Semakin Angkuh! … Christian coalition formed amid Alkitab row

dari Malaysian Insider:

PETALING JAYA, March 26 — A coalition of Christian groups came together today to demand action against the home minister and the government over the defacement of Bahasa Malaysia bibles, escalating the religious row ahead of Sarawak elections.

The spokesman for the Coalition of Malaysian Christians, Ronnie Klassen from Sabah, said today that Christian groups planned to lodge a string of police reports in different states. He had lodged a report at the police contingent headquarters here today.

There were about 70 Christians from different denominations present today to show their support.

“I think that the minister of home affairs and the federal government should not take it upon themselves and they should not act so cruelly upon the Christians in the country by dictating to us what should be read, what should not be read, who should read, and who should not read the bible.

“We have a lot of friends of ours who are Muslims and who have read the bible. We have not heard of friends of ours who have read the bible converting themselves to become Christians,” he said.

He emphasised that non-Christians read the bible merely to understand another religion.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) had also issued a strongly worded statement yesterday accusing the government of riding roughshod over religions other than Islam when it imposed conditions for the release of 35,000 Malay bibles seized from Port Klang and Kuching.

The Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in a tug-of-war over the word “Allah”, with the latter group arguing that its use should be exclusive to them on the grounds that Islam is monotheistic and the word “Allah” denotes the Muslim God.

About one in 10 Malaysians is Christian.

The group also demanded that Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein return the Alkitab to the publisher and replace them with new ones as well as stop any further action that could be deemed as defacing the Alkitab, and that the government bear all costs and give a written assurance that such desecration will not happen again.

It also wants the home ministry to consult relevant Christian representative organisations before making any Christian-related decisions and that the 30,000 Malay bibles worth RM78,000 imported by the Sarawak branch of global Christian group, The Gideons, be unconditionally released from the Kuching port.

“The government basically has embarked on this 1 Malaysia (concept) and I think it is very important that the government be seen as wanting 1 Malaysia to be practised. This is not the manner in actually wanting to practice 1 Malaysia.

“(As for) these conditions that they have stamped on the bible ‘for Christians only’ as well as an order issued by the minister of home affairs … who gave the right to the Malaysian government or Hishammuddin to decide and dictate the bible belongs to the Christians?

“We will not stand by that. Christians basically in the country have always been very, very sensitive to the other religions in the country,” Klassen said.

He was also concerned about why the government was so worried about the influence of the bible.

“The Mufti of Selangor a couple of days ago made a statement that they are concerned that the young may be influenced by the bible because it is in Bahasa Malaysia.

“Now understanding another faith, another religion, is no crime,” he said.

Christians, have also argued that “Allah” is an Arabic word that has been used by those of other religious beliefs, including the Jews, for centuries in reference to God in many other parts of the world, notably in Arab nations and Indonesia.

The tussle is still trapped in the courts after the ministry won a stay of the 2009 High Court ruling that allowed Catholic weekly The Herald to use “Allah” in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

The ongoing bible row started in January and came to a head last week after the home ministry stamped the two separate shipments with its official seal before ordering their release.

The Christian importers have denounced the government for the act, which they say is a desecration of their holy book.

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