Gerakan has demanded Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim clear the air following the seizure of bibles by the state’s Islamic Religious Department (Jais) today.
Youth chief Tan Keng Liang said the raid and seizure of over 300 copies of the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia and Iban from the Bible Society of Malaysia's (BSM) premises in Damansara Kim, Selangor, this afternoon would cause anxiety and uneasiness among Christians in the country.
“The Menteri Besar of Selangor must provide his explanation without any further delay. Such a move is against what has been preached by Pakatan Rakyat leaders,” he said in referring to the detention of 35,000 AlKitab Bibles by the Home ministry in 2011 which had riled up many quarters, including politicians from Pakatan Rakyat.
“The opposition were against the seizure. Now, they allowed this to happen,” he said.
He said the ignorance displayed by the state exco in charge of Islamic Affairs, Sallehen Muklhyi, over the raid is unacceptable, noting that it looked as though something had gone wrong with the chain of command.
“One of the roles and functions of the exco is to look after Jais. He does not even know about this. It looks like he makan gaji buta,” he said, adding that the Selangor government's massive pay hike kicked in yesterday.
The raid came following a statement from the new director of Jais, Ahmad Zaharin Mohd Saad, who had said that the state religious authorities would draw up a list of Selangor churches before writing to ask them to comply with the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988.
“We will write to all the churches in Selangor to respect the law that is in force in relation to this,” he was quoted as saying.
The enactment, which was passed by the then Barisan Nasional state government, prohibits non-Muslims in Selangor from using 35 Arabic words and phrases, including “Allah”, “Nabi” (prophet), “Injil” (gospel) and “Insya'Allah” (God willing).
The tussle over the word Allah hit the headlines in 2008 when the Herald was barred by the Home Ministry from using the Arabic word.
The Catholic church had contested the directive in court and won a High Court decision in 2009 upholding its constitutional right to use the word.
Putrajaya appealed the decision and successfully overturned it when the Court of Appeal ruled last October that "Allah was not integral to the Christian faith".
Christians form about 9% of Malaysia's 29 million population. Almost two-thirds of the Christians in Malaysia are Bumiputera and are largely based in Sabah and Sarawak, where they routinely use Bahasa Malaysia and indigenous languages in their religious practices, including naming God as Allah in their prayers and holy book.
Besides the Bumiputera Christians from East Malaysia, some of whom have moved to the peninsula to live and work, Orang Asli Christians in the peninsula also typically use Bahasa Malaysia in their worship. - December 2, 2014.