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Thread: Religion: Allah Issue - Cfm media statement - jais raid on bsm - final - 3 jan 2013

  1. #1
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    Oct 2008

    Religion: Allah Issue - Cfm media statement - jais raid on bsm - final - 3 jan 2013

    Cfm media statement - jais raid on bsm - final - 3 jan 2013

  2. #2
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    Oct 2008
    Selangor response to Jais raid on church is pathetic: Ambiga

    Published on: January 03, 2014 at 15:44 PM
    Allah Issue, Christian News,

    Ambiga slammed the Selangor government for its 'non-existent' response on the Jais raid and seizure of Bibles yesterday. - Picture by Choo Choy May

    Related Stories

    [Admin: These are all the tactics of psychological warfare adopted by oppressive regimes world-wide - create hatred and fear.]

    KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan has called the Selangor government's response to yesterday's shocking raid and seizure of bibles non-existent or at best weak.

    The former chairman of polls reform group Bersih's remarks on Twitter today comes after Sallehen Mukhyi, who holds the state religious affairs portfolio, said the raid, which led to the seizure of Malay-language and Iban bibles, was never discussed with him.

    He had also pointed out today that the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) had forgotten to inform the state administration about the raid.

    Sallehan had also said that Jais did not just take its orders from the state government but also from the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais), which means the order comes straight from the Sultan.

    Ambiga, a well-respected lawyer and rights activist, said the Selangor state government's response was “pathethic.”

    “Why is Selangor State Govt's response on Jais incident non existent or at best, weak? Hiding behind jurisdiction as an excuse is pathetic,” she tweeted today,

    Earlier, local churches said the shocking raid and seizure of bibles by Selangor Islamic authorities was a violation of the Christians’ constitutional right to freedom of religion and an “aggressive attack” on interfaith ties in Malaysia.

    The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), which represents virtually all of the churches nationwide, also dubbed the controversial enforcement action by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) yesterday as abusive and discrimination against Christians.

    “This unconscionable conduct on the part of Jais and the federal police is not just an authoritarian abuse of power and an act of harassment against Christians in Malaysia.

    “It is also a blatant and aggressive attack on the moral and multi-cultural fabric of our society which values inter-communal harmony and utmost respect for the sanctity of each other’s religious beliefs and books,” the CFM said in a two-page statement today.

    Yesterday, Jais raided the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM)’s office in Selangor and seized over 300 copies of the Alkitab and Bup Kudus, the bible in the Malay language and Iban language respectively, while two BSM officials were arrested by the police and told to report to Jais next Friday.

    Today, CFM stressed that neither Jais nor any other Muslim religious bodies must gain authority over another religion, saying that it would otherwise render the protection of freedom of religion under Article 11 of the Federal Constitution meaningless.

    “To allow one religion to be able to monitor and regulate how another religion is to be practiced is a distasteful recipe for disaster, and a contradiction of the moderation of which the prime minister speaks so frequently abroad,” it said.

    Earlier in the statement, CFM also pointed out that the raid and seizure had taken place despite the 10-point solution, a Cabinet decision in 2011 that assured Christians that they would be allowed to print and distribute bibles in the Malay and indigenous languages.

    “The unwarranted actions on the part of Jais, aided and abetted by the police, are in absolute breach of the Cabinet’s 10-points solution announced in April 2011 which stated that Christians can import, print and distribute the Al-Kitab under certain conditions, all of which have been complied with by BSM,” it said.

    It then urged the prime minister and the Cabinet to “uphold” the federal government’s “word and commitment” to ensure that the Christian community’s rights under the Federal Constitution “are not violated and trampled upon by state-level religious officers with the complicity of the Federal police”.

    The bibles seized yesterday contain the word “Allah” but BSM said its customers are not just the churches in Sabah and Sarawak, but also Sabahan and Sarawakian Christians, Orang Asli churches and other Malay-speaking Christians in the peninsula.

    It is understood that Jais' actions were taken under the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 that prohibits non-Muslims in Selangor from using 35 Arabic words and phrases, including the word for God, “Allah”.

    This Sunday, the Christian community in Selangor is also set to come under further duress as Muslim groups plan to rally outside two Selangor churches, while Umno Selangor has threatened a state-wide protest outside churches over a Catholic priest's insistence that Catholic churches will not abide by a reported Jais directive to stop using “Allah”.

