Say sorry for ‘bad faith’ on free Qurans, non-Muslim interfaith group told

Sabariah Abdullah

(Malay Mail Online) – Organisers of the “One Soul One Quran” demanded an apology today from the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) for casting doubt on its initiative to help non-Muslims understand Islam.

The Islamic Information and Services Foundation (IIS) secretary-general Sabariah Abdullah described fears that the project was aimed at converting non-Muslims as “ridiculous”, and warned the interfaith group that their remarks were possibly seditious.

“Telling people to adopt defensive, negative, ridiculous and non-progressive attitudes of not even considering a positive move towards establishing a major landmark in interfaith relations in this country is indeed in bad faith and tantamount to ‘hasutan’, under the Sedition Act,” she said at a news conference here.

“We are demanding an apology over the media. We would be appreciative if MCCBCHST makes and immediate amendment to its extreme and cruel remarks,” the IIS representative added.

The interfaith group had accused the project to distribute one million copies of the Quran of being a concerted effort to persuade non-Muslims to abandon their faith, and urged non-Muslims not to accept the translation of the Islamic holy text.

It also dismissed the project’s purported objective to remove misconceptions of Islam, and labelled it a disguised propagation of Islam and in “bad faith”.

The group further said the Quran should not be distributed so freely as the copies might be disrespected, and some Muslims might find it blasphemous to see non-Muslims owning those translated copies of Quran.

It also warned Muslims that propagation of religion by inducements or other pretexts may amount to an offence under Section 298A of the Penal Code.

Responding to this, Sabariah maintained that IIS’s efforts was not an offence under the Penal Code.

“It may to some people smell like ‘hasutan’, crudely rejecting an honest invitation to examine the very source if a Muslim’s beliefs and commitment, all in the name of enhancing the spirit of muhibbah.

Sabariah pointed out that Bibles were readily available in some hotels in Malaysia, and questioned MCCBCHST whether this should also be considered an offence under Section 298A.

“So what do we make of Bibles in hotel rooms all these years? That can be easily interpreted as an inducement under the pretext of providing for the need of hotel guests of Christian faith,” she added.

Racial and religious tensions have simmered for the past few years as Muslim groups accuse Christians of trying to convert Muslims with their insistence on referring to God as “Allah”, while Christian groups complain of Bumiputera Christians in Sabah being duped into embracing Islam.

Proselytisation of non-Islamic religions to Muslims is an offence in Malaysia, but not vice versa.