KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 — Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has asked the state Islamic authorities today to justify their raid on a multiracial dinner at a Petaling Jaya church last night, adding he regretted the incident that has caused a public outrage.
A group from the Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (Jais) raided the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) building during a dinner and had questioned a few Malay guests based on an unspecified complaint.
Khalid said today he had called DUMC's senior pastor Daniel Ho to personally express his regrets regarding the incident.
“I told him that the state has instructed JAIS to provide a full report detailing the incident, including their justifications for their actions that night. I hope to meet the pastor again once the report is completed,” said the Mentri Besar in a statement this evening,
He also assured the people of Selangor that the state government fully respects freedom of religion and the rights of religious groups to manage their affairs.
In the statement, Khalid sought to contain growing outrage over the incident by saying that "the state is always open to engagement and dialogue regarding the harmonious and mutually respectful coexistence of different religious communities, and appreciates the efforts of all who seek to build a more united society".
In a statement today, DUMC’s senior pastor Ho related how a group of 20 to 30 of Selangor’s religious police had entered its rented premises at the Dream Centre in Petaling Jayan without a warrant and intimidated invited guests, including Muslims, at its private dinner celebration last night.
“They have subjected all guests at the Thanksgiving Dinner to undue harassment,” he said, noting that not all the enforcement group were in uniform and had failed to produce a copy of the complaint when asked for the reason for the raid.
Ho stressed that the dinner was non-religious in nature but held to celebrate the work of non-profit organisation Harapan Komuniti in helping women, children, HIV/AIDS sufferers and victims of natural disasters.
“We call on all Malaysians not to condone this breach of freedom of assembly and association as provided by provided Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, but to live in mutual trust and love, to promote peace, harmony and unity in the true spirit of 1 Malaysia,” he said.
The pastor told The Malaysian Insider last night that the thanksgiving dinner organised by Harapan Komuniti was attended by between 100 and 120 guests of all races.
“This is a dinner for people to come in the 1 Malaysia spirit,” Ho said, adding they were mainly Christian although he admitted there were “there were about 15 or so Malays.”
Last night’s raid in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state came after Malaysia sealed formal ties with the Vatican last month, seen as a high point in religious relations where Muslims are the majority.