Malaysia

Inter-faith group says Jais raid an attempt to create religious strife

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 9 — A non-Muslim inter-faith group said last week’s raid on a church dinner was part of a “systematic and deliberate attempt by many of those who walk the national corridors of power” to create conflict among the different races and religions in Malaysia.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) also urged the federal government to investigate the fiasco including reports by Umno-linked Berita Harian and Harian Metro that “Muslims questioned that night confirmed that they had been asked to convert.”

The MCCBCHST said the Jais raid on the DUMC (picture) ‘sets a dangerous precedent and makes a mockery of the sanctity and inviolability of all religious places.’ — File picThe MCCBCHST said the Jais raid on the DUMC (picture) ‘sets a dangerous precedent and makes a mockery of the sanctity and inviolability of all religious places.’ — File pic“These reports... did not identify the claimants nor state the basis for their making such statements. Such witnesses must be made available to an independent inquiry, which must be instituted immediately... to corroborate such evidence and to verify it.

“If the newspapers in question are found to have published false statements likely, or meant, to incite religious or racial hatred between Malaysians, the authorities must initiate the necessary action to punish them to the full extent provided for in our laws,” it said.

In a statement last night, the group also said that the raid by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) over alleged proselytising of Muslims “sets a dangerous precedent and makes a mockery of the sanctity and inviolability of all religious places.”

It listed various other incidences this year where other communities were made to be at odds with the Malay-Muslim majority, beginning from the use of the word “pariah” to describe Indians in the “Interlok” novel used in schools.

It said these “insidious efforts” — including the seizure of Malay-language bibles, unproven allegations of attempting to establish a Christian state and profiling of Bersih leaders as traitors attempting to “wage war against the Agong” — threatened the peace and harmony earned over half a century since independence.

Jais had raided the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) at the Dream Centre in Petaling Jaya last Wednesday during a charity fundraising dinner that saw the attendance of 12 Muslims.

The agency was purportedly acting on a complaint that Muslims were spotted among those at the dinner, and was said to have found proof later that Christians were attempting to convert them during the function.

The raid had caused an uproar among religious communities, and the Selangor government under Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has since demanded a report from Jais to explain the raid.

Selangor executive councillor Datuk Dr Hasan Ali later defended the raid by claiming that the words “pray” and “Quran” were used in the presence of the dozen Muslims among the 100 attendees of the dinner.

But the MCCBCHST said today it was “astonished how the words “Quran” and “pray” can amount to proselytising towards Muslims when they are used every day by Malaysians when conversing with each other.”

The group also called on leaders of all faiths to pray every Friday for the next month leading up to Malaysia Day on September 16 “that the leaders of our nation have it in their hearts and minds to... justly govern” in accordance with the Federal Constitution.

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