Archive for category Religion

‘Allah’ struggle not over, moderate Muslims should lend support, says UN official

by Jennifer Gomez
The Malaysian Insider
6 July 2014

The struggle for the right of non-Muslims to use the word Allah in Malaysia is not over, a United Nations official said, suggesting that moderate Muslims and intellectuals get on board to lend weight to the church’s fight.

UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and belief, Heiner Bielefeldt, said many Muslims believe the court ruling undermines the credibility of Islam.

“A vast majority of Muslims will agree that it undermines Islam by turning Allah into a personal name of the Islamic God,” he said in a phone interview from Germany.

Muslim scholars and clerics, both locally and worldwide, have criticised the ban, pointing out that the word predates Islam and it meant “God” in Arabic.

Former Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin, known to supporters as the “voice of reason” and to critics as a “promoter of liberalism”, was one of those who had criticised the ban. Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Allah’ ruling makes ‘criminals’ of Bumiputera Christians, says Sarawak group

The Malay Mail Online
June 27, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — Bumiputera Christians have become “instant criminals” after the Federal Court ruled to uphold a lower court decision against allowing the Catholic Church the use of the word “Allah” for God, the Sarawak Ministers’ Fellowship (SMF) said.

The umbrella group representing evangelical missions in the state noted that the bulk of Bumiputera Christians were from East Malaysia where the bibles in their native tongues or in the national language contained “Allah”, but adding that thousands of Sarawakian Christians worked or studied in the peninsula where their word for God was now barred to them.

“Are they to become instant criminals the day they start reading their bibles in their mother tongue?” the group’s chairman, Rev Daron Tan said in a statement.

Tan claimed that Bumiputera Christians in Sarawak had been referring to God as “Allah Taala” for the past 150 years, a situation that is now untenable due to the apex court’s decision on Monday.

He noted that the Federal Court ruling on Monday “had made criminals of Malaysian Christians when they pray and address God as ‘Allah Taala.’” Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia Mais chief shows up an effete Putrajaya in Bible issue

25 June 2014

Thank you, Datuk Mohamed Adzib Mohd Isa. Thank you for confirming what commentators and lawyers have been saying since the Federal Court decided not to give leave to the Catholic Church to appeal to the apex court to overturn an order stopping it from using the word Allah in its weekly newspaper.

A few hours after the court decision, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement saying that the court decision would only impact the Catholic Herald.

At the same time, Putrajaya assured Christians that they could use Allah in their worship services and proudly proclaimed that the infamous 10-point solution put together in April 2011, just before the last Sarawak elections, was still in place.

Among other things, the 10-pointer allows the import of Malay-language bibles. Read the rest of this entry »

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The difference between compromise and cowardice

Erna Mahyuni
The Malay Mail Online
June 25, 2014

JUNE 25 — Let the Allah issue rest, someone said to me. “In the end, when we stand before Him, none of this will matter.”

This is a very Malaysian way of looking at things. Don’t talk about this — too sensitive. Don’t stage a play or make a film about that — too incendiary.

We step on eggshells all the time, trying not to anger that person or this person.

But let us be frank here; there only seems to be one race we seem to be very afraid of offending while there seems to be no problem kicking around cow heads or throwing Molotov cocktails at churches.

We cannot keep sweeping things under the carpet in fear of civil unrest. We cannot keep banning books and films and telling minority religions to stop “threatening” the majority faith. Read the rest of this entry »

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DAP wants Jamil Khir referred to rights and privileges committee over Islamic state claim

by Elizabeth Zachariah
The Malaysian Insider
17 June 2014

DAP wants Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom to be referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee for his claim in Parliament yesterday that Malaysia was not a secular state.

Oscar Ling Chai Yew (DAP-Sibu) filed a motion under Standing Order 36(12) to refer Jamil to the committee for allegedly confusing the House.

Speaking to reporters later, Ling said Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia has agreed to call Jamil Khir for an explanation.

In his written reply to Ling, Jamil said the formation of Malaysia was based on the Islamic administration of the Malay sultanates and that the Malay sultans were heads of Islam in their respective states.

“This was reinforced by Article 3 of the Federal Constitution which places Islam as the religion of the federation, though other religions can be practised peacefully anywhere within the federation,” he said in the reply.

DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, who was also present today, said the first three prime ministers – Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Abdul Razak and Tun Hussein Onn – would have been “horrified” with Jamil’s answer.

