Clara Chooi, The Malaysian Insider
Local clergymen are unhappy that federal Islamic authorities appear to be bent on “waging a war” between the country’s Muslims and Christians over the protracted dispute on non-Muslims’ usage of “Allah” to refer to their God.
When contacted for their response to yesterday’s Friday sermon by the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim), church leaders sighed in disappointment that the religious authority was so blatantly inciting suspicion and intolerance between the two most dominant religions here.
But they refrained from condemning Jakim, noting that the authority reserved the right to preach to all Islamic followers like how church leaders could preach to parisioners, adding that it was time to lay the matter to rest.
“The emphasis is unfortunate, because all religious places should be teaching people to live in peace and harmony with others, instead of cultivating a culture of suspicion,” said Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) general secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri (picture).
Treading carefully, the leader said that religions should always foster togetherness and acceptance, and should prevent from creating a society of fanatics.
“But that is all I can say at this point,” he added.
Catholic priest Rev Fr Simon Labrooy was more forward with hs words, asking if the individual or individuals who penned the sermon in Jakim had unity or division in his mind.
He said it was not the Malaysian Muslims who were “waging a war” on the Christians, but suggested that it was the person who wrote the sermon who should be investigated for his intention.
“Never that the Muslims are to blame for doing this. But who has the right to write this? He should be hauled up because it shows that in his mind, he is already inciting religious tension.
“Next, we have already provided a lot of facts o why and how ‘Allah’ has been used by Christians... why do you want to commit yourself to a blatant lie like this?
“How could you judge the Arab-speaking world, particularly the Christians who use ‘Allah’ there?” he said.
When asked if Subang Jaya parisioners in his flock have been affected by the ongoing polemic or feel animosity towards Muslims, Labrooy said Christians are aware that the ordinary Muslim is not the one responsible for the dispute.
“They (Muslims) too do not want tension or trouble... this is just the work of a few bad apples,” he said.
Our Lady of Lourdes Church parish priest Rev Fr Michael Chua said the latest Friday sermon would warrant another discussion among CFM members on whether they should issue another response to the issue.
“This is not the first time... there have been many other occasions and we cannot be responding to every single thing.
“Let us stick to our last stand on this issue... for the sake of not prolonging this,” he said, referring to CFM’s remarks on the threat by Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali to burn Malay language Bibles.