Christian cleric condemns Jais raid on PJ church


By Debra Chong, The Malaysian Insider

In an immediate reaction, Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) secretary-general Rev Hermen Shastri hit out at Selangor’s Islamic religious authorities for “storming” a Petaling Jaya church last night on questionable grounds.

The Malaysian Insider reported earlier this morning that some 30 policemen and enforcement officers from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) had barged unannounced and without a warrant into a multiracial dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) here last night over an unspecified complaint.

But Shastri said he understands the raid was linked to attempts to preach to Malay Muslims about Christianity.

“Apparently there was a police report by Jais on proselytising to Malays,” he told The Malaysian Insider when contacted.

“The facts of what happened are yet unclear but the Council of Churches view with great concern this development and call on the government to take whatever action necessary to curb the power of Jais to just go into the religious places of other communities and conduct their investigations,” he added.

The vocal Christian slammed Jais for resorting to such high-handed action in conducting its investigations without first checking with the church leaders.

“This is unprecedented. Should the authorities have any concern, the courteous thing to do is to contact the church for clarification,” he said.

“Before [they] enter any place of worship, they should talk to the leader. They should not storm the church. Imagine how it would look if someone stormed a mosque,” he continued, saying Jais’ act was “totally unacceptable” when various groups were trying to build a harmonious community in line with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s unifying 1 Malaysia call.

Shastri, who is on the Cabinet’s Special Committee to Promote Harmony and Understanding Among Religious Adherents set up last year is expected to raise this issue to Putrajaya’s attention.

He co-chairs an interfaith subcommittee aimed at resolving peaceably disputes between Muslims and non-Muslims.

A DUMC pastor, Daniel Ho had told The Malaysian Insider last night that the church had hosted a thanksgiving dinner organised by a non-governmental organisation called Harapan Komuniti that was attended by between 100 and 120 guests of all races.

“This is a dinner for people to come in the 1 Malaysia spirit,” Ho said, adding they were mainly Christian although he admitted there were “there were about 15 or so Malays.”