“They would have been completely horrified by the answer as it is completely against their understanding of the foundation of the country. Read the rest of this entry »

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A generation of Malaysians have lost their trust in Putrajaya, says Anglican bishop

by Jennifer Gomez
The Malaysian Insider
10 June 2014

Malaysia is “losing a generation” that no longer trusts the government, authorities and even each other, given the current trend of religious extremism, says Anglican Bishop Datuk Ng Moon Hing.

Ng, the newly minted president of the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM), said his greatest fear for Malaysia is a societal break-up due to hate speeches, racial hatred and religious extremism that is not being monitored.

“This nation has begun to lose a generation of people who no longer trust the government, the authorities, the elders, the religious leaders, and more so each other,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Ng said trust and confidence in Putrajaya have plunged to its lowest level with unresolved issues affecting Malaysia’s multi-religious society, including the seizure of Bibles and the controversy over the use of the word “Allah” by Christians. Read the rest of this entry »

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Najib should set up a Cabinet committee comprising Home Ministry, NRD and the various state Islamic authorities to provide speedy resolution and rescue from limbo a few hundred cases of Malaysians who were mistakenly registered as Muslims in b/c or i/c

The Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim should give his personal attention to ensure that the Selangor Islamic Department (Jais), which disrupted the Hindu wedding ceremony of factory worker Zarinah Abdul Majid, 32, at a Shah Alam temple on Sunday, make recompense by assisting Zarinah to change her religious status in her identity card as she had been a practising Hindu all her life.

Khalid should ask Jais to give him a weekly report until Zarinah’s problem had been resolved and succeeded in changing to her true religious status.

Jais’ high-handed, arrogant and insensitive action on Sunday in disrupting Zarinah’s wedding ceremony at the Hindu temple in Shah Alam is a “no-no” which shows no respect for other religions in the country and bring disrepute to Malaysia internationally and must never be repeated.
Jais can investigate into complaints but it must never be done in a manner which violates or trespasses the sanctity of other religions and brings ill-repute to Malaysia’s international reputation.

Moderate and right-thinking Malaysians, both Muslims and non-Muslims, are outraged by the high-handed action by Jais, with the Selangor Mentri Besar describing it as an “embarrassment” while the former Perlis mufti Datuk Dr. Mohd Asri Zainual Abidin has likened it as akin to “Talibanisation”.

The most recent Jais action is undoubtedly a most negative and destructive development which not only undermines inter-religious harmony and relations in plural Malaysia but stains the country’s international reputation as a model multi-religious nation. Read the rest of this entry »

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Hindu group to sue NRD for ignoring bride’s plea on religious status

by Pathma Subramaniam
The Malay Mail Online
June 5, 2014

Kuala Lumpur June 5 — The Malaysia Hindu Sangam, the country’s main advisory body on Hindu worship, said it plans to sue the National Registration Department (NRD) for refusing to change the state religion of Zarinah Abdul Majid, the woman at the centre of the latest row over faith conversions here.

Its president, Datuk R. S. Mohan Shan, said as a public institution, the NRD is obliged to at least investigate the religious background of Zarinah, who alleged that she was unilaterally converted to Islam by her estranged father as a child.

He said the government department should not have delegated its duties to the religious authorities.

“We are looking for lawyers to help us seek legal recourse because they have denied her the right to explain why she wants to leave Islam,” Mohan Shan told The Malay Mail Online.

He said the NRD rejected Zarinah’s first application to switch her religious status in 2007 because she failed to obtain her father’s signature.

In her second attempt, made just months ago, Zarinah’s application was completely ignored, he added.

“If they leave it to the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) or the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) to investigate, surely she will not be able to get a favourable response,” said Mohan Shan. Read the rest of this entry »

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Jais acting like Taliban, says ex-Perlis mufti Asri

The Malaysian Insider
5 June 2014

The Selangor Islamic authorities’ action to disrupt a Hindu wedding on suspicion that the bride was a Muslim is akin to “Talibanisation”, says well-known scholar and former Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin.

Asri rebuked the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) for raiding a Hindu temple in Petaling Jaya where the wedding was conducted, warning that the Islamic authority that it had, by its action, tarnished the image of Islam.

“Jais should be careful in what they do because their actions have given the wrong image not only to Malaysians, but to the world.

“Day by day, the global community is seeing much of the world leaning towards ‘Talibanisation’ because of such actions,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

Asri said Jais was naive in its handling of the incident, which would have given rise to all kinds of misunderstandings among Malaysians. Read the rest of this entry »

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Muslim woman who married a Hindu refuses to back down

by V. Anbalagan, Assistant News Editor
The Malaysian Insider
4 June 2014

For the last seven years, Zarinah Abdul Majid had been making frequent trips to the Shariah Court and the National Registration Department (NRD) hoping to remove the word “Islam” from her identity card, as she is not a practising Muslim.

