Anti-Islam clip condemned by churches and interfaith group
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — The anti-Islam video clip “Innocence of Muslims” that mocks the Prophet Muhammad has received strong condemnation from the Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) and the interfaith group Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST).
Rev Thomas Philips, vice-president of MCCBCHST, opposed the video clip that was made in the US, saying: “We are very clear we don’t accept this.”
“In America there is the freedom of expression but it should not be used to abuse, insult or incite others. This is an individual action that is very insensitive to another religion and needs to be condemned.
“I don’t think anybody has a right to hurt anybody’s feelings,” Philips said. “We need to respect every culture and religion and not to offend anybody.”
He did not view the incident as affecting the relationships of the multi-faith community in Malaysia.
“In Malaysia we have learned to live in harmony with one another... recognise each others’ beliefs,” he said.
Rev Hermen Shastri, secretary-general of Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM), denounced the video which he described as the “work of irresponsible individuals” that should not “be taken seriously.”
“The Council of Churches denounces anyone who seeks to derogate the religions of others and most especially to do it with the intent of causing spiritual hurt to believers of the religion.”
But he said that “to respond through violent demonstrations is to play into the hands of those seeking to upset the good relations between religions.”
The video has sparked worldwide protests, including one in Libya where the US ambassador and three other Americans were killed last week.
“The CCM regrets that lives have been lost and property destroyed as a result of this episode. When this happens the only victors are the extremists,” Shastri said.
“In a country like ours we reject those who seek to denigrate others and also reject a violent response to such people.”
Shastri also said that Malaysians “do not allow such irresponsible elements to derail the good relations we experience between faith communities.”
“We should offer proper teachings of our religions within our fold and not worry about the crazy accusations made by those who hold extremists views and use the Internet... with the intent to destroy good relations between faith communities.
“Another lesson to learn is to be aware of how the media seeks to play up inter-religious issues by offering a voice to extremist elements who only speak for themselves and do not represent the official views of the faith community,” he added.
Umno Youth will stage a protest tomorrow, and PAS has also protested against the video clip.
The crudely made 13-minute English-language film was shot in California and circulated on the Internet under several titles including “Innocence of Muslims”.
Clips of the film posted on the Internet since July have been attributed to a man by the name of Sam Bacile, which two people linked to the film have said was likely an alias.
For many Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is blasphemous. Caricatures deemed insulting in the past have provoked protests and drawn condemnations from officials, preachers, ordinary Muslims and many Christians.
Reuters news agency has reported that a California man convicted of bank fraud was taken in for questioning on Saturday by officers investigating possible probation violations stemming from the making of the video clip.
Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, voluntarily left his home in the early hours of Saturday morning for the meeting at a sheriff’s station in the Los Angeles suburb of Cerritos.
Nakoula, who has denied involvement in the film in a phone call to his Coptic Christian bishop, was ushered out of his home and into a waiting car by several sheriff’s deputies, his face shielded by a scarf, hat and sunglasses.