10 protests held, no untoward incidents: Hisham (Update)
By STEVEN DANIEL
KUALA LUMPUR: Peaceful protests over the “Allah” issue were held at 10 mosques throughout the country after Friday prayers, without any untoward incidents, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.
He said there were four protests in Selangor, three in Kuala Lumpur, two in Pahang and one in Terengganu.
“The protests, which were confined to the compounds of the mosques, lasted between 15 and 30 minutes before the crowds dispersed peacefully.
“The crowds were well behaved and listened to instructions by police when told to disperse,” he said.
He also said no arrests were made and claimed that the shouted slogans and banners displayed by the protesters were not seditious in nature.
Hishammuddin added there was also one more protest in Cheras after Friday prayers but it was on the plight of atrocities in Gaza.
The protest over the “Allah” issue, held outside the National Mosque here after Friday prayers, saw a congregation of more than 1,500, reports ZALINAH NOORDIN.
The protest, organised by a few Muslim non-governmental organisations (NGOs) including the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim), lasted for about 30 minutes.
The crowd was heard chanting “Allahuakhbar!” (God is great) repeatedly, with some seen carrying banners condemning the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims.
The head of another Muslim NGO Arman Azahar Abu Haniffah, who spoke on a loudspeaker, insisted that the word “Allah” should only be used by Muslims and not those of other religions. “This is a sacred word and can only be used by Muslims,” he said, adding that the gathering was held to protect the sanctity and good name of Islam and not to cause tension.
Around 200 people, supported by 50 Muslim non-profit organisations, gathered at the Kampung Baru mosque to protest, reports SARAH ABDULLAH.
They carried banners while chanting “Allahuakhbar!”, “Hidup Islam!” (Islam lives) and “Kami sayang kalimah Allah” (We love the word ‘Allah’).
“The reason for this gathering was not to question the court’s decisions, but to voice out our feelings on this matter.
“We, as representatives of all Muslims, wants the non-Muslims to understand and respect our rights. The use of the word ‘Allah’ by other religions is very sensitive to us,” said Abim honorary-secretary Mohd Raimi Ab Rahim.
Jemaah Islah Malaysia (JIM) committee member Ibrahim Mohd said, “This name belongs to our Almighty. We do not want it to be used by other religions.”
Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (ISMA) committee Zaim Shaari urged everyone to respect Muslims’ sensitivities.
“Our patience has limits … don’t play with it until causes chaos in this country. We don’t want any fights with other religions,” he said.
The NGOs later headed to Dang Wangi police station to lodge a report on the High Court ruling allowing the Catholic weekly publication the Herald to use the word “Allah” for “God” in its Malay-language edition.
In SHAH ALAM, about 20 people gathered at the premises of the Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque to protest, reports WANI MUTHIAH.
There were also about 30 onlookers, largely made up of Special Branch officers.
Most of the congregation hurriedly left the mosque after Friday prayers but about 300 people waited inside for a special sermon organised by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais).
The group protesting outside was made up of members of Anak-Anak Muda Islam Selangor (Amis) as well as several people who had participated in the infamous “cow head protest” outside the state secretariat building here last year.
Also attending the sermon were controversial Port Klang assemblyman Badrul Hisham Abdullah and former Selangor exco member Datuk Mokhtar Dahlan.
Badrul Hisham said he was there in his capacity as an individual and a Muslim.
“I want to show my support for my fellow Muslims who had gathered at the mosque today,” he said.
Shah Alam Member of Parliament Khalid Samad received the brunt of the protesters’ anger and was accused by the group of “sodomising Islam.”
The protestors were initially given 10 minutes to carry out their protest but police threw in the spanner after three minutes when some of them started stomping on a poster of Khalid.
Mokhtar, who spoke to reporters after the Mais sermon, said the protest was reflective of the dissatisfaction felt by Muslims over what was happening.
“This must be taken seriously and given special attention,” he said.
Shah Alam OCPD Asst Comm Noor Azam Jamaludin said everything was easily controlled as the protesters had adhered to police instructions.
Meanwhile, Selangor mufti Datuk Mohd Tamyes Abdul Wahid said the protest was justified as Muslims had to put their foot down “in defence of their religion.”
However, Mohd Tamyes condemned those behind the arson attacks and said the culprits gave Islam a bad name.
“Muslims are not supposed to do anything that will tarnish Islam’s image and what has been done will result in Islam being condemned and criticised,” he added.
He said such attacks must not be condoned, as all Malaysians should be allowed to worship in peace and harmony without fearing for their safety.
Badrul Hisham concurred and said such violent acts should not be tolerated.
“All religions should be given equal protection as this is what Malaysia is all about.
“What these unscrupulous few have done is to create problems and unrest for peace-loving Malaysians,” said Badrul Hisham.
In BENTONG in Pahang, fewer than 50 people turned up to protest in front of the Bandar Bentong Mosque, but the two NGOs — Pertubuhan Pribumi Perkasa Malaysia (Perkasa) and Pertubuhan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (Pekida) Negeri Pahang — carried on with their protest.
Pahang Perkasa president Dr Zubir Harun said they urged the Government to amend the Federal Constitution to protect Islam, and asked for the Rulers to intervene in the “Allah” issue.