The Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) president said Ibrahim should re-examine his approach in expressing his views on a sensitive religious issue.
“I hope he will reconsider his way of thinking and only issue statements that would bring good, peace and harmony to all Malaysians who have been living in unity in this country,” he said when met after a media luncheon.
Ibrahim on Thursday said Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak should ban the al-Kitab (Bible) from Malaysia in retaliation for the Christian community’s “ingratitude”.
“We have been compromising, we have given them leeway. They wanted the Malay Bible, we allowed them to have it… they were still not satisfied.
“It is better that we urge the government and the prime minister to rescind their decision to allow Malay Bibles in Malaysia,” he said during the Perkasa Selangor Conference 2013, in response to the Catholic Church’s recent announcement that it would not give up its struggle for the rights to use the Arabic word ‘Allah’ in its weekly publication, The Herald.
[VOP comment: Other sources claim that loud applause and roars of approval from the audience of about 500 of its members, followed his comment.
It has also been reported that Ibrahim resorted to name-calling, declaring DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng a “pig” for declaring that he would continue to fight for Christians’ right to use the word ‘Allah’.
He then mocked Christianity, saying that it was “a religion without a name of God.” He continued that Christianity been around for hundreds of years, yet still has no name for its God, inciting loud laughter from the audience.
“They insist on using the word ‘Allah’ because there is no other name for their God,”. He mentioned Christian leaders, pastors and the archbishop “puzzled” him.]
Pairin, when asked to comment, described the call as “full of malicious intention” and aimed at undermining the strong racial unity that has long existed in Malaysia.
“It is full with bad intention…that do not want to see Malaysia continue progressing in peace and harmony and its people always using moderation,” he said.
Previously, Pairin had also rebuked Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia president Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman for urging those who did not agree with the ban on the word ‘Allah’ in The Herald to leave Malaysia.
Such remarks were provocative, he said, and should never have been uttered in a multi-religious country like Malaysia, whose people have always been tolerant and appreciative of their differences.
Pairin also called on Christians in Malaysia, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, to remain calm and not to be swayed by certain rhetoric on the matter.
Meanwhile, in his address at the function earlier, Pairin expressed hope that PBS would have closer ties and a stronger working relationship with the media in the state.
“We do not usually organise functions for our media friends but I hope there will be more events like this from now on.
“Don’t be surprised if we call for another luncheon soon. I hope this will be a new starting point for us to build a stronger relationship, for our mutual benefit and the betterment of the state, country and people,” he said.
Pairin also stressed on the importance of promoting unity and strengthening racial integration, and the vital role political parties and the media could play in those regards.
He said Malaysians, especially those in Sabah and Sarawak, are like budding flowers of many different species.
“A single flower is beautiful by itself but a bouquet of colourful flowers is always better. That’s how we Malaysians are. Let’s not allow the family spirit we have among us to be eroded by anything,” Pairin said.
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Non-Muslim children in a Malaysian primary school were forced to have lunch in the facility’s change room whilst their classmates fasted during Ramadan. Pictures of ethnic Chinese and Indian (usually Christian or Hindu) children were posted on the internet by one of the mothers, Guneswari Kelly, causing an uproar among politicians and Muslims opposed to unhygienic segregation.
On her Facebook page, Kelly Guneswari wrote that staff at the Sri Pristana School, in suburban Kuala Lumpur, told non-Muslim children to eat in the school’s bathroom and not in the canteen. “Is this fair? Can [a national school] treat [non-Muslim pupils] like this” during Ramadan?
After being informed, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin ordered an investigation into the matter, saying he would take action.
School officials have not released any statement, but Jehan Bakar, a Muslim woman lawyer and mother of two, said she was “horrified” by the segregation of non-Muslim children. Our “religion does not dictate this,” she insisted.
In fact Islam does not ask non-Muslims to fast or hide, but in many Islamic countries, Christians, Hindus or people of other religions are asked (and sometimes forced) not to eat in public or are not allow to eat at all during the fasting period, which runs from dawn to dusk.
In Malaysia, there are often signs of impatience towards Islamic rules that are often applied in a very restrictive way. Recently, a Chinese couple was accused of sedition for posting online a Ramadan greeting that showed them eating pork, which is forbidden in Islam.
In 2010, the principal of a secondary school in the state of Kedah accused ethnic Chinese students of being insensitive towards their Muslim classmates because they ate at school during Ramadan, telling them to “return to China” if they could not respect the culture of other ethnic groups.
