The Jais raid

Azrul Mohd Khalib
The Malaysian Insider
Aug 05, 2011

AUG 5 — The recent Selangor Religious Department (Jais) raid of the Harapan Komuniti event held at the Damanasara Utama Methodist Centre should be condemned by all Malaysians.

This dinner, which was organised to commemorate and honour the work of this non-profit organisation as well as its supporters and beneficiaries, is demonstrative of how we are united in a common concern and care for those living on the margins of society and who are less fortunate than us, regardless of their ethnicity and religion.

The high handed and overzealous manner in which the raid was conducted by the Jais officers over an unspecified complaint, and the disrespect shown towards the sanctity of a house of worship speaks volumes of the tendency towards the lack of respect for other religions, unaccountability and a culture of impunity.

Let us be clear: The embarrassing actions of the Jais officers appear to be the acts of a bully. It was bad enough that the so-called complaint was not substantiated, but the officers were not even able to produce a copy of the actual complaint.

Refusing or being unable to produce a warrant, especially when entering private property and religious places, is unacceptable. Just as we ask that non-Muslims should respect the sanctity of our places of worship and the practices of our religion, we as Muslims must always do the same.

It is disappointing that Selangor executive councillor Datuk Dr Hasan Ali has defended the raid by saying that 12 Muslims had participated in the dinner event on the church premises, and that this was proof of proselytising.

So what if there were Muslims at the dinner? This is proof of nothing other than they were there to show their appreciation to Harapan Komuniti, an NGO that is involved in charitable community work.

I too have attended weddings, discussions sessions and dinners several times in churches, temples and mosques. The prime minister himself met the Pope in the Vatican. Is that proselytising?

We are reminded again of the 2006 incident where the spread of unsubstantiated wild rumours through SMS concerning the supposed conversion of Muslims in Perak, resulted in 1,000 angry protestors gathering outside a church in Ipoh. It was later revealed that the church was not converting Muslims but was instead holding its Holy Communion service for 98 Catholic children.

That incident, which implicated the state Mufti, as well as the behaviour of journalists from the Al-Islam magazine who desecrated a communion wafer in 2010, were due to the same paranoia and phobia that have been used to justify this raid: The conversion of Muslims.

These incidences are eggs on the faces of moderate Malaysians regardless of whether they are Muslim or not, especially when the self righteous actions are later proven to be based on wild and unsubstantiated allegations, paranoid delusions or simply irrational fear due to ignorance. We end up looking foolish and being terrified of bogeymen.

Incidences such as these could be read as harassment, bullying, intimidation or, worse, evidence of religious tyranny or the denial of the right to religion.

There is an urgent need to increase the quality of oversight and accountability of the state religious departments.

Who are the religious authorities accountable to? Where is their check and balance? We must begin to dispel the perception that the religious authorities are a law unto themselves.

I am glad that Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has immediately expressed his regret over the incident. Indeed, the Selangor government must acknowledge that it is also responsible and take the relevant persons to task as religion is a state affair under the Federal Constitution.

There are many fears, false beliefs and misunderstandings that are born from the shallow and ignorant understanding of other religions.

The best way to begin to remedy this is to address the ignorance and make a serious effort to learn and educate each other. I suggest we start with ourselves and the Jais officers.

  1. #1 by boh-liao on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 5:49 pm

    HA n Jais officers want 2 score brownie points with lah lah, trying 2 b more UmnoB/Perkosa than UmnoB/Perkosa
    PR O PR, sure kena whack by CSL/MCA gang 1, U ask 4 it what

  2. #2 by restek on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 6:45 pm

    Brilliantly written Azrul.

  3. #3 by dcasey on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 7:11 pm

    “Who are the religious authorities accountable to? Where is their check and balance? We must begin to dispel the perception that the religious authorities are a law unto themselves.”

    When we have people in our country acting like the Gestapo (the Nazi’s secret service or terror unit), then our country is in deep trouble. The Rakyat must resist this kind of uncivil, self-shioking actions of these religious bigots at all costs. To do this, the problem must be tackled from the top, i.e. Putrajaya itself. Kick the BN out and restore sanity in this country.

  4. #4 by raven77 on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 9:10 pm

    Wow…orang complain only straightaway raid, form committee to investigate etc etc without actually finding out if complaint is legitimate…..this is Bolehland…all these Jais officers, etc have probably nothing else to do…

    The Sultan and MB should just dissolve this organisation for the greater good of Malaysia

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Friday, 5 August 2011 - 11:59 pm

    Jais behaves like special strike force or swat team/Gestapo fr above, no need warrant 1

  6. #6 by Peter on Saturday, 6 August 2011 - 12:01 pm

    There are those who are bent on pitting race against race and religion against religion. Even if there are some who evangelise, that does not mean that Christians as a whole show no respect for Islam or that there is a Christian conspiracy to Christianise Malaysia.

    We must decide as Malaysians the direction we must go as a nation. We can choose to bleed the nation dry with internecine strife. Or we can resolve as we did before, respecting one another without interfering with the way each of us practices our faith.

    Christians believe in the truths revealed in their Holy Books just as Muslims believe in the truths revealed in their Holy Books. Similarly with the others. All religions emphasise good conduct. All religions reject evil. Killing is wrong as is stealing and adultery and rape. These are values that are common to all religions.

    So we can take a positive view of all religions and move on. The problem with organisations like Jais is that they have to justify their existence.

    On another note, what is our so called “efficient and fair” PDRM doing all this while??. Many months have passed: what’s the outcome of the investigation of the alleged Christian plot in Penang to take over Islam as the official religion?

    If it is not true then charge the bloggers, Utusan Malaysia and one ex-DAP member for making false accusations to incite unrest in the country. We are still waiting for the outcome of the investigation. Don’t think that we have forgotten about it.

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