JAN 24 — Sabah churches want the government to act decisively against the latest round of anti-Christian frenzy.
“We see the increasingly provocative attacks against the Malay-language bible — Alkitab — by certain quarters as a direct attack on the rights of Bumiputera Christians in Sabah to religious freedom as enshrined in both the Sabah and the Federal Constitution,” Rev Datuk Jerry Dusing, chairman of the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship Commission of Sabah Affairs (NECF COSA) said.
“We, therefore, urge the authorities to act immediately against such groups and individuals to the full extent of the law before the anti-Christian frenzy gets out of hand,” he said in a statement.
Dusing said it must be remembered that Sabah has always enjoyed complete religious freedom since time immemorial. Sabah was guaranteed certain safeguards known as the 20-points as a condition for the formation of Malaysia. It is no coincidence that the first of these twenty points pertains to religious freedom.
He also said the majority of Christians in Malaysia are Malay speaking Bumiputeras mainly in Sabah and Sarawak whose use the Alkitab as their Bible for their liturgy and devotional reading.
As many East Malaysians are working or studying Peninsular Malaysia, the Alkitab is also extensively used by them over there. Any attack on the Alkitab is an affront to their faith and religious liberty.
“We now see our religious freedom yet again under threat as the anti-Christian frenzy threatens to get out of hand. A right wing Malay group has even called for bibles, including the Alkitab, to be seized and burned. This is irresponsible and incendiary hate speech,” said.
Although he did not name the group, he was referring to Perkasa which made the threat three days ago.
The statement also said another Muslim group (Pembela) has also called for the halt to the printing of the Alkitab. It added that indeed, it was the Cabinet itself that decided in 2011 to allow for the continued printing and distribution of the Alkitab as part of its so-called 10-point solution to the Allah controversy.
“This is another attempt to deprive Bumiputera Christians of their Holy Scriptures,” the statement said.
NECF COSA also highlighted the call for a ban on the distribution of the Alkitab in public universities and said it must be remembered there are many Bumiputera Christians from East Malaysia studying and teaching in such universities.
“They use the Alkitab as their personal Bibles. This Alkitab ban only serves to deprive Bumiputera Christians their right to their Holy Scriptures. This very right is fundamental to religious freedom,” it said.
The statement said if such unwarranted provocation against Bumiputera Christians are left unchecked it militates against the very concept of 1 Malaysia of putting people first.
“It is time for such promises to be fulfilled. Otherwise, we may to turn out to be a nation divided by religious hatred perpetrated by irresponsible elements. There is no place for such extremists in our beloved homeland,” it added. — mysinchew.com
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.