NGOs want new Vatican envoy

(NST) – MALAY non-governmental organisations have demanded a new Vatican ambassador to Malaysia to replace the newly-appointed envoy, Archbishop Joseph Marino, over the latter’s support of the usage of the word “Allah” by Christians. 

The movements, Perkasa and Jati, who led a peaceful protest at the embassy here yesterday, said although Marino has offered his apology, this was not enough to repair the damage he had done.

“Joseph Marino is a persona non grata ambassador in Malaysia.

“He is not wanted here and should leave Malaysia,” said Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali, after submitting a protest memorandum to the embassy.

He said Marino should also make an official and immediate retraction of the said statement and an official apology from the Vatican to the people of Malaysia for such an “offensive” statement.

“Why can’t he issue a public apology through the media? As far as I am concerned, he is an enemy of the state. He must show remorse,” said the former Pasir Mas member of parliament.

Meanwhile, Jati president Datuk Dr Hasan Ali said the protest was made to show a “high degree of displeasure” towards the Vatican envoy whom he said should be expected to have better knowledge of other faiths and be respectful of other religions.

“As a religious leader, he should know that Islam is the official religion in this country and he cannot question it under any circumstances,” said Hasan, claiming that Marino, in a tenure of under two months, had failed to show solidarity with his Muslim counterparts.

The three-page protest memorandum also, among others, demanded the Vatican envoy issue an official undertaking to refrain from making similar statements in the future on the matter now pending appeal at the Court of Appeal.

“We seriously urge the Vatican envoy consider withdrawing voluntarily from his appointment in Malaysia since his unwise and unjustified statement has already caused a serious uproar from the Muslim (community),” the memorandum said.

Marino, in his first interview on July 11 on a news portal, had stirred controversy with his comments on the use of the word “Allah”.

He had indicated that the Christian Federation of Malaysia had presented a “logical and acceptable” argument to counter the argument by Muslims that the word was exclusive to Islam.

His statement had sparked outrage among the Muslim community, prompting him to apologise through Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, saying that he had never intended to interfere in Malaysian internal affairs.

Also present at the protest was Perkasa vice-president Datuk Zulkifli Noordin.

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