Malaysia

Perkasa ready to meet churches over bible-burning threat

By Boo Su-Lyn
January 27, 2013

Last week, Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali called on Muslims to burn Malay-language bibles. — file picLast week, Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali called on Muslims to burn Malay-language bibles. — file picKUALA LUMPUR, Jan 27 — Malay rights group Perkasa has suggested a roundtable discussion with local church leaders to explain its president’s recent threat to torch Malay-language Bibles.

The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) had called the threat “vile”, stressing that all religious scriptures are sacred books.

“Perkasa is willing to accept any church’s invitation to get an explanation,” Perkasa secretary-general Syed Hassan Syed Ali was quoted as saying today by Mingguan Malaysia, the weekend edition of Malay-language daily Utusan Malaysia.

“Perkasa is always working on building up the muhibah (goodwill) spirit between races and religions in this country. Perkasa only strongly opposes anyone who tries to challenge the sanctity of Islam and the faith of its followers,” he added.

Last week, Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali called on Muslims to burn Malay-language bibles that contain the word “Allah” and other religious Arabic script.

A priest lodged a police report on Tuesday in Penang over the distribution of anonymous pamphlets advertising a “festival” to burn the Malay language bibles at a field there today.

The Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) upset church leaders with its last Friday’s sermon that warned Muslims nationwide of “enemies of Islam” that would try to confuse them into believing that all religions are the same.

Muslim and Christian leaders here have been at loggerheads over use of the Arabic word “Allah”, with the former claiming that it refers exclusively to the Islamic God.

A church was firebombed after the High Court ruled in 2009 that Muslims did not have an exclusive right to the word “Allah”.

Debate resurfaced last month after DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who is also the Penang chief minister, called on Putrajaya to lift a ban on Malay-language Bibles in Borneo Malaysia.

A Sabah church group said last Friday that the religious freedom of Christian Bumiputeras was under attack, pointing out that most adherents of the faith in Malaysia came from East Malaysia and use the Malay language.

A Buddhist group urged today the National Unity and Integration Department, which is under the purview of the Prime Minister’s Department, to resolve the drawn-out dispute over the usage of “Allah”.