Building bridges over hardened hearts

Indeed, it is hard to achieve peace without justice, but not all justice need be punitive or vengeful. Sometimes an “undeserved” olive branch is the only way to break through and begin the healing process.

By Nat Tan

Imagine Christians protesting the burning of the Quran.

As Malaysia Day comes round, I’m proud to say that in Malaysia, this is not something we actually have to imagine — we’ve seen it happen right here in Kuala Lumpur.

I wrote in my blog last week, on the eve of Hari Raya, how a small group of people from the Youth Wing of the Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM Youth) submitted a memorandum of protest to the United States embassy calling upon the US government to stop a church in Florida from burning the Quran on September 11.

I was very proud of my fellow Malaysians for doing so, and had at the back of my head assumed my few readers would share my enthusiasm.

While there were indeed some positive and encouraging comments, it would appear, however, that the news set off quite a bit of cynicism and unhappiness. Allow me to quote directly from five comments on said blog post.

“Ok. Where’s PAS condeming the fact that the Malaysian government has 20K bibles impounded for having the word ‘Allah’ in them. If the court case goes south then those bibles get destroyed as a matter of official policy. The CCM is what you call a bunch of useful idiots”

“Perhaps now is the time to remind ourselves that destroying other people’s religious artifacts, books, temples, churches is a bad thing too!”

“Do you hear of Muslims, including our own condemning the atrocities being committed by Muslims in the name of Allah? Do you hear of Muslims condemning the call for beheading Gert Wilder? After all this Church is a minority and does not represent true Christians. SO the Christians have responded well and correctly. But do we hear the same from the Muslims?

 “Wonder if any Muslim group condemned the desecration of the holy sacrament by the two reporters from whatever magazine!!”

“I think Malaysians should not just try to please the Muslims by condemning the burning of the Koran. I think it is time the Malaysian Christians must stop patronising the Muslims in this country otherwise more unreasonable demands will be asked by the Muslims as a result, that is Malaysian Muslims!

“Everyone has the right to do and think what he or she likes as long as that it is not hurting anyone but don’t condemn any action just to please a certain group or individual. What has this group of Christians got to say when the government ban them from using the word Allah? While the Muslims can do why they want in this country and don’t allow others to even use the word Allah in their publication especially they are not even the original people of this country! They may pretend they are. The Christians have been using the word Allah long before Malaysia was even formed.

“Just let the burning of the Koran go and you will not encourage the Muslims in Malaysia! Except for the Iranians why are the Arabians not protesting?”

These comments made me sigh with some sadness.

Let me say at the outset, especially to those who wrote these comments, that I understand where they are coming from.

Just like everyone else, I have read enough depressing stories of hate, discrimination and prejudice throughout the world to instil more than a little doubt as to the innate goodness of man, and despair as to hopes for peace and harmony.

Perhaps the only mitigating factor is that the negativity I read about goes in all directions. Christian to Muslim, Muslim to Christian, Chinese to Malay, Malay to Chinese, and so on — angels and a******* everywhere, as I recently wrote.

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