"I think it is a wonderful gesture to have so many Muslims come in solidarity. We hope this will grow - the ability to see beyond barriers and boundaries and to open hands in friendship to each other," he[Parish Priest Michael Chua] said.At this, Marina[Marina Mahathir, daughter of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad] replied: "It is a reciprocal gesture of peace. In Myanmar, the Archbishop of Rangoon also spoke up for the Rohingyas (Muslims). That is how it should be."The "Muslim defenders" today were part of a Facebook initiative dubbed "In the Name of Allah" which invited to Muslims to defend the Church from the planned protest.
The ball is in the Pakatan Rakyat court, the coalition of 3 political parties - PAS, DAP and PKR that govern this State of Selangor.
Pakatan Rakyat has 44 seats of the total of 56 seats in the Selangor State Legislative Assembly - and this is way more than two thirds (in fact about 78%) - this means sufficient numbers to even make amendments to the State Constitution...and certainly to the State Enactments like the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988.
Pakatan Rakyat took a clear position on the the 'Allah' issue - and in fact, reiterated its stance just before GE13.
On Jan 8, Hadi said that the word “Allah” is not restricted only to Muslims as Christians and Jews are also allowed to use it, but the name should not be used in a wrong and irresponsible manner that could jeopardise racial and religious harmony.
This was the common stand taken by PAS, DAP and PKR on the matter, following a lengthy discussion between Hadi, Anwar and DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang.
The PAS president’s statement echoed DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng’s Christmas message in which he said that non-Muslims should be allowed to use the word “Allah” in the Malay version of the Bible.- Star, 24/1/2013, Pakatan Rakyat firm on ‘Allah’ stance
And, the people of Selangor voted for Pakatan Rakyat in GE13 - but now all that is happening contrary to the Pakatan Rakyat position is happening in a Pakatan Rakyat governed State, and these 'wrongdoings' are done not by the Federal government but by a Selangor State department - the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais). It seem to be not happening in BN ruled states?
Jais had on Thursday(2/1/2014) raided the Bible Society of Malaysia and confiscated 351 Malay and Iban-language Bibles which used the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God.
2/1/2014 - Bible Society Malaysia (BSM) chairperson Lee Min Choon and his office manager Sinclair Wong were arrested and then later released on bail at the Damansara police station, and then asked to report to JAIS on the 10th Should JAIS(Selangor Islamic Department) have jurisdiction over non-Muslims?
The action was by JAIS - and it is a department that comes under the Selangor MB and his State Exco, and the officers are employees of the State. But alas, the Chief Minister of the Selangor, the de facto Pakatan Rakyat leader and other leaders have been silent...
There is a need for Pakatan Rakyat to take a strong position but alas, the Selangor government's response is pathetic - it seems to be saying that what JAIS did was OK, and seem to be supporting the position that only Muslims can use the term 'Allah' - clearly opposite to the pre-GE13 position.
Leaders should lead - they should show by example - not just wait calculating implication to political support in GE14 and then taking the 'popular' stance. Leaders really must be governed by principles and what is right, and sometime this may require taking stance that does not now enjoy majority support - and is something that needs time and effort to get later. But make your stance clear...
Remember, it is Pakatan Rakyat that govern Selangor and you now have the necessary numbers to even amend the State Constitution...let alone make ammendments, repeal or enact new laws..
After Bible raid, S'gor says abide by sultan's decreeThe Selangor exco member for Islamic affairs Sallehen Mukhyi, in a cautiously worded statement today, urged the public to abide by the Selangor sultan's decree in the wake of a raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM).
"The state government takes the same position as the Selangor sultan that all parties must respect Islam as the official religion while non-Muslims may practice their respective beliefs according to the federal constitution.
"All Selangorians regardless of race or religion must abide by this to ensure harmony, cooperation and respect among one another, something which has been fostered for a long time," he said.
The statement made no mention whether non-Muslims can use the word ‘Allah’ nor does it endorse or condemn the actions of the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais).
Jais had on Thursday raided the Bible Society of Malaysia and confiscated 351 Malay and Iban-language Bibles which used the word ‘Allah’ to refer to God.
Salehen said he viewed the matter "seriously" and had instructed Jais to provide a detailed report about the raid and its ongoing investigation.
He added that Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has instructed that the raid be scrutinised on whether it followed standard operating procedures (SOP) which was drafted after a 2011 incident where Jais raided the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) for allegedly proselytising Muslims.
"The review will among others determine if enforcement officers conducting the operation followed SOP prepared by Jais and relevant action be taken if there is negligence or breach of rules," he said.
Meeting with The Herald
Salehen added that he will be meeting with The Herald editor Lawrence Andrew over the ban of the word 'Allah' for the Catholic weekly.
