Perkasa has lighted a fire of religious intolerance which is burning slowly but will grow bigger if not doused.
Free Malaysia Today
Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali wants to make a bonfire of the Malay version of the Bible that uses the word “Allah” and is written in Jawi. But a Bible is a Bible, whether it is in English or Malay or Jawi. It is still a sacred book and to throw it into the fire is an act of sacrilege. He is encouraging a course of action which is likely to lead to dire consequences. He has forgotten that Malaysia is a land shared by many races and faiths.
Ibrahim has triggered widespread resentment in the Christian community for making such a provocative statement. Most of the worshippers using the Malay-language Bible are native Christians in Sarawak and Sabah. They also work and live in the Peninsula and continue to practise their faith. They have been using this Bible for ages without anyone trampling on their rights to religious freedom. The Bible is their faith and their church. But now come Ibrahim and his Bible-burning threat.
Ibrahim’s burning anger flows from two causes: he cited a report lodged by Persatuan Mukabuku Pulau Pinang alleging that two individuals had been giving away the Malay version of the Bible to Muslim pupils at the gate of a secondary school in Penang; and the Bible carried the word “Allah”.
These are two “sins” that Perkasa feels must be purged in the interest of the Muslim faithful.
The Malay rights NGO has a point when it advances the argument that it is wrong to distribute Bibles to Muslims. Its secretary-general Syed Hasan Syed Ali points out that such attempts will only “confuse the Muslims into leaving Islam and converting to Christianity”. The Federal Constitution expressly prohibits the “propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among Muslims”. Based on the country’s sacrosanct laws, the two individuals who distributed the Bibles should be charged and that would have ended the controversy.
But the flame lighted by Ibrahim grew bigger when he urged Muslims to burn the Malay version of the Bible that contains the word “Allah”. Granted that he told Muslims to burn these Bibles upon receiving them. He did not goad them to seize the holy book and torch it openly. But the firebrand had unleashed a reaction that threatens to destroy the delicate balance of religious tolerance and racial harmony.
Ibrahim started the fireball rolling and now it has gone out of control. His “jihad” will be taken up by other rabid groups bent on “teaching” Christians a lesson. One group, the Pasukan Bertindak Anti Bible Bahasa Melayu (Anti-Malay-Bible Action Force), even wanted to throw the Bibles into the fire on a Sunday when Christians go to church. It is an extreme form of provocation which carries the seeds of a wider conflict. This group thinks Christians pray to many gods and not the one and true Allah. Therefore Christians are infidels. Such ignorance can lead to disaster.