    Temperatures have risen of late over the so-called “Allah” row that remains unresolved four years after it shocked the nation and led to the worst religious strife in the country’s history.

    The ongoing legal dispute between the government and the Catholic Church over its right to print the word “Allah” in the Herald’s Bahasa Malaysia section is still pending before the Federal Court, which is set to hear arguments from both sides on February 24 before deciding on whether it will hear an appeal by the Catholic Church.

    Christians make up about 10 per cent 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. --The Malay Mail Online

  3. #3
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    Oct 2008
    UMNO is taking off its gloves. Now the people can see the true face of UMNO. This is good.

    The day religious officers policed another faith in Malaysia

    JANUARY 05, 2014

    The Bible Society of Malaysia president Lee Min Choon says the Jais officials behaved like thugs during Thursday's raid. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Nazir Sufari, January 5, 2014.

    What would a Christian and a lawyer of 33 years standing have to do with Islam?

    In most countries, nothing. But Lee Min Choon found out last Thursday that the long arm of the Islamic religious authorities can somehow extend to people of other faiths in Malaysia, despite the Federal Constitution allowing freedom of religion.

    His story is well-known now. On that day, The Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) president was powerless to prevent 20 enforcement officers from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) from raiding BSM's premises in search of Bibles containing the word Allah.

    Despite knowing that Jais had no jurisdiction over non-Muslims, Lee was not even able to avoid arrest and instead, was taken to the police station like a common criminal. The Jais officials also seized 320 Malay and Iban language Bibles.

    "Right from law school, we were taught that Islamic authorities only have jurisdiction over Muslims.

    "But when I saw this bunch of thugs trying to force their way in, seizing our property and arresting me, I was utterly shocked and surprised that something like this could happen in Malaysia," he told The Malaysian Insider.

    Apart from arresting Lee and taking the Bibles, Jais officials also briefly detained BSM office manager Sinclair Wong at a nearby police station before releasing both on police bail.

    Jais has ordered Lee to be present at their office on January 10.

    In the drama that unfolded just after 1pm that day, Lee recalled that a group of 20 Jais officers behaving like thugs tried to enter the BSM office by pushing and banging on its main door, which was closed for stock-taking.

    Having little choice, he had to let them in for safety reasons.

    Five Jais officers were allowed to enter, but they started ransacking and throwing around boxes containing Bibles, with utter disregard to the holy books considered sacred to Christians, Lee said.

    In the interview with The Malaysian Insider, a tired-looking Lee said that although he knew his rights as a lawyer, his legal skills and knowledge went out the door on the day of the incident.

    "As a father who is a lawyer, I have been telling my two children to believe in the system and that our laws will protect them as long as they don't do anything wrong, but all that can be thrown out the window now," the 58-year old added.

    It was not too long ago that Lee sat down with federal ministers, including Datuk Seri Idris Jala, and Attorney General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail to come with the 10-point solution in April 2011.

    This is despite the fact that the Malay translated Bibles using the word Allah has been in existence since 1612, almost 400 years before certain states in Malaysia, including Selangor, came up with enactments banning the use of certain words including Allah by non-Muslims.

    "The 10-point solution was a result of discussions between Christian leaders including us, the Bible Society, Idris Jala and the Attorney General who sat across the table from me.

    "It was agreed that the Malay Bible, Alkitab, can be distributed without restrictions in East Malaysia while for West Malaysia it must have a cross and the words 'penerbitan Christian' (Christian publication) on the cover, to which we have been complying," he said.

    Lee also said that the Malay Bibles which are imported from Indonesia, go through a clearance check by the Home Ministry at Port Klang before they are released to BSM.

    "All this was going on peacefully for two years until Thursday when we were raided and taken to the police station like common criminals," Lee said.

    Now, he is uncertain of what is to come, and fears the repercussions of the Jais raid could be far-reaching, just like the October 14 Court of Appeal ruling, which deemed that the word Allah was exclusive to Islam.

    "You could be at home spending personal time with your husband and they could kick down the door because they are looking for a book with the word Allah in it," he said.

