Tuesday 7 August 2012

Islamic authorities in Penang on the hunt for 'Christian proselytisers'

Islamic authorities in Penang are probing claims that there is an effort to proselytise Muslims by Christians.

State exco member Abdul Malik Abul Kassim said the Penang Islamic Affairs Department (JAIPP) has yet to identity those concerned. 

NONE“We have taken the initiative to investigate this issue. We still cannot identify them (those who are responsible)," Abdul Malik (right)  told Malaysiakini today.
“So,we are still investigating.” 

According to a news report, two foreigners had allegedly tried to spread Christianity to Muslims in Penang last Thursday.

Last week Malay daily Berita Harianreported that a NGO called Pertubuhan Aktivis Pengupayaan Insan (API) had claimed there were efforts to convert Muslims in Penang, especially the homeless and the trishaw riders.

API alleged that two Caucasian men, who appeared to be tourists, had approached these target groups and asked them about tourist attractions around the city.  

The duo used cash and basic necessities as bait to attract people during Ramadan, the group said.

“A trishaw rider admitted to having received RM50 and said he was promised basic necessities. He even said the two men would return the next day to convert him," API deputy chairperson Asti Toba was quoted as saying.

“API also received reports stating that the Christian movement had approached a few Muslim teenagers who were breaking their fast at a fast-food restaurant in Gurney Drive last Thursday, and asked them some confusing questions about Islam.”

Difficulties in investigation

Abdul Malik said the investigation has run into difficulties and that the department has yet to ascertain the truth about the two men.

“There are two possible scenarios. Either they came to Penang for a vacation and then met with people and talked, or they came here for the purpose of preaching Christianity,” he said.  

Abdul Malik explained that the department has yet to get hold of any evidence, and could not be certain as to when the investigation will be concluded.

“We cannot estimate how long it will take because we still have not received any results.

“We are investigating this on our own. We will only refer to the police and Immigration Department if we find them guilty of preaching Christianity.

“We will also refer to the prosecutors when we have identified the individuals involved. Only then we will know under which law they can be prosecuted."

In a related development, Bernama reported that the Penang Islamic Affairs Council (MAIPP) will also investigate the claims.

MAIPP chairperson Mohd Salleh Man said he hopes that JAIPP's enforcement division will work with the council to address the issue.

"MAIPP will also meet with the complainant and investigate the matter as soon as possible," he reportedly said.

"It is hoped that those who have attempted to carry out such things will stop it immediately because it is against the law."

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