Malaysia

Amid planned Umno protest, cops assure Herald editor, churches of protection

Muslim protestors burn an effigy of Catholic weekly Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew during a protest over the use of the word ‘Allah’ by churches in Malaysia, in Kuala Langat today. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, January 3, 2014. Muslim protestors burn an effigy of Catholic weekly Herald editor Father Lawrence Andrew during a protest over the use of the word ‘Allah’ by churches in Malaysia, in Kuala Langat today. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Najjua Zulkefli, January 3, 2014. As a planned Umno protest looms on Sunday, police assured a senior Catholic priest at the centre of the Allah storm by providing protection and assistance to churches in the Klang area today.

Catholic weekly Herald editor Rev Father Lawrence Andrew (pic) said he met with police at the South Klang police station today at noon after it had called him for a chat at the South Klang police station. The police said they will patrol the area where the churches are.

“Three officers were there. We chatted for about 30 minutes and they gave me an assurance to the church that patrol cars will be deployed on that day to ensure the safety of the church,” he told The Malaysian Insider

Andrew said the officers only had a chat with him and did not take any statement on the current “Allah controversy”.

“They did not record any statement,” said Andrew who was accompanied by a lawyer.

Various Muslim groups have also called for action to be taken against Andrew who had said that Catholic churches in Selangor would continue to use the word Allah in their weekend services in Bahasa Malaysia, which are primarily attended by Sabah and Sarawak folk.

Andrew's comments came following a statement from the new director of Jais, Ahmad Zaharin Mohd Saad, who had said that the state religious authorities would draw up a list of Selangor churches before writing to ask them to comply with the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988.

“We will write to all the churches in Selangor to respect the law that is in force in relation to this,” he was quoted as saying.

The enactment, which was passed by the then Barisan Nasional state government, prohibits non-Muslims in Selangor from using 35 Arabic words and phrases, including “Allah”, “nabi” (prophet), “injil” (gospel) and “Insha’Allah” (God willing).

Andrew's statement caused an uproar among various non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which among others, described his action as not only challenging the sensitivities of Muslims, but also a sign of disrespect for the law.

Yesterday, a coalition of Malay-Muslim groups said  that they were going to march to the  the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes Klang church on Sunday morning to protest Christians' insistence on using Allah and to deliver a memorandum to express their dissatisfaction.

Calling itself the Klang Muslims Solidarity Secretariat, the group was the first to announce which church it would be protesting at on Sunday after Selangor Umno announced a few days ago it was planning similar demonstrations on Sunday with several pro-Umno NGOs.

Secretariat president Mohd Khairi Hussin had said yesterday that ties between Muslims and Christians had been cordial before the Church insisted on using the Arabic word Allah in their worship. – January 3, 2014.

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