Wednesday 15 June 2011

Christian leader wants Putrajaya tested over Alkitab vows

The home ministry previously seized over 35,000 copies of the Alkitab. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 — The leader of the country’s evangelical churches has asked Christians to hold the government accountable to its promises during the recent Sarawak elections by importing more Malay bibles.
“Go and import more Bibles and see if the [Home Ministry] stops us. Print the Bibles and see if the [Home Ministry] harasses us again. Being polite and positive does not mean we are naive,” National Evangelical Christian Fellowship chairman Rev Dr Eu Hong Seng wrote in the umbrella body’s quarterly newsletter published this week.
The import of the Alkitab — as the Malay-language bible is called — is among a laundry list of Christian woes that have piled up over the years.

“The government has said they want to work towards the religious aspirations of all. Find out what that means. Can our Bibles be declassified as they are now considered ‘prejudicial to the security of the country’? Be proactive. Saying ‘thank you’ does not mean we have accepted the 10-point resolution in totality,” wrote Rev Eu.

He pointed out that ultimately “we all want the same thing — religious freedom we all enjoyed when Tunku shouted the first Merdeka.”

“Let’s do another common sense thing. Hold our government accountable. If the offer was indeed an election ploy, the government can expect to face an angrier and more unforgiving electorate. So, the sensible thing to do is to prepare for the next GE today!”

Faced with an unyielding Christian community ahead of the April 16 Sarawak election, Datuk Seri Idris Jala, on behalf of the government, offered a 10-point solution to the Alkitab impasse, which allowed the bible to be freely distributed across the country in all languages.

Jala, who is from Sarawak, offered a new list of suggestions to put an end to the month-long stand-off in a bid to head-off a possible backlash against the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition by Christians who make up half the population in the state. However, the government insisted that the front cover of Malay-language bibles in the peninsula be marked with a cross and the words “Christian Publication.”

This was despite a pending appeal by the government over the High Court’s decision to allow non-Muslims to use the term Allah in their printed publications.

But Malay group Pembela has threatened to challenge the legality of the “Idris Jala Formula”.

The controversy was sparked by the seizure of over 35,000 Malay language bibles by the home ministry.
Following the recent controversy over Utusan Malaysia’s Christian Malaysia claims, Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali also threatened Christians that he would wage a crusade or holy war should they proceed with what he said was their agenda to usurp Islam.

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