Anwar an insult to Muslims, say Islamist groups

(The Malaysian Insider) – Right-wing Muslim groups today accused Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim of pandering to the interests of “the enemies of Islam”, calling him an insult to all followers of the religion.

Representatives of several Muslim groups told reporters today that they took exception to Anwar’s remarks against a seminar on “the threat of Christianisation”, saying it was a direct provocation towards Muslims in the country.

“Anwar has always been consistent against efforts to preserve Islam… this issue is done for political mileage.

“His (Anwar’s) remarks are anti-aqidah, an insult to Islam and a betrayal to all efforts to strengthen and promote Islamic activities and events,” said Ismail Mina Ahmad, president of Islamist group Muafakat, at a news conference here.

Also present was Muslim Organisations in Defence of Islam (PEMBELA) secretary-general Abdul Karim Omar, who said some 20 other Muslim groups supported his group and Muafakat’s stand.

“Why are Muslims against their own kind? If you want to be liberal, be liberal on your own, don’t drag other people along.

“It’s like if you want to jump off a building, why are you dragging other people with you?” said Ismail.

Asked if the groups felt that the threat of Christianisation was real, Ismail said that it was a “serious problem.”

“If you look at Buddhists, Indians, they are not aggressive, not like Christians.

“Especially Zionist Christians, they provoke Muslims with their evangelical ways,” Ismail claimed.

Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have demanded Putrajaya explain this weekend’s “anti-Christianisation” seminar in Johor, saying the event was a dangerous move that could add further tension to the country’s religious ties.

“What I can confirm is that this is nothing other than a disgusting political manoeuvre to use religion to frighten the people,” Anwar said.

The opposition leader was quick to link the matter to Umno, saying it was often leaders from the country’s ruling party who had a penchant for using religion to capture Malay support.

Anwar added that if the alleged threat of Christianisation is real, those claiming to know of such incidences should furnish proof instead of instigating fear and anger among Muslims.

Religious teachers from national schools in Johor will attend an officially-sanctioned seminar this Saturday focussing on the “threat of Christianisation”, which has sparked outrage among Christians.

Organised by the Johor Education and Mufti departments, the seminar is themed “Pemantapan Aqidah, Bahaya Liberalisme dan Pluralism Serta Ancaman Kristianisasi Terhadap Umat Islam. Apa Peranan Guru?” (Strengthening the Faith, the Dangers of Liberalism and Pluralism and the Threat of Christianity towards Muslims. What is the Role of Teachers?).

Christians form 9.2 per cent of Malaysia’s 28.3 million population.

In recent years, the Christian and Muslim religious communities have been engaged in a tug of war over the word “Allah”, with Muslims arguing that its use should be exclusive to them on the grounds that Islam is monotheistic and the word “Allah” denotes the Muslim God.

Christians have argued that “Allah” is an Arabic word that has been used by those of other religious beliefs, including the Jews, in reference to God in many other parts of the world, notably in Arab nations and Indonesia.

Conservative Muslim groups have also accused Christians of attempting to convert Malays, resulting in heightened tension between followers of the two religions.