In Malaysia, the tone of the anti-Christian campaign has become shriller. One of the new government’s first moves was to amend the Administration of Islamic Law so that consent from only one parent or guardian was required for a child to be converted to Islam. It drew flak from an array of rights groups, lawyers and politicians, and surprised by the fierce reaction, the bill was withdrawn earlier this month.
Yet it is not over yet. Some see it as an attempt by the government to shore up its conservative Muslim voter base, while others say it is a sign of the continuing Islamization of Malaysia. Other examples abound: the barely veiled threats against the papal nuncio Archbishop Joseph Marino, who has defended the rights of Malaysian Christians to use Allah as the word for God in the Malay language, are cause for concern.
“If he does not retract his statement in seven days, we will have….to ask the prime minister…to close the Vatican office and ask that the ambassador be sent back to the Vatican,” said the radical Malay-Muslim supremacy organizations, Peraksa and Jati. Their accusations of an attempted ‘Christianisation’ of Malaysia signals rising tensions between the country’s disparate religious groups.
Around 60 percent of Malaysia’s population considers themselves to be Muslim; just over nine percent are Christian. Conflict between the two groups has been on the rise for several years, since the government in 2009 lifted a ban on the use of “Allah” as a translation for “God” in Malay-language Bibles. The ruling was followed by a series of attacks on Christian worship sites.
And last year, as the country prepared for elections, the government was forced to ditch the name of a seminar on “the threat of Christianity” after it was accused of attempting to stoke anti-Christian sentiment in a bid to win the Muslim vote.
While the debacle over the use of “Allah” can be seen as an issue of dissent between Muslims and Christians, the attempted conversion ruling would have affected all religious minorities in Malaysia. The big question is: what religion should children adhere to if ones parent leaves his or her religion to convert to Islam? There have been several cases in the past few years, where a father – in most cases a Hindu – converted to Islam and subsequently converted the children without having sought the mother’s consent.
The government claims the sole purpose of the bill was to rectify the lack of a legal provision for child conversions at the federal level. However, by attempting to legalize the right of the converted parent to convert the kids to his or her new religion, the government abandoned a cabinet decision made in April 2009. Back then the government agreed that minors were to be bound by the common religion of their parents while they were married, even if one parent later becomes a Muslim.
The prominent Bishop Tan had called the bill underway in Malaysia,
“morally and ethically wrong,” unconstitutional, and proof of the “galloping Islamization”
Many protested the ruling, from Chinese and Indian component parties of the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional, to the Malaysian Bar, to cabinet members and various rights groups.
“It is not fair to say that one parent can determine a child’s religion if the parent decides to convert to Islam…. As a lawyer and a Muslim, I am not comfortable with the situation,” Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had told the Malaysian daily, The Star.
The government has withdrawn the bill, yet more recently made Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies compulsory for local students in private universities. With Chinese Buddhist organizations condemning the move as an “attempt at indoctrination,” it appears this conflict will continue well into the future.
Michael Lenz, Kuala Lumpur
Why is the West so shamefully silent in the face of the onslaught against Christian peoples and communities throughout the Islamic realm?
If the reasons for this are not understood – and if the silence continues – we are almost sure to witness bloody religious/ethnic “cleansings,” if not actual genocides.
The Syrian Christians in Damascus, whose church has just been bombed by anti-Bashar al-Assad rebels, know their community will be wiped out if Assad is toppled. The Christian Copts in Egypt can see what the Salafists have in store for them as the Muslim Brotherhood assumes more and more control. The Copts’ daughters are already being raped, their priests beaten, their churches set aflame. From Nigeria to Malaysia, from Pakistan to Iraq, from Uzbekistan to Tanzania, Christians are arrested, harassed and threatened. Murder is in the air.
Some in the West see what is coming. The Middle East Forum recently launched a monthly update on Christian persecution in Islamic lands. Last year, Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a “genocide warning” concerning the endangered non-Muslim minorities (mostly Christians) in North Africa and the broader Islamic Middle East. John Eibner, President of CSI’s USA branch, asked President Barack Obama to speak out on behalf of the endangered Christians.
Obama has not spoken out. But neither have the “human rights” community and other “caring and compassionate” people who endlessly talk about social justice. And sadly, neither have Christian pastors and priests. Why are both the left and the Christians abandoning these people to their fate? I can see 10 reasons.