    On the court ruling, Lee said that although government ministers had come out to say that the ruling was limited to Catholic weekly Herald and was not applicable to the Alkitab, he tended to agree with lawyers who said that the ruling had a far wider effect.

    "We see that happening with Jais, who seem to think that since the Court of Appeal had ruled that Allah belongs only to Muslims, any non-Muslim who uses the word is committing an offence and therefore they can act.

    "So the lawyers were right, they could forsee the evil of the Court of Appeal decision," he said.

    Lee said further proof of the far reaching effects of the court ruling was the raid on BSM and the arrests of Wong and himself.

    "So unless something is done to address the situation, it can happen again tomorrow, Jais can kick down the door of the church today and burst into homes looking for the Alkitab. And they have the police to provide the jails to hold all those arrested," he said.

    Asked if he was going to the Jais office on January 10, Lee was non-committal and said that he had not yet plan so far ahead.

    But he was certain that if he did not turn up, he risked being hunted by the police.

    "The police bail document states that we have to appear in court on January 10 but it does not specify which court.

    "When I asked the police, they appeared not to know and in the end, they told me to refer to Jais," Lee added.

    Lee also could not say what steps BSM could take to ensure there would be no repeat of Thursday's incident.

    "What can we do, we are at the mercy of the system, the Court of Appeal has ruled on the Allah case and these people say the state law give them power over non-Muslims.

    "Non-Muslims are not immune to actions by Jais, that is the reality now," he said.

    Lee cautioned, however, that if the matter was left unresolved, BSM would also be prevented from carrying out its objective of providing Bibles as Jais might require them to furnish details of those who obtain Malay Bibles from them.

    "Who would want to get Malay Bibles from us if they are going to end up on Jais' database?" he asked. – January 5, 2014.

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    12:59PM Jan 7, 2014 S'gor to revise Jais SOP after Bible raid

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    The standard operating procedure (SOP) of the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department will be revised after the agency's raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) sparked outraged among the Christian community.

    Sallehen Mukhyi (right), the exco in charge of Islamic affairs, said the Selangor government will propose the revision after Jais handed over its report on the raid.

    "Jais has done its report and we will improve in terms of SOP,” he told a press conference in Shah Alam this morning.

    However, he said the state government does not intend to comment further, as the matter is under police investigation.

    "... we leave it to the wisdom of Jais and the police to resolve the case according to law," he said.

    Sallehen did not reveal the reason for review of the SOP or say what specific changes could be implemented.

    On Jan 1, Jais had raided the BSM and confiscated over 300 copies of the Malay and Iban language Bible which uses the word ‘Allah’.

    The agency said it was enforcing the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 which bans non-Muslims from using the word.

  5. #5
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    Religion: Zaid warns of political Islam gaining traction

    12:48PM Jan 7, 2014
    Zaid warns of political Islam gaining traction

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    Former law minister Zaid Ibrahim has warned that "political Islam" in Malaysia may give rise to authoritarianism.

    In his latest blog posting, he said that political Islam is gaining momentum here at a rate that is unheard of previously.

    "This means that democracy and the rule of law in Malaysia grow increasingly fragile while authoritarian rule lurks around the corner.

    "The 'Islamisation' process (in Malaysia) involves not just NGOs or social and religious activists but the very core of the government as well and the ongoing attacks on the Christian use of Allah give credence to the view held by political experts that at the next general election, the contest will be about who can play the Islamic game better," he added.

    Zaid called on leaders of political parties especially those in BN to view this development seriously.

    The former minister, who was an Umno member, excluded the party out of the equation, saying that it is "already too late to expect anything progressive from that quarter."

    "The unwillingness of Umno leaders to find a peaceful solution to the Allah issue for example is a clear sign of the march towards authoritarian rule. Invoking the name of god is just a ruse to gain support for a new dictatorship," he said.

    "PAS, I hope, will be the last bastion preventing the death of democracy in this country. Who could have imagined such a thing 20 years ago," he added, lauding PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang for his stand on the Allah issue.

    Zaid said PAS' stand that it has not objection to the word Allah being used as long as the word is not abused but used in prayers and in holy books, is a correct principle and an excellent practical solution.

