In the name of Allah” gathered in front of the church distributing roses to parishioners as a symbol of unity amongst the Abrahamic religion believers.


    “There is nothing to be afraid of, today is a unique day and I am happy to see Malaysians from different faith together at one place,” said 55 year old Santana who attends the service weekly.


    Santana said the whole Allah fiasco was an uncalled for, and explained that it was just a matter of language differences.


    “This is not a religious issue. It is a language matter. This whole mess is unnecessary,”


    “Certain quarters tried to sensationalise this issue for personal gains,” Santana added.


    When approached, Marina lambasted the authorities for failing to address the matter where she described Malaysia as a bible grabbing state.


    “Forget Visit Malaysia Year. We are known as a country that grabs bible,” she shrugged.


    Echoing Marina’s sentiment, the spokesperson for ‘In the name of Allah’ Nik Elin Nik Abdul Rashid said that both the Muslim and Christian faiths believed in one God.


    “We belong to Allah and Allah does not belong to one group of people.”
    “There is no other God but Allah,” she said.


    Earlier reports claimed that the church would continue their Sunday rituals despite the Klang Muslims Solidarity Secretariat confirming that they will proceed with their rally against Christians over the latter’s insistence on using the Arabic word ‘Allah’ for God.


    It was also reported that Selangor Police chief, Shukri Dahlan had also warned protesters not to proceed with their plan to rally to the church and has ensured safety for church goers on Sunday by deploying police officers to man the church area.


    Among the non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the Klang Muslims Solidarity Secretariat coalition are Jalur Tiga Malaysia (Jati), Selangor Perkasa, Klang Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma), and Pertubuhan Ikatan Kebajikan dan Dakwah Selangor (IKDDAS).
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  2. #2
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    The symbolism is very powerful and could be the start of a new trend. Make love, not war!

    Bracing for protests over Allah, Christians meet Muslims bearing flowers





    BY YISWAREE PALANSAMY
    JANUARY 05, 2014
    LATEST UPDATE: JANUARY 05, 2014 12:20 PM

    Bearing flowers, Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir was among some Muslims who turned up at the Our Lady of Lourdes Church. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 5, 2014.
    Nearly 1,000 Catholics turned up for Sunday mass at the Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Klang, Selangor, this morning expecting an angry mob of Muslims protesting the possible use of the word Allah in prayers but instead, met a group bearing flowers.



    Among the few Muslims who turned up was social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, who brought a bouquet of flowers, and was part of a group expressing solidarity with the Christians.
    The daughter of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad lambasted Putrajaya over its inaction and told it to forget about the ambitious Visit Malaysia Year launched with much fanfare last night.



    "Hardly an example of moderation, we are now known as a country which grabs Bibles," she said outside the church."Who wants to visit a Malaysia like this where there is no moderation?



    Marina arrived at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Klang, bearing a bouquet of flowers, with members from non-governmental organisation (NGO), Sisters in Islam (SIS), and several others who turned up in a show of solidarity with Christians.



    "We are here to show solidarity with the congregation. A lot of us here are Muslims and we believe Islam is a religion of peace.



    "It is not something that we only say (in words), but there must also be action," she told journalists outside the church.



    After the service ended, she passed flowers to parish priest, Reverend Father Michael Chua, with worshippers cheering and applauding the act.



    On Thursday, a coalition of Malay-Muslim groups had said that they would gather at the church to deliver a memorandum protesting against the Christians' insistence on using the word Allah.



    The Klang Muslims Solidarity Secretariat was the first to name the church where the planned protest would take place.



    Its president, Mohd Khairi Hussin, had said ties between Muslims and Christians had been cordial before the church insisted on using the Arabic word Allah in its worship.



    During the sermon today, Chua also told the congregation to keep Herald editor, Reverend Father Lawrence Andrew, in their prayers.



    "Father Lawrence is now bearing the brunt of everything. We have to pray for him," Chua said.



    Several worshippers expressed their appreciation to Marina and the rest of the solidarity group.



    "We are really glad for the group which came to support us. They know this is gross injustice by some politicians," a worshipper KJK Koshy said.



    "What wrong did we do? Why grab the Bibles? Thank God for some sensible people who are around," he said, pointing to Marina’s group.



    R. Gomathi said that while she was initially appalled with the way the issue was blown out of proportion, she felt glad to see the solidarity group at the church today.



    "For me, it is a wonderful day to see people of all races coming together in the name of solidarity," Gomathi said.



