by Jennifer Gomez
The Malaysian Insider
May 15, 2014
A Melanau Muslim was among several Sarawakians who lodged police reports against a religiously charged seminar organised by Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) last week, hoping that such events will not be brought to East Malaysia where the citizens have been living in harmony.
Abdul Halim Hamdian, who is self-employed, made the report at the Dalat police station last Friday and complained that the speeches made at the seminar last week had seditious tendencies.
He said that since UiTM had campuses in Sarawak and Sabah, he was concerned that these issues would spread to East Malaysia, which has historically enjoyed a high level of understanding among its people of different faiths.
“As a Muslim, my understanding is that Islam respects the rights of other faiths, as long as they do not cause provocation towards Islam in any way.
“So I felt the speakers made seditious remarks and misused the good name of Islam to create tension and fear towards other faiths, especially Christianity,” Abdul Halim wrote in his report.
Abdul Halim also said in his report that he wanted the authorities to investigate the speakers at the seminar as it could result in the oppression of other faiths, using the good name of Islam.
A pastor with a Christian non-governmental organisation (NGO), Mathew Igoh, 21, also lodged a police report at the Kuching police headquarters because he was offended by the contents of the seminar which said that Christianity was a threat.
Calling it a baseless allegation, Mathew told The Malaysian Insider that his Christian friends, many of whom were studying at UiTM in Kota Samarahan in Sarawak, were also upset over the Christian-bashing that went on during the seminar.
“Even my Muslim friends told me that they are angry over what happened.
“They said that the seminar could have been used constructively to strengthen the position of Islam, without having to run down Christianity,” Mathew said in a phone interview from Kuching.
Suzie Kulleh, 41, from Kota Samarahan, also lodged a police report at the Simpang Tiga police station last week, and stated in her report that the seminar, which belittled her religion, was attended by 1,000 students including Christians from Sabah and Sarawak.
“Seditious statements were made at the seminar implying that Christianity was a deviant teaching and one of the worst religions in the world while Islam was the one true religion.
“As a Christian, I feel the speakers had degraded my religion,” she said in her report in which she urged the police to investigate the matter.
Ericsen Johnny Pising, a 31-year old technician from Bintulu, also lodged a police report last week and stated that he was personally affected by the contents of the seminar as it had insulted his religion.
At the May 6 seminar, which included speakers from Indonesia but without any authority on Christianity, the audience was told that undercover Christian priests had been sent to Malaysia under different guises, including working with Muslim children as football coaches, to proselytise and convert Muslims.
The seminar on the use of the word “Allah” and Christology also featured a discussion on “10 reasons why Christians should become Muslims” and also belittled the Bible by alleging that it contained “tales”.
Copies of books published by the Selangor Islamic Council (Mais) on the threat of Christianisation and alleged evangelism among Muslims in Malaysia were also distributed to more than 1,000 students present that day.
The book entitled “Pendedahan Agenda Kristian” warned Muslims to watch out for “tricks” by Christians to sway them from their faith.
The book also claimed that the main reason there is apostasy among Muslims is because of Christianisation.
Another book, titled “Obligation to preserve the sanctity of the name Allah”, explained why non-Muslims, in particular Christians, cannot be allowed to use the word Allah.
The seminar was jointly organised by the Academy of Contemporary Islamic Studies, UiTM, Warisan Ibnu Aaby and the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais), and supported by Utusan Malaysia, Kumpulan Karangkraf, TV Al-Hijrah, Zikay Group and Pantai Bharu Group of Companies.
Lawyer Annou Xavier had urged the police not to waste time and to investigate the reports on the seminar under under Section 298 and 298A of the Penal Code, for causing disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will on grounds of religion.
In Shah Alam, two police reports were lodged by private college lecturer Perzeus James and author Uthaya Sankar Narayanan who alleged that the seminar had vilified Christianity.
More reports are expected to be lodged in Shah Alam and Sabah over the next few days. – May 15, 2014.