    "If the government has any sense left, it should know that it is impossible to continue confiscating Bibles and the Guru Granth Sahib. And if anyone insists that nonMuslims are barred from using Allah in any context, then surely that insistence includes the singing of state anthems containing the word Allah.

    "Such a ban is patently ridiculous and impossible to implement. Furthermore, barring someone from saying or singing 'Allah lanjutkan usia Tuanku', for example, can be interpreted as an act of treason," he pointed out.

    Do not renege on Cabinet decision

    Zaid said the government should not renege on its 2010 Cabinet decision in allowing the importation and publication of the Bahasa Malaysia/Bahasa Indonesia translated bibles.

    "It should explain the decision carefully and clearly so everyone understands it. I shall leave it to them to find the courage to do so," he said.

    However, the former law minister said troublemakers have gained attention and the government is now stuck with a ban it cannot possibly enforce.

    This follows the Selangor Islamic Department's (Jais) raid on the Malaysian Bible Society on Thursday and confiscating more than 300 copies of the Al Kitab or the Bahasa Malaysia bible and the Iban translated version.

    Comparing the situation with Indonesia, Zaid said the republic preserved the institutions and protected the founding principles of the nation.

    "Operating in a democracy, the Indonesian government continues to allow the various political and religious aspirations of the nation to be aired and canvassed with all the enthusiasm adherents can muster. At the same time, no one is ever allowed to transgress the defining parameters of the Constitution.

    "In Malaysia, we think we are smarter. We think we can redefine and reformulate the founding principles of our nation - or even violate the Federal constitution outright - just because the government or some privileged interest group feels it is politically expedient to do so. We have got it all wrong," he added.

  6. #6
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    Religion: Besmirching Allah's Name By Trying to Protect It

    Imam Muhammad Musri

    Imam Muhammad Musri is president of American-Islam and of the Islamic Society of Central Florida, one of “The Three Wise Guys” on the Orlando-based public radio program "Friends Talking Faith," and a member of the advisory board of the Interfaith Council of Central Florida.

    Besmirching Allah's Name By Trying to Protect It

    Interfaith, Malaysia's High Court, Qur'An, Allah, Bibles, God, Malaysia, RELIGIÓN, Religion News

    I'm not Malaysian. I haven't visited Malaysia. Nor have I engaged in intense academic study about Malaysia. So I don't claim to be an expert on all the local dynamics that led Malaysia's high court in October 2013 to declare it illegal for non-Muslims to refer to God as Allah, which led recently to hundreds of Bibles being seized from a Christian group because they used the world "Allah" to refer to God.

    But I am a Muslim scholar and an Imam who has memorized the Qur'an. And I'm fully convinced that the Malaysian court's decision runs counter to the core values and spirit of Islam. Moreover, I call on the Malaysian high court when it hears the appeal on February 24, to correct what I believe is a tragic mistake.

    My understanding is that, because of their use of the word Allah to refer to God, certain non-Muslims have been accused of trying to mask their true identity and, by stealth, woo Muslims away from the Islamic faith.

    To the degree that the accusations are true, such behavior should be condemned--not because other faith traditions don't have the right to engage Muslims in religious dialogue in the hope of converting them, but because misrepresentation is always unacceptable. Honesty is a clearly established moral expectation in the holy writings of every major world religion.

    Fraud deserves appropriate penalties. But making it illegal to refer to God as Allah is not an appropriate solution for fraud -- if indeed fraud is the real problem. Could the real problem be the anger of poor Malay Muslims over the rising prices of fuel and basic commodities? And could this be an attempt by some in the Malaysian government to deflect that anger?

    In the same way that God is referred to as Dios in Spanish and Dieu in French, Allah is the name for God in Arabic. Dios, Dieu and Allah are not three distinct beings in a pantheon of gods. They're simply references to the deity that in English we call God.

    When cultures overlap, it's not uncommon for words to pass from one culture to another -- which is precisely what has happened in Malaysia. Because Islam has for so long been the predominant religion of the region, centuries ago the name "Allah" became the standard term used by Malaysians to refer to God.

    Non-Muslim faiths use the name "Allah" in their spoken liturgies and printed materials. It's the word used for God not only in the Malaysian, but also Arabic, Urdu, Farsi, Turkish, and many other translations of both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures.