The Selangor government has treaded gently on the matter while the federal government has jumped to Jais' defence, with Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein insisting that the religious authority was merely following the Selangor sultan's decree.
The Selangor sultan had in 2012 decreed that the word ‘Allah’ was exclusively for Muslims.
The Court of Appeal also argued that the word ‘Allah’ was not integral to the Christian faith. The Catholic Church is appealing the decision.
Meanwhile, Selangor state assembly speaker Hannah Yeoh urged a tougher stance, asking Khalid to take action against Jais officers responsible for the raid.
"Khalid Ibrahim should suspend the Jais officer who ordered raid on BSM without the state's consent. Alkitabs should be returned," she said in a Twitter posting.
MCA: Jais deliberately forgetful?
Meanwhile, MCA religious harmony bureau chief Ti Lian Ker told Jais not to aggravate matters with "limp" excuses about its forgetfulness.
He argued that the raid, involving 20 Jais officers and assisted by the police would have involved long-term planning and its "forgetfulness" would have been deliberate.
He was referring to Jais' explanation that it "forgot" to inform the Selangor government when it conducted the raid after Salehen said the state was unaware of the operation.
"Stop assuming that Malaysians, already outraged with such a heinous misdeed which only serves to fracture interfaith relations deeper, are a bunch of clueless, naive lot,” he said in a statement today.
He urged Jais to stop harassing BSM and churches, and encourage interfaith harmony and understanding instead through dialogue.
In addition, he demanded that the Selangor government instruct Jais to drop charges against BSM officers, return all confiscated bibles, and disclose what action would be taken against Jais officers who ordered the raid.
Thus far, no charges have been brought against BSM staff members following the raid, but its chairperson Lee Min Choon and his office manager Sinclair Wong are on police bail.
They were told to report to Jais on Jan 10 to assist investigations under the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988. - Malaysiakini, 4/1/2013, After Bible raid, S'gor says abide by sultan's decree
And when one would have expected PR leaders to step forward, it is Marina Mahathir and others that has acted positively...
Progressive Muslims defend church as protest loomsAmid threats of protest by Muslim pressure groups at a church in Klang this morning, progressive Muslims made a stand outside the church to defend their fellow Christian Malaysians.
Among the group was Marina Mahathir (right in photo), daughter of former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad who like some 40 others, came bearing flowers and stood outside the Our Lady of Lourdes church as mass was in session.
"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.
A conservative Muslim group dubbed Solidariti Ummah Klang had planned to protest outside the Church after Lawrence Andrew, the editor of Christian publication The Herald editor, insisted that Christians will continue to use the word Allah.However, in the face of mounting tension and criticism, they later decided to relocate their protest to a nearby field.Selangor Umno which initially said that it too will protest in front of Churches, yesterday banned its members from attending such demonstrations, citing the need to maintain harmony.Business as usualSome 900 people turned up at the Church this morning and 8am mass proceeded as usual with parish priest Michael Chua leading the mass.Lady of Loudes Church administrator EA Louis said the congregation today, which spilled outside the Church and had to sit on plastic chairs, were no more than the usual."It's like any other Sunday. We all know it is our obligation to come pray and worship. We don't feel threatened. Nothing at all," he said.He added that it was the right of any group to protest and the Church is leaving the matter to the authorities.However, he expressed concern that interfaith relations may be affected until government leaders are willing to speak up.The mass was like any other, with hymns and prayers until the very end, where Chua specifically addressed the recent controversy."A word of appreciation to the parishioners for not being cowered by what is happening and coming to mass to worship God," he said.Chua also thanked supporters from other Churches as well as the Bar Council and MPs such as Seputeh's Teresa Kok and Klang's Charles Santiago who were present."The police have contained the protesters at a stadium on the other side so we pray they will be able to demonstrate and express their grievances peacefully and hopefully not march to the Church."Father Lawrence has also taken the brunt of blame for everything, and we pray for him. May good sense prevail," he said.'Gesture of peace'Later, Chua, met with Marina and the group she was with outside the Church and personally thanked them for support and they reciprocated by handing him flowers."I think it is a wonderful gesture to have so many Muslims come in solidarity. We hope this will grow - the ability to see beyond barriers and boundaries and to open hands in friendship to each other," he said.At this, Marina replied: "It is a reciprocal gesture of peace. In Myanmar, the Archbishop of Rangoon also spoke up for the Rohingyas (Muslims). That is how it should be."The "Muslim defenders" today were part of a Facebook initiative dubbed "In the Name of Allah" which invited to Muslims to defend the Church from the planned protest.At least seven police personnel were spotted guarding the Church perimeter while another two community police members were assisting with traffic.The congregation dispersed peacefully after mass ended at around 9am. - Malaysiakini, 5/1/2014, Progressive Muslims defend church as protest looms