KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have demanded Putrajaya explain this weekend’s “anti-Christianisation” seminar in Johor, which their de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim labelled today “a disgusting political manoeuvre”.
The leaders, when questioned during a press conference in Parliament this afternoon, agreed the event was a dangerous move that could add further tension to the country’s religious ties.
“What I can confirm is that this is nothing other than a disgusting political manoeuvre to use religion to frighten the people,” Anwar said.
The opposition leader was quick to link the matter to Umno, saying it was often leaders from the country’s ruling party who had a penchant for using religion to capture Malay support.
But Anwar added that if the alleged threat of Christianisation is real, those claiming to know of such incidences should furnish proof instead of instigating fear and anger among Muslims.
“Is it true there is a massive effort to Christianise Muslims as alleged by some quarters?” he asked.
“If there is any proof of such efforts, of Christian priests infringing the laws?”
Religious teachers from national schools in Johor will attend an officially-sanctioned seminar this Saturday focussing on the “threat of Christianisation”, which has sparked outrage among Christians.
Organised by the Johor Education Department and the Johor Mufti Department, the seminar themed “Pemantapan Aqidah, Bahaya Liberalisme dan Pluralism Serta Ancaman Kristianisasi Terhadap Umat Islam. Apa Peranan Guru?” (Strengthening the Faith, the Dangers of Liberalism and Pluralism and the Threat of Christianity towards Muslims. What is the Role of Teachers?) requires the attendance of two religious teachers from each of the 55 national schools across Johor.
“This is mere propaganda by Umno to strengthen the party and frighten the Malays... as though there is a massive Christian movement.
“But I’d like to remind here that the one in power in Malaysia is Umno — power over religion, over money — it is Umno... so if these allegations (of Christianisation) are true, that means Umno has failed to protect the Islamic faith,” Anwar said.
“These are very, valid issues that we must address. But now, my position is very clear: If you have specific evidence against anyone who has transgressed the law, then due action must be taken.
“But to use religion, to inculcate this culture of fear among the Malays as if they are under threat... ” he continued.
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang agreed with Anwar and demanded for Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to intervene in the matter.
Calling the seminar an “insensitive and irresponsible” event, Lim said that its organisers have also gone against the prime minister’s 1 Malaysia concept.
“To have such a programme would only lead us towards greater racial polarisation and something must be done to stop it immediately,” he said.
PAS vice-president Datuk Husam Musa said it was always his party’s stand to advise all parties against using religion for political gain.
“It is forbidden in Islam,” he said.
Christians form 9.2 per cent of Malaysia’s 28.3 million population.
In recent years, the Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in a tug of war over the word “Allah”, with Muslims arguing that its use should be exclusive to them on the grounds that Islam is monotheistic and the word “Allah” denotes the Muslim God.
Christians have argued that “Allah” is an Arabic word that has been used by those of other religious beliefs, including the Jews, in reference to God in many other parts of the world, notably in Arab nations and Indonesia.
Conservative Muslim groups have also accused Christians of attempting to convert Malays, resulting in heightened tension between followers of the two religions.