    People called God as "Allah" before the Prophet Muhammad began teaching Islam. In the Qur'an (43:87), God stated: "And if you (Muhammad) asked them who created them, they would surely say, Allah!" Therefore, everyone has the right to call God "Allah" not just Muslims. As a Muslim, I feel honored that when our beloved faith arrived in Malaysia centuries ago it made such an impact that the entire population adopted our term for God.

    What concerns me about the court's decisions is that a word that has been so fully embraced, and that should symbolize the ultimate in love and justice, could in the minds of some come to symbolize hate and oppression. Punishing for the use of a word that's so ingrained in the daily life and worship of non-Muslims guarantees a backlash.

    The Malaysian high court's decision goes contrary to what "Allah" commended in the Qur'an (3:64) Muslims to do: "Say: O' People of the Book! Come to a common word between us and you: that we worship none but Allah!" The court's decision is not only wrong, but it is besmirching Allah's Name!

    Follow Imam Muhammad Musri on Twitter:


  7. #7
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    Oct 2008
    Wednesday January 8, 2014 MYT 7:06:10 AM
    Divining the laws in faith



    As the debate on religious freedom can transcend legal arguments it should also be seen from a theological perspective.

    READING the news in the past few weeks has evoked many feelings. But chief amongst them, for me at least, is the profound feeling of sadness.

    Sadness that acts devoid of common decency and compassion are supported not only by a sizeable portion of our society, but also by government agencies.

    I am of course speaking about the recent attacks on the Christian community over the use of the name of God.

    I could raise the fact that Article 3 of our Constitution guarantees ev*eryone the right to practise their religion peacefully. So, if the Christian community have been using the word Allah for God, in a peaceful manner, in respectful worship, then it is their right to do so.

    I could also point out that the Constitution does allow lawful limitations on religious freedom. It states that there can be control of the propagation of religion to Muslims.

    This provision is very clear: if state or federal law prescribes it, then nobody can propagate any religious teachings to Muslims, without due authority.

    There are laws in Selangor which prescribe such control. But these laws can only be used if there is non-authorised propagation to Muslims. Raiding a premises and taking away Bibles is utterly wrong because there was no act of propagation being done.

    I could raise all these legal points until I am blue in the face, but the fact remains that it is not legal niceties which are the issue here.

    Malay Muslims in this country are not going to be convinced by Constitutional legal arguments.

    For many, this is a matter of faith and their community leaders have told them that it is wrong for non-Muslims to use Allah when describing God. To say or think otherwise would be a sin.

    This mind-set of simply obeying a person with a hint of religious authority is something I am familiar with.

    I was after all raised a Muslim in this country. But to understand the mind-set is not the same as agreeing with it.

    I am loathe to tell anyone what to think, but here I would like to humbly ask the Muslims reading this, those who have not made their minds up one way or the other, to please look at the Quran. There is no theological basis for banning anyone from using the word Allah. Nowhere in the holy book does it say that “Allah” is exclusive to Muslims.

    In fact Surah 22:40 (Al-Hajj) states that the name Allah is used in all sorts of houses of worship: mosques, churches, monasteries and synagogues.

    And just because a figure in authority gives an opinion, it is merely that, an opinion. A fatwa is a person’s opinion; it is not the word of God.

    There are many opinions on this matter. The ones being made by the faith leaders in this country are not the only ones.

    People have been given minds in order to think for themselves. It is a feature of Islam that there is no priesthood; there is no papacy, no middleman between people and God.

    There is instead a presumption, right from the beginning that all people take responsibility for their own faith and their own learn- ing.

    And when studying this issue, when seeking out alternative opinions, ponder this: Is Islam a religion which condones the attack of other faiths? Is it a religion that is so small in its worldview that it can approve of one community claiming the term for God for itself? Is Islam so lacking in common decency and compassion?

    I don’t think it is and I will not be accepting any opinion that says otherwise, for a religion without the decency to respect other faiths, without the compassion to not attack other faiths, would be in my view a very poor thing indeed.

    > Azmi Sharom ( is a law teacher. The views expressed here are entirely his own.


  8. #8
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    Oct 2008
    ‘Allah’ row a non-issue, look at bigger picture, say experts

    JANUARY 11, 2014

    The Bible Society of Malaysia's office in Petaling Jaya was raided on January 2, sparking anger among Christians. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 11, 2014.

