Random Links 379 on #churcharson in Malaysia

Anwar meets Christians to defuse tension

It was an important gathering.  The Lutheran Bishop Philip Lok did well as a host and later moderator of the dialogue. Now, we await for the invitation from the PM.

The dialogue, attended by about 100 members of the Christian community from various denominations, was hosted by Bishop Phillip Lok from the Lutheran Church.

Speaking to reporters before the start of the closed-door dialogue, Anwar urged the Muslims to honour the pledge made the second Islamic Caliph to defend the rights of the Christians.

He also slammed the police for not seriously protecting the places of worship.

“The Caliph Umar, who visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 638 AD, was careful to ensure that the Muslims respect the sanctity of Christian places of worship,” said Anwar, reading from a prepared statement.

“What, then, of our own police’s hesitation to offer an assurance of safety and security for Malaysian churches,” he added.

Anwar reiterated his stand that the Umno-controlled Utusan Malaysia should be made responsible for the attacks.

“Much of the blame for the recent attacks can be placed at the doorstep of the Umno-led BN ruling party,” he said.

121 NGOs join hands to condemn church attacks

Here’s the report which is linked to yesterday’s Solidarity picture.

Sivin Kit of The Micah Mandate (TMM)
I believe I can speak on the behalf of the Christians in expressing gratitude, and we are very touched by the outpouring of concern from all quarters, especially our Muslim friends.

It is a painful experience for everyone and a lot of fear has been generated in the past one day because of what had happened.

In many ways, through conversation with different people, we see that… these are not acts by people with a right mind and a right vision of the kind of society that each and everyone of us envisioned.

But I believe that we cannot stop at mere sympathy although we appreciate the compassion shown – we need to move forward with courage and resolve.

This is a time for us to redeem whatever messy situation we are in and to turn it around in an meaningful engagement, and on the ground, we know that there are people who are willing to engage, but the question is whether we can get the environment and the encouragement to do so.

Zaid Kamaruddin, president of Jamaah Islah Malaysia (JIM)
Even though you do not see many Muslim organisations on this list, I know for sure that those organisations that deal with the specific issue of ‘Allah’ would draw a red line which is not to be crossed.

The incidents that have taken place, the attempted arson, is something that has shocked the Muslim community as well.

As such, if they intended to provoke us or to polarise the society or to drive a wedge between the adherents of different religions, I think we must stand together and show them that they will not succeed.

This is a very trying moment for our community, as Malaysians, and I know that while the Muslim community quietly detest the High Court decision, there is no avenue other than to go all the way to the final stage, and we have to accept whatever decision delivered at the end of the judicial process.

Haris Mohd Ibrahim of Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia
We saw in August last year how an issue of a temple relocation in Shah Alam was turned into a Hindu-Muslim divide.

We see again in December when the High Court decides on constitutional issues – which were taken to the proper forum for determination – again turned into an issue which plainly has in its agenda the division of our people.

We advocate and push for an agenda to change the minds and the hearts of this nation to come around and see that in truth we are one people in this country.

Now, if we understand the decision of the High Court and the statements in the public space, there has been a sinister attempt to turn this into a race issue.

In reality, if we go to the ground, Malaysians by far and large get on well with each other, but the agenda of a certain quarter is being facilitated by the mainstream media, which carried a very slanted reporting of these issues.

It is the responsibility of every Malaysian, who understand that falsehood is being fed to the masses, to make an effort from our part – individually or collectively – to try to diffuse and neutralise the lies which are being told to the rakyat.

Ambiga Sreenevasan, former chairperson of Bar Council
This is, in fact, the second provocative act against religious belief or institution. We recall there were such acts of intimidation against the Bar when we tried to organise a forum to discuss issues pertaining to marriage and conversion.

What is encouraging is, in these occasions, Malaysians have risen to condemn these acts – not our politicians – and the public has not fallen for it one bit.

It is time we sent the message that we are tired of groups of people who are trying to upset the harmony of our country by exploiting what they term as sensitive issues. The minute they term them sensitive, they legitimise responses, excessive responses, giving way for people to react in any way they want.

We are not against the freedom of expression, we are not against the freedom of assembly. Yesterday, we saw people gathered at the mosques and peaceably communicated their thoughts on the court judgment.

Court judgments are not above criticism – I would like to make it clear, as some people say that it is sub-judice, which is not true, provided that you do not make personal attacks against the judge. What is not acceptable is the violence perpetrated on the churches. We are not against legitimate expression of views.

It is also not acceptable to put the judiciary in fear of physical violence or outbreak of violence as a result of their decisions. My concern now is that, I hope, the judiciary can decided this case without fear or regard to any intimidation. That is how it must be.

Torched churches … reaping what is sown

My first impression was . Is the first paragraph a threat?

Churches are now being torched, four at last count. I believe more churches will be torched, stoned, graffitied, sullied, picketed, etc, for as long as the use of the word “Allah” by the Catholic church issue is not resolved to the satisfaction of Muslims in this country.

Mea Culpa

Hard hitting piece not just towards the outside, but more precisely back to us on the inside!

when we take no interest in the affairs of our country, in our countrymen; when we remain mute and paralyzed in the face of injustice and manifestation of evil; when we fold our arms and pretend helplessness; when we devote our life to the temple of entertainment and self-indulgence; we are responsible.

We are responsible because we let them into our lives and letting them govern us. We are responsible when we vote them in or couldn’t be bothered to vote them out. As much as our present leaders are to blame on a political, societal and operational level, we are equally blameworthy on a spiritual and morally culpable level. The truth is we, as citizens, have failed ourselves and our country as surely as we have appointed leaders destined to disappoint and fail us and our country; men like the Prime Minister and the Home Minister.

Church attacks prompt conciliatory moves

Reconciliation is the way to go, but of course, based on the South African model it’s Truth and Reconciliation.

Political analyst Mohd Agus Yusoff of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia believes that Malaysian Muslims are by and large a moderate lot.

In that context, the church attacks should be seen as isolated cases, he said.

He added that some good could come out of the fire bombings if the shock of the violence served to focus minds and efforts on forging better ties between races and religions.

Law lecturer Azmi Sharom, who is pro-opposition, believes that more could be done.

Like Dr Ooi, he hopes to see a greater response from the silent majority of moderate Muslims.

The way forward

Such wisdom is needed for times like this. Now with some determination to move this forward would be even better!

And in spite of the inflammatory rhetoric at the protests after Friday prayers this week, it is clear we all want a peaceful resolution to the present strife. In Shah Alam, one speaker at a rally urged listeners to “bakar gereja” – and met with stunned silence from the protesters. Nobody wants violence – nobody but a few thugs.

We cannot let these thugs shake our faith in the natural process of coming to an understanding. Now, more than ever, is a chance for us to come together and say no to those who want to see our country and all we have worked for for over fifty years go up in flames. Our leaders who have visited the attacked churches are participating in a process of dialogue and understanding – a process that must continue, regardless of thugs who want to put a stop to it.

It should not take an attack on a mosque or a temple to get other Malaysians to visit these houses of worship, and try to better understand the patchwork of faiths which makes up our national heritage. There is nothing wrong with talking about our faith with Malaysians from other backgrounds; the aftermath of these attacks has made that clearer than ever. Out of the ashes of this sickening sectarian violence, we can build a better Malaysia.

About Sivin Kit

man of one wife, father of four kids
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