    For Fiona Biggs, the solidarity shown by Marina and the other Muslims was heartwarming.



    "Nothing much from the government but the support from common people like Marina and her Muslim friends is nice,” she said.



    Meanwhile, a gathering was held today by the Muslim Solidarity Klang at Padang Sultan Sulaiman Klang to protest against the use of Allah by non-Muslims.


    Last Thursday’s seizure of some 300 copies of the Bible by the Selangor Religious Affairs Department (Jais) in the Malay and Iban language further strained worsening ties between Muslims and Christians over the usage of the Arabic word Allah which translates as God.



    Although global Islamic scholars have clarified that the term can be used by anyone, state Islamic authorities in Malaysia have reacted negatively to reports of churches using the word Allah in its Malay language sermons.



    The tussle over the word Allah arose in 2008 when the Herald was barred by the Home Ministry from using the Arabic word. The Catholic church had contested this in court and won a High Court decision in 2009 upholding its constitutional right to do so.



    Putrajaya later appealed the decision and successfully overturned the earlier decision when the Court of Appeal ruled last October that "Allah was not integral to the Christian faith".



    Christians make up about 9% of the Malaysian population, or 2.6 million. Almost two-thirds of them are Bumiputera and are largely based in Sabah and Sarawak, where they routinely use Bahasa Malaysia and indigenous languages in their religious practices, including describing God as Allah in their prayers and holy book.


    Besides the Bumiputera Christians from East Malaysia, some of whom have mov
    ed to the peninsula to live and work, Orang Asli Christians in the peninsula also typically use Bahasa Malaysia in their worship. – January 5, 2014.
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    No law to charge priest with treason in ‘Allah’ row, say lawyers




    BY V. ANBALAGAN, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
    JANUARY 04, 2014

    Conservative Muslims have demanded that Father Lawrence Andrew be charged with treason after he said that the Catholic church would continue to use the word 'Allah' in Bahasa Malaysia masses. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, January 4, 2014.
    Malaysia does not have a law to prosecute a Catholic priest for treason against the Selangor ruler by ignoring a royal decree not to use the word “Allah”, say criminal and human rights lawyers.


    They said that treason did not apply in Malaysia where the Federal Constitution reigns supreme despite calls by several conservative Muslim groups that Father Lawrence Andrew should be charged with treason.


    Human rights lawyer Andrew Khoo Chin Hock said Malaysians were living in a constitutional monarchy and the days of absolute monarch were over.

    "It does not matter whether the views are contrary to what the ruler had said. This is the consequence of living in a constitutional monarchy where the Federal Constitution reigns supreme," he told The Malaysian Insider in Kuala Lumpur."So the question of being treasonous against a ruler does not arise and it is the constitutional right of a subject to express freely his views but in a responsible manner.


    Khoo said the Federal Constitution took precedence over the Selangor constitution.


    Lawyer Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu said there was no specific legislation or provision in existing statute books to act against anyone for treason.


    The Penal Code only provided for an offence of waging war against the state but the facts of Andrew's case did not constitute such an offence, said Baljit, who is also a criminal law lecturer and author.


    Baljit, along with other lawyers, described as ridiculous the call to act against Lawrence Andrew, who is also the editor of the Catholic weekly Herald.


    He said those advocating such action were trying to get political mileage.


    Lawyers for Liberty adviser Eric Paulsen said the call to act against Andrew was just sensationalism.


    "It might be impolite to ignore the sultan's decree but Malaysia is governed by the Constitution and rule of law," he said.


    Paulsen said the sultan's decree was merely advisory in nature.


    "The call by certain quarters to act against Andrew is to score political points and to be seen as heroes among the Muslim community.”


    The human rights lawyer said that treason only applied in an absolute monarchy, adding that "we are not living in the 15th century Malacca sultanate".


    Subang Umno division chief Datuk Zein Isma Ismail was quoted as saying by Malay daily Sinar Harian on Thursday that Andrew’s remark was akin to going against the sultan of Selangor’s decree.


    “This is penderhakaan (treason) towards the sultan’s decree and we demand that he apologise,” Zein was quoted.


    The National Fatwa Council also expressed concern that inaction over Andrew’s comments could cause unrest.


    Its chairman, Professor Tan Sri Abdul Shukor Hussin, was reported by Berita Harian as saying that the situation could worsen if the church did not comply with the state law.