    A fatwa or edict issued by sultans is only applicable to Muslims and, therefore, cannot be enforced against those of other faiths, says constitutional law expert Dr Aziz Bari.

    Speaking at a forum entitled "Allah issue and seizure of Bibles: Between the law and religious sensitivities", organised by PAS last night, Aziz questioned the timing of the Selangor Islamic Religious Department’s (Jais) raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) last week.

    Saying that the Selangor Non-Muslim Religions (Control of Propagation among Muslims) Enactment 1988 had been in force for 25 years, Aziz asked: "Why choose to enforce it now? Everyone is waiting for the Federal Court to decide on the ‘Allah’ ruling.

    "Isn't it a better and wiser decision to let the issue cool down instead of turning up the heat? Or is this a calculated and deliberate act?"

    Aziz also questioned the reason police had accompanied the Jais team when they raided the BSM office in Damansara Kim on January 2.

    "This is a selective operation, similar to the allegations made against PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu that he was a Shia follower.”

    He said although Muslims made up the majority of the Malaysian population, they appeared to be portrayed as being under threat.

    "What sort of logic is this? This never happened several decades ago when Muslims had yet to become the majority in the country," he added.

    Picking up the same thread, PAS Parit Buntar MP Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa told the forum that 1.7 million Christian worshipers in the country could not make Malaysia a Christian country.

    "There are only 1.7 million Christians in Malaysia while 55% of the 28 million population are Muslims," Mujahid said.

    "If Christians are so capable of turning Malaysia into a Christian country, then I must learn this secret from them," he said, prompting laughter from some 200 people at the forum held at the Kuala Lumpur-Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall.

    The third speaker, National Evangelical Christian Fellowship secretary-general Eugene Yapp, said Christians did not want to fight with anyone or to take anything away from others.

    "We just want to be left alone and in peace to practise our religion.

    "We use the word ‘Allah’ because historically, it predates Islam. The English version of the Bible is actually a translation.

    "The original scriptures were not in English but in Hebrew and Greek. Hence, when it was brought to Malaysia, God was translated as ‘Allah’," Yapp said.

    He pointed out that the Anglican Church in Sarawak went back to the 19th century.

    "These traditions, including referring to God as ‘Allah’, have been passed down from generation to generation, from father to son."

    He said he once asked a Bumiputera Christian if he could stop referring to God as "Allah".

    The man replied: “Imagine if you have been alive for 40 years and one day, your hands or legs are cut, how would you feel?

    "How can you suddenly tell me that whatever I have been practising in my faith is irrelevant? Who are you to tell me this?"

    Yapp said Christians in Malaysia were angry and disturbed over the “Allah” issue, including the Jais raid.

    Aziz concurred, saying it was a Muslim's duty to protect his friends when they were being persecuted and oppressed.

    "There have been accusations in Selangor that certain Muslim individuals are helping and defending Christians. This is the duty of a Muslim.

    "The rights of Christians are not being respected and a negative image of Malaysia is being portrayed on the world stage.

    "Islam is being seen as oppressing the rights of other religions," he said, adding the “Allah” issue was a minor one.

    "Why won’t the government focus on the big picture, on corruption? Cost of living? Price hikes?"

    Aziz drew more laughter when he joked that "extremists" such as PAS were organising these forums while Umno was lodging police reports and holding protests outside churches.
    Mujahid said Muslims had to live in reality.

    "The Quran teaches us about reality. What right do I have to tell Christians what they can or cannot believe about their faith?

    "The opposite applies as well. Can a Christian come and tell Muslims what they can or cannot do when practising Islam?

    "I have entered a church. Does this mean I am no longer a Muslim but a Christian now?" Mujahid asked, drawing laughter from the floor.

    "You can laugh about it, I can laugh about it, but some parties do not treat it as a laughing matter." – January 11, 2014.

  9. #9
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    Oct 2008
    Christian leader slams Idris Jala for remaining silent on Allah row

    JANUARY 14, 2014

    Council of Churches Malaysia general-secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri (right), one of the panellists, at a forum on religious freedom held in Petaling Jaya yesterday. He says the 10-point solution was reached through open and sincere dialogues. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, January 14, 2014.
    Datuk Seri Idris Jala, one of the main architects of the 10-point solution allowing the import of Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia, needs to speak out on the consensus reached between Christians and Putrajaya, a Christian leader said last night.