The left’s silence
1. Crime by non-Westerners distracts from the left’s message.
For many Western progressives, guilt over past Western crimes of colonialism and slavery narrows their focus to horrors committed by Westerners. This enables them to cast themselves as “the good whites” and be exonerated of Western sin. Apartheid committed by South African whites moved them greatly; to protest Arab/Muslim attacks on Christians, today would distract from their message and blunt their purpose.
2. Christians cannot be seen as victims.
Many progressives perseverate on the notion that Christian missionaries were an arm of Western colonialists, and tricked Asian and African natives with religious mumbo jumbo. Also uppermost in their minds: Christians allowed – and Christian teachings abetted – Hitler’s genocide of Europe’s Jews. The progressives’ history, however, omits centuries of Islamic conquest (by the sword, not the work of missionaries), slaughter, and enslavement of pagans and subjugation of Jewish and Christian communities – which, by the way, preceded Islam in Egypt and of course Israel. Few progressives ever understood that “the tragedy of Sudan” was a murderous anti-Christian (and anti-tribalist) jihad.
3. Pointing to crimes by one’s adversaries hinders “peace.”
Apart from their incomplete and biased view of history, progressives have a PC/therapeutic view of peacemaking: Discussion of Islamist human-rights crimes is barred as “unhelpful” at best and “racist” at worst. To make peace, their theory goes, we must appease and not offend “the other,” and we must think of our adversaries as no different from ourselves. One should not describe cultures that wish only to dominate, encourage men to rape, and force others to reject their own religious faiths. In other words, progressives would object to reporting on what is happening to the Christians in the Muslim world.
4. Many progressives see themselves in a culture war with Christians.
Many progressives may not wish to help persecuted Christians in the Middle East and in Asia because they are at war with Western Christians here over such things as gay marriage, women’s clergy inequality, and abortion. Why help your “enemies?”
5. Ignorance, which is sometimes willful.
For the sake of peaceful relations, the media fails to fully inform Christians about Christian suffering at the hands of Muslim radicals. Christian pastors, some of whom have been told by their Muslim “dialogue partners” that any such talk threatens to harm interfaith harmony here, opt for a similar silence. The Diocese of Worcester recently cancelled a talk on Christian persecution by renowned scholar Robert Spencer of JihadWatch.org for precisely that reason.
6. Fear of doing further harm.
The Christian communities in the Islamic realm are effectively hostages. Popes and preachers have known for centuries that Western agitation for Christian rights under – and protection from – their Muslim overlords pose threats to the very lives of the people they wish to help.
7. Christians are not a “people.”
Christians here don’t identify with other practitioners of their faith as “family” – in the way, for example, that Jews do. Recently, Christian students at Gordon College, a Christian school in Wenham, Massachusetts, explained to me that unlike the Jews who mobilized throughout all their communities when one Jew – Gilad Shallit – was kidnapped, Christians are not “a family like the Jews who all come from Abraham and who carry his blood.” (I suggested that the global jihad might cure them of this viewpoint – that their fate was tied now to all Christians.)
8. Few available victims as spokespeople.
When the American Anti-Slavery Group organized mass American support for freeing the slaves of Sudan, our effort was helped immeasurably by escaped slaves who told their personal stories eloquently in English at American churches, synagogues and on campuses. Without such powerful voices here, awakening and mobilizing the Christians – and all Americans – will be much more difficult.
9. Christians cut off from their history.
In the American psyche, as Henry Ford suggested, “history is bunk.” Among American Christians there is not much interest in keeping foreign, ancient Christian communities alive, even the cradles of Christian civilization. In Bethlehem, Christians are disappearing at an alarming rate due to Arab/Islamist pressure, with no audible protest in the West.
10. Christian Zionists are otherwise occupied.
Christian Zionists know more than most about Christian suffering under the Islamists. But, strange as it may seem to us Jews, they are motivated overwhelmingly by the duty they feel toward the Jewish people. They have not been convinced that mobilizing here for their own Christian brethren in the Middle East would do more for Israel (I believe it just might) than continuing to “just” be the amazing Zionists they are.
Eibner put it this way in his letter to President Obama: “At the Holocaust Museum, Mr. President, you repeated a truth of which American policymakers must never lose sight: “Preventing mass atrocities and genocide is a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States of America.”
Americans of all political stripes and religious denominations need to remind ourselves of whom we are – and ask ourselves whom we would be if we leave the Christians to what so clearly seems a terrible, terrible fate.