She said she spent thousands of ringgit hiring lawyers to help but it was all in vain.

Zarinah then took a bold step – she decided she was going to marry the man of her dreams, a Hindu – and that too, in a temple on Sunday.

“I was not afraid any more. I was fed up and could not wait any longer. I am getting old and I want a family of my own,” she told The Malaysian Insider, speaking in Tamil.

On Sunday, the 32-year-old factory worker had the “thali” tied around the neck by her boyfriend of seven years, in a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony in a temple in Petaling Jaya.

She had invited 400 guests and spent more than RM30,000 on the ceremony and the reception that followed. Read the rest of this entry »

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Selangor MB Khalid gives assurance there will be no repetition of Jais disruption of Hindu wedding

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has given assurance that there will be no repetition of Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) disruption of a Hindu wedding, as happened on Sunday when Jais took away a bride from a Hindu wedding ceremony at a temple in Shah Alam on suspicion that she is a Muslim.

I met Khalid earlier today to express the outrage of moderate Malaysians, whether Muslims or non-Muslims, at Jais’ high-handed and unacceptable raid on Sunday, which tantamount to disrespect and interference with the affairs of other religions in the country.
Jais was acting in a most insensitive and offensive manner when it stopped the Hindu wedding ceremony after it received a tip-off that the 32-year-old bride named Zarena Abdul Majid is a Muslim.

It is now established that Zarena was born and raised as a Hindu but her name was registered by her estranged father who had converted to Islam. Read the rest of this entry »

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Don’t bring your religious forums to East Malaysia, Sarawakian Muslim tells UiTM

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. Read the rest of this entry »

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Alumni: Seminar soiled alma mater’s reputation

May 8, 2014

The organisers of a controversial seminar at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) have discredited the institution which is dedicated to educating underprivileged Malays since 1956.

Dyana Yusoff (left), an UiTM alumni, said the seminar which allowed Indonesian Muslim scholars to demonise Christianity before students was not only anti-unity but also alienated UiTM’s Christian staff and students.

“This incident discredits my alma mater and I, along with many of my UiTM brothers and sisters, are definitely not happy with it.

“UiTM should have organised an inter-faith seminar highlighting shared basic principles across religions to show how our differences are superficial and our similarities are deep, encouraging understanding among different religions and strengthen unity and togetherness,” she added. Read the rest of this entry »

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PAS MP slams UiTM event attacking Christianity, challenges ‘undercover priests’ claim

by Jennifer Gomez and Desmond Davidson
The Malaysian Insider
MAY 08, 2014

A PAS lawmaker has slammed a public university over a religiously-charged seminar which attacked Christianity, and challenged a claim that Christian priests were masquerading as football coaches to proselytise to Muslims.

Parit Buntar MP Datuk Dr Mujahid Yusuf Rawa said the speakers should make a police report over the accusation, and warned that statements made at the seminar were mala fide and dangerous if they failed to back them with evidence.

“The speakers and the organisers of the seminar risk being hauled up for making accusations which could threaten inter-religious harmony in the country which was already fragile,” said Mujahid.

He urged them to provide evidence to the police, and cited Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution restricting the propagation of any faith to Muslims. Read the rest of this entry »

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Stopping those who spew hate in the name of religion

May 07, 2014

If there are any police officials still interested in being honest brokers and if the rule of law means anything anymore in Malaysia, a whole clutch of speakers at yesterday’s seminar on the Allah word and Christianity should be arrested and charged with sedition.

In some other countries, they would be charged with hate crimes because hate is what they were trying to make Malaysians do. Hate Christians and hate Malaysians of the Christian faith. Read the rest of this entry »

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Malaysia on US watch list for limitations on religious freedom

The Malaysian Insider
May 03, 2014

Malaysia has been placed on a watch list by an advisory body of the United States government over concerns about its limitation on freedom of religion, putting it on a par with countries like Afghanistan, Cuba, Indonesia, Laos, Russia and Turkey.

In its 2014 annual report, the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) placed Malaysia on Tier 2, one level down from Tier 1 (countries of particular concern) which lists countries like Myanmar, China, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Sudan, among others.

“USCIRF found that the intertwining of religion, ethnicity, and politics in Malaysia complicate religious freedom protections for religious minorities and non-Sunni Muslims,” the commission said in the report.

