Sunday, March 07, 2010

Al-Islam's apology good - but what say UMNO-led BN and Najib? In defence of all Malaysians...or just some?

It was good that the magazine AL-Islam has apologized. It would be better still, if the 2 reporters also personally apologized.

But these apologies, coming after the AG's decision not to charge, does not save the  perception  that UMNO-led BN have little(or no) respect for the other than Islam religions in Malaysia. 

1Malaysia - PM and government must be seen to be the PM and government of all Malaysians, not just Malays. PM and the government must be seen to be the PM of persons of all religions, not just the Muslims. Likewise the Rulers in the various States must be seen be the Rulers of all Malaysians, irrespective of ethnicity, religion or culture - not just the Rulers of Malays and Muslims. 

In fact, we should start referring to them as the Rulers of  Malaysia (or Malaysian states), rather than as Malay Rulers, a term that connotes that their primary (or only) concern is for Malays, which really is and should not be the case. The concern of these Rulers must be for all persons from the particular State, and they must be Defenders not just of Islam - but the promoters of respect and rights of all the religions of Malaysia. Maybe, our Prime Minister could work out a proposal about how we should be referring to the Rulers of States under his 1Malaysia concept.

Islamic magazine Al-Islam has issued an open apology to the Catholic Church and Christians, which has been posted on the website of its publisher, Utusan Karya.

According to the apology, the magazine's editor apologised for running the May 2009 special report, titled 'Tinjauan Al-Islam Dalam Gereja: Mencari Kesahihan Ramaja Melayu Murtad' (Al-Islam visits church: To verify apostasy among Malay teens).

Al-Islam said that the report had "unintentionally hurt the feelings of Christians especially Catholics".

NONEThe monthly magazine also explained that the report was to investigate allegations of apostasy and the actions of its journalists were never intended to deride the Christian faith, let alone desecrate their house of worship.

It stated that Al-Islam journalists who wrote the article also apologised for unintentionally hurting the feelings of Christians in the pursuit of their duty.

Malaysiakini was informed that Kuala Lumpur Catholic archbishop Murphy Pakiam has already been told about the apology. But attempts to contact Pakiam at his residence for comment has so far been unsuccessful.

Sources close to Utusan Karya, which is subsidiary of Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia, said the apology was already in the works but it was delayed as they had to consult with lawyers about the legal ramifications.

This apology came following Thursday's press conference where Pakiam told reporters that the church would be satisfied if they received an apology from the magazine or its publishers over the matter.

Planned protest cancelled
Meanwhile, the planned protest against Al-Islam on March 25 will not go ahead in the wake of the apology.

Protest organiser K Sudhagaran Stanley said that the apology has vindicated the Catholic community and they now consider the matter closed.

"We accept their apology, the case is closed and we have won. But we will not forget the way the attorney-general and the government have acted on this case.

"There was no action even after we sent a letter to the prime minister," he said.

Stanley lodged a police report against the two Al-Islam journalists in June last year, resulting the magazine being investigated under the Sedition Act.

However, it was revealed last month that no further action will be taken against the journalists.

According to attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail, the case was dropped because the journalists had intended no offence, and were not aware of the significance of the Holy Communion.

The journalists had entered two churches in Kuala Lumpur to investigate allegations of proselytisation of Malays, and had taken the Holy Communion, spat the wafer out and photographed it.

The photo accompanied their article was published last May. Many Catholics considered this as an act of desecration of their faith.- Malaysiakini, 6/3/2010, Al-Islam apologises to Christians
 The apology, as it appears in the Al-Islam website..

Majalah Al Islam memohon maaf berhubung penyiaran artikel `Tinjauan Al Islam dalam Gereja: Mencari Kesahihan Remaja Melayu Murtad’, keluaran Mei 2009,  kerana artikel itu tanpa disengajakan telah menyinggung perasaan para penganut agama Kristian, khususnya Katolik.

Adalah dimaklumkan, tinjauan itu dilakukan bertujuan mencari kesahihan dakwaan orang awam berhubung isu tersebut. Al Islam juga sama sekali tidak berniat untuk menghina agama Kristian, apatah lagi mengganggu atau menceroboh rumah ibadat mereka.

Dua wartawan yang terlibat turut memohon maaf kerana tidak menyedari apa yang mereka lakukan semasa melaksanakan tugasan tersebut telah menyinggung perasaan para penganut agama berkenaan. Al Islam berharap perkara seumpama ini tidak akan berulang lagi. – Pengarang Al Islam

Permohonan maaf ini juga akan disiarkan dalam Al Islam keluran April 2010 yang akan berada di pasaran pertengahan bulan ini. - Al-Islam Website, 5/3/2010, Permohonan Maaf Kepada Gereja Katolik

It would be good that the 2 reporters also make personal apologies.

What hurt the Catholics most was not the article per se, but what the reporters did when they lined up, and received the holy communion, and thereafter spit it out and photographed. For Catholics, we believe that this is really the body of Jesus, and the holy communion is not just a symbolic reminder. 

Malaysia really must include our education syllabus education about the various religions, in Malaysia including its practices. An understanding of what the different religions believe in, and the meaning of some of their actions in worship would really go a long way in building greater understanding and respect for the different religions/beliefs in Malaysia. I am certain that the various religious authorities would be ever willing to assist in developing the syllabus and subject content. 
Christians believe in ONE God - not 3...not 4. Some of the banners used in recent protests also indicates that many non-Christians are ignorant of this fact. Education will surely assist.

Consider this Prime Minister Najib..

Will the PM, DPM, Ministers and UMNO-led BN reprimand the Attorney General on his decision not to charge the persons concerned in the Al-Islam case?

Did the Home Minister do anything to Al Islam after the incident? Was there a letter of reprimand? Was there a 'show-cause letter' sent to Al-Islam? - if anyone has any information, good if post it under comments.

Or, will the UMNO-led BN and Najib just sweep this 'Al-Islam' matter under the carpet, and not deal with it since the magazine has already apologized. That would be the easy way out, but Malaysians are still waiting for the UMNO-led BN's response on this matter...Most likely, they won't as the UMNO seem to be playing the 'conservative Muslim' card, in their efforts to try win back the Malaysian Muslim support...mmm. We shall see...we shall see..

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