    The daily also reported that Perak Mufti Tan Sri Dr Harussani Zakaria had said those who insulted Islam by challenging court decisions, the Federal Constitution and the country’s rulers were traitors.


    Harussani went further when he reportedly called on the government to take firm action, such as imprisoning traitors and revoking their citizenship as well as banning churches that continue to use the word “Allah”.


    Religious tension had been mounting over the "Allah" row after the Court of Appeal last October upheld the home minister’s ban on the Herald from using the word on grounds of national security and public order.


    Things became murkier when the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) said last week it would stop churches in the state from using the word in compliance with a state enactment passed in 1988.


    Last year, the Selangor ruler issued a decree that “Allah” was exclusive to Muslims and could not be used by religions other than Islam in Selangor. – January 4, 2014.
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    12:58PM Jan 5, 2014
    Selangor Umno defies ban on Klang 'Allah' protest

    1158 37
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    Selangor Umno members attended the rally against the Christians' use of 'Allah' this morning in Klang, despite party orders to stay away.

    The rally, originally planned in front of the Lady of Lourdes Church to protest The Herald editor father Lawrence Andrew for calling on Christians to continue using the word 'Allah' in their Malay prayers, was moved to a field nearby after a backlash from critics.

    About 100 people - comprising members of Gerakan Masyarakat Prihatin, Jati, Isma and Pekida Meru division along with Umno Selangor members - turned up at Sultan Sulaiman Club field to call on Andrew to apologise over his statement.

    Kapar Umno deputy chief Saroni Judi who was present said he was worried that the use of 'Allah' by Christians would be abused.

    “It is a cunning tactic. I urged Muslims out there who still don’t understand (the problem), especially those with religious background, that this is not just an assault on our thinking but on our beliefs.

    “It (the Christian's use of 'Allah') is to create familiarity, so that it will be a non-issue when they use the word ‘Allah’.

    "Later the children will say there is ‘Allah’ in the bible and there is ‘Allah’ in the Quran, so we (Muslims) can pray in churches as well as mosques,” he claimed.

    Yesterday Selangor Umno chiefNoh Omar banned his members from attending the rally and from rallying outside churches statewide, after critics blasted the ruling party for supporting the protest.

    Meanwhile Sunday mass at the said church proceeded without disruption while a group of Muslims including activist Marina Mahathir showed solidarity with the churchgoers by gathering outside bearing flowers.

    Christians who observe the religion in Bahasa Malaysia say they have been using the term 'Allah' to refer to god in their prayers and texts for over a century.

    The matter became acrimonious when the Home Ministry banned its use, and escalated when the High Court ruled that the ministry's actions were unconstitutional and lifted the ban.

    'Don't blame Jais, blame exco'

    Saroni also slammed Selangor exco member for Islamic affairs Sallehin Mukhyi for pleading ignorance over Selangor Islamic Affairs Department’s (Jais) raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia on Thursday.

    Sallehin (below) in an immediate response to the Jais raid claimed on the same day that the religious department, which answers directly to the sultan, had neither informed the state government nor discussed it with them.

    “Either he is not working, or he is sleeping. Either he is irresponsible, or he doesn’t want to know. If he does not know, who does?

    “He should know this. (If he doesn't) it shows that the exco is not helping much with state administration,” he said.

    At the rally, the lobbyists Sekretariat Solidariti Muslim Klang announced that they will fax a letter of protest to father Andrew regarding the use of the word ‘Allah’ in churches.

    The secretariat’s chairperson Mohd Khairy Husin said the letter will express their regret over Andrew’s statement insisting that churches will continue to use the word ‘Allah’ in their Malay-language prayers.

    He said it contravenes Section 9(1) of the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988, which bans several words including ‘Allah’ to be used in context of non-Islamic religions.

    “The existence of this enactment is guaranteed by Article 11(4) of the federal constitution, where although there are also guarantees of religious freedom, it is conditional.

    “Therefore his (Andrew’s) arguments regarding Article 11(4) needs to be read together with Article 11(1) and cannot be separated with other clauses,” the letter read.

    Article 11(1) of the federal constitution says every person has the right to profess and practise his religion, and subject to Article 11(4), to propagate it.

    Article 11(4) allows state law, and federal law in the case of the federal territories, to restrict the propagation of any non-Islamic religious doctrine amongst Muslims.
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    Why use the Sedition Act on a Catholic priest, ask critics




    BY V. ANBALAGAN, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
    JANUARY 08, 2014



    Criminal lawyers have questioned why a Catholic priest is being investigated for sedition when Putrajaya had declared two years ago that the law will be repealed.