    Council of Churches Malaysia general-secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri, speaking at an interfaith forum, said that the 10-point solution had been reached through sincere and open dialogue given the sensitivity of the issue.

    "It is the duty of those engaged in that dialogue to own up to the agreement that was reached and, therefore, Idris Jala, who was one of the main architects of the negotiations must stand up, or else he is not fit to be a Christian," Hermen said.

    The forum comes on the heels of heightened religious tension in the country, after the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) and police raided the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) earlier this month.The Christian leader was among four speakers at a forum in Petaling Jaya titled "Religious freedom in Malaysia: we live in respect and harmony", organised by the Community Action Network and Pusat Komas.

    Enforcement officers from Jais seized more than 300 Bibles published in Bahasa Malaysia and Iban and also detained BSM chairman Lee Min Choon and office manager Sinclair Wong.

    Two weeks ago, Muslim NGOs protested near a church in Klang against the right of Malay-speaking Christians to worship in Bahasa Malaysia using the word “Allah”.

    In October, a three-man Court of Appeal bench allowed Putrajaya’s appeal to reverse a High Court ruling that Catholic weekly Herald could not use the word “Allah” as "it was not an integral part of the Christian faith and practice".

    The church is appealing that decision.

    Prior to the 2011 Sarawak elections, Putrajaya had endorsed a 10-point solution to allow Christians in Sabah and Sarawak to use “Allah” in the Malay version of the Bible.

    Hermen said yesterday that Christians had been committed to dealing with interfaith matters through dialogue and have discussed religious issues with the prime ministers – namely Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

    He spoke of long conversations between Christian leaders and Dr Mahathir.

    According to Hermen, during Dr Mahathir's time, there was an understanding that Christians would be able use Malay Bibles in the church compounds.

    "Dr Mahathir had then asked: 'what if Muslims pick up the Bible, read it and get confused?'

    "We told him that: 'probably the Muslim would be able to read, so he will know it is a Bible. And if he does not want to be confused, then he should not read it'." Hermen added that to reduce any chance of confusion, Christians suggested putting a cross on the cover of the Bibles.

    "The Christian community has been committed to peaceful negotiations and have been dealing with the prime ministers, but perhaps we must change our strategy. That is not helping us very much."

    He said the assumption was that Christians were using the Malay Bibles to convert Muslims, but there has been no proof of that.

    Another speaker at the forum, Catholic priest Reverend Father Clarence Devadass also felt that Christians were made to look like a religious bogeyman with a master plan wanting to convert people.

    He said the way forward was to forge friendships and reach out to one another.

    "There is great mistrust and suspicion among each other today and the print media and television are determined to project a certain agenda.

    "The road to respect and harmony must begin with mutual trust.

    "Ultimately, we are brothers and sisters," he added.

    National Indian Rights Action Team (NIAT) president Datuk Thasleem Mohd Ibrahim was blunter, calling the current religious tension a political weapon, especially after the Barisan Nasional government lost its two-thirds majority in the 2008 general election.

    "Finally, they realised that the Malay community is not what some wolves in Putrajaya think they are," he said.

    Thasleem said the seizure of Bibles was an injustice to Christians.

    He said he had written to the chief justice after the Court of Appeal ruling on the “Allah” issue to say that the composition of an all-Muslim bench was unacceptable under Islam.

    Islamic Renaissance Front director Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa lashed out at the Selangor government over its handling of the Jais raid on BSM.

    "It took six days for the menteri besar to come up with a statement, and it was a very mild statement.

    "If we are pointing fingers at the ruling government for stoking religious tensions, can we shut our eyes on Pakatan Rakyat? This fiasco started in their state.”

    Farouk said to move forward there must be political will from both sides of the divide.

    "The PR leadership's failure in demonstrating that it upholds constitutional rights of minorities must be addressed, otherwise they are no different from the government."

    Farouk added that there was a need to push forward and liberalise the minds of Muslims. – January 14, 2014.

  10. #10
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