USCIRF is an independent US government advisory body that monitors religious freedom worldwide and makes policy recommendations to the American president, the secretary of state and Congress. Read the rest of this entry »

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Obama should rap Putrajaya’s human rights record, says lawyer in Wall Street Journal

by Eileen Ng
The Malaysian Insider
April 26, 2014

With Kuala Lumpur keen to present its best image as a moderate country during Barack Obama’s visit this weekend, a prominent lawyer has called on the US president not to be hoodwinked and instead, to rap Putrajaya’s human rights record and be aware of rising extremism.

In an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Bar Council Human Rights Committee co-chair Andrew Khoo said Obama should not buy into the fiction that Putrajaya is trying to showcase; that Malaysia is a moderate Muslim-majority democracy, a model of interracial and interreligious diversity heading for developed nation status by 2020.

The Barisan Nasional-led federal government will also try to present itself as an ally in combating arms proliferation and transnational crime, and friend of the United States in Asia, Khoo wrote.

“President Obama should not accept this fiction or defer to the Malaysian government because of regional security concerns. Instead, he would do well to note the sorry state of its human rights and call for greater respect for civil liberties.

“President Obama needs to deftly use his public appearances and statements to demonstrate concern about what is happening in Malaysia – and to say what many Malaysians fearfully cannot.

“The usual mantra of moderation can no longer conceal the escalation of extremism and repression,” Khoo wrote in the international news and business daily. Read the rest of this entry »

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Slippery slope, lawyers say of Pahang ban on holy books in hotels

by Ida Lim
The Malaysian Insider
April 25, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 ― A Pahang Islamic body’s recent decision to ban hotels from carrying books on non-Islamic religions signals another step on the path towards further erosion of Malaysia liberties, said several lawyers yesterday.

Raising alarm over the Pahang Islamic and Malay Customs Council (MUIP)’s move, the lawyers said failure to speak up now would see religious bodies steadily take on a bigger role in regulating the daily conduct of non-Muslims and Muslims.

Lawyer Eric Paulsen said the recent ban highlights a “growing Islamisation in Malaysia and growing encroachment of Islamic authorities in the day-to-day lives of all Malaysians, whether Muslims or non-Muslims”.

“There is now a growing acceptance that this is an Islamic country and that Islam must have its way over non-Muslims and Islam is sacrosanct and their policies must trump all other people’s rights,” the co-founder of civil rights group Lawyers For Liberty (LFL) told The Malay Mail Online.

He agreed that the move to officially ban non-Islamic religious materials from Pahang hotel rooms could lead to a slippery slope where more liberties are lost, claiming that both federal and state authorities appear to favour the Muslims’ rights taking precedence over non-Muslims’ rights.

“Where does that policy stop?” he aked.

Paulsen added that Pahang’s Control and Restriction of the Propagation of Non-Islamic Religions Enactment 1989, which MUIP relied on for the ban, was wide and arbitrary, viewing the state law as going against the Federal Constitution’s rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

Silence by the federal authorities over the state department’s move also risks being construed as tacit approval, he added. Read the rest of this entry »

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Three things we learned from: the Seremban child abduction

By Justin Ong
The Malay Mail Online
April 13, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, April 13 — On Wednesday, S. Deepa’s joy of winning custody of her two children from estranged husband Izwan Abdullah, a Muslim convert, just days earlier turned to terror when he abducted their son from her Seremban home.

But that terror must have been eclipsed by the shock of learning that the police cannot — or will not? — do anything as the man was granted custody of the children by a shariah court last year.

At first glance, the matter had appeared less tangled than the convoluted custody battles that usually accompany child conversion cases, but it soon transpired that such matters inexorably become complicated when religion is involved.

Here are the three things we have learned from the case so far. Read the rest of this entry »

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Khalid Abu Bakar should step down as IGP if he is not prepared to uphold the law in the Seremban child abduction case and enforce High Court order giving custody to the mother

Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar should step down as Inspector-General of Police if he is not prepared to uphold the law in the Seremban child abduction case and enforce the High Court order giving custody to the mother.

The failure and refusal of the Inspector-General of Police to uphold the law and to ignore the Seremban child abduction case is the height of irresponsibility for the top policeman in the country, despite the fact that a police report has been lodged by the mother S Deepa that her son was snatched by her estranged Muslim convert husband although she had won a custody through the civil court.

It is reported that her husband Izwan Abdullah has also obtained a similar order from the Syariah Court.

I agree with the former de facto law minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz that the IGP was mistaken in thinking syariah law allowed a Muslim convert to abduct his child after losing custody to the mother and that the father was clearly wrong to have taken his son without his estranged wife’s permission as the High Court has given her custody of their two children. Read the rest of this entry »

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