    They also expressed concern that such a law, which must contain elements of violence for a conviction, is now being used on a Catholic priest who was merely asserting the fact that “Allah” has been used in the Malay language bibles for more than a hundred years.


    Lawyer Edmund Bon (pic) said it was ridiculous for the police to investigate Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of Catholic weekly Herald, under this draconian legislation.





    "He and his religion have been promoting to resolve religious conflicts through discussion and dialogue. Suddenly the police are probing him for sedition," he said.


    The lawyer, who has appeared in numerous sedition cases involving politicians, said there must be a genuine threat of violence for the offence to be proved.


    "It is ridiculous that the law is being used to persecute the priest compared to certain individuals and non-governmental organisations who had taken an aggressive stand."


    Bon added that Malaysians were peace loving people and not many would resort to violence to find solutions to religious problems.


    "So using this law in the current tense atmosphere makes it even worse."


    Selangor DAP chairman Tony Pua said the investigation smacks of obvious double standards.


    "As if the religious tension in this country isn’t hot enough, police have decided to turn up the heat further by commencing investigations on Andrew."


    Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew looks on during a press conference at the state secretary of Selangor’s office in Shah Alam yesterday. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 8, 2013.Pua said this as police had not taken any action against other religious leaders who made statements which were far more controversial, seditious and even dangerous.


    Pua pointed out that Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria issued a “fatwa” on January 3rd declaring it “halal” (permissible) to shed the blood of participants of an anti-price hike rally held on New Year’s Eve on the basis of the “bughah” concept.


    “Bughah” refers to an armed revolt by Muslims against a just ruler or government, in accordance with Islamic law.


    "The call by the Perak Mufti is a call using religion to justify violence and murder against peaceful protestors against the recent price hikes by the BN federal government.


    "Who will take responsibility if any of the protestors were killed as a result of the Mufti’s irresponsible edict?


    "Despite the outrageous and indisputably seditious call made by Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria, not a single finger has been lifted to chastise, much less investigate the Perak Mufti for his statement," said Pua.


    This, he said, applies similarly to various Perkasa leaders such as BN candidate for Shah Alam, Datuk Zulkifli Nordin, who made fun of Hindu deities and questioned the purity of the Ganges River, or Datuk Ibrahim Ali who incited the masses to burn the AlKitab.


    "No action were taken against these individuals despite the severity of their 'sedition'," said Pua.


    "On the other hand, Father Andrew was merely asserting the fact that 'Allah' has been used in the Malay language bibles for more than a hundred years in this land without controversy or restrictions.


    "He was certainly not calling for bloodshed or inciting violence."


    Lawyer Datuk Baljit Singh Sidhu said the Sedition Act was still in the statute book because it had yet to be amended or repealed but questioned why Andrew was subject to an investigation under this law.


    "Yes, the police can investigate because reports have been made. But why are they seen acting prematurely?" said Baljit, a law lecturer and author.


    He hoped senior police officers were assigned to investigate the reports lodged against Andrew and a wholesome probe was conducted.


    Baljit said a cursory look at the situation before reports were made disclosed that there was no offence committed under the sedition law.


    "I hope the case will be classified as 'no further action' or the public prosecutor will use his discretion not to frame charges on grounds of public interest."


    Lawyer Amer Hamzah Arshad expressed shock as this was the first time the law had been used on a religious leader.


    "I think given the sensitive nature of this matter, all parties must control their emotions."


    He questioned what could be achieved for investigating Andrew under a penal law when the church leader was merely expressing his views in public.


    "I hope nobody is doing anything destructive with a sinister motive," he said, expressing hope the police probe would end on a "sweet note".


    Amer said this was a trying phase for Malaysia but was confident the people would come out more mature over the Allah row.


    More than 80 police reports were lodged against Andrew who had allegedly said that the word Allah will continue to be used in Bahasa Malaysia services in churches in Selangor.


    His lawyer, Francis Pereira, said his client was being investigated under Section 4 of the Sedition Act.


    Andrew was at the Selangor police headquarters yesterday where he had his statement recorded.
    In July 2012, Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the repeal of the Sedition Act 1948, in his move then to regain the momentum for reforms ahead of the general election.
    The prime minister said the 64-year-old law would be replaced with a National Harmony Act, as a new law would be better equipped to manage "our national fault lines." – January 8, 2014.
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