Monday 22 August 2011

Church 'raid': S'gor forms panel to resolve row

The Selangor state government today said it will set up a syura, or consultative council, to “resolve” the controversial raid by the Selangor state Islamic department (Jais) on a church in Petaling Jaya earlier this month.

Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim said the three-member council will include state mufti Tamyes Abdul Wahid, his deputy Abdul Majid Omar and Khalid himself.

"The idea to form this syura council came from the Selangor Sultan when we had a discussion over the matter last week.
"I appreciate his highness' advice regarding how best to resolve this matter satisfactorily,” Khalid said in a statement.

This is Khalid's first statement on the issue in nearly two weeks.

The last time he spoke on the raid, he repeated the state government's position in that it wanted to wait for a full report from Jais before deciding on its next course of action.

Khalid also maintained a gag order on state executive councillors and civil servants, imposed on Aug 5, a day after news broke on the Jais 'inspection' on a multi-racial thanksgiving dinner held at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) premises in Section 13.
The menteri besar said he had already met with the state mufti to discuss the council's terms of reference, which will be to explore “areas of concern to both Muslim and non-Muslim communities in Selangor as well as develop guidelines to ensure mutual respect and harmony between people of different races and religion”.
Jais to present report to council
He said the council will also seek input from Jais and non-profit group Harapan Komuniti, which was the host of the thanksgiving dinner, and if necessary the DUMC and the 12 Muslims questioned by Jais during the incident will also be called in for their input.

Jais is expected to present its full report on the raid to the council, which at the same time examine related documents and evidence, including videos of the incident.

“The state's priority is to ensure that every aspect of our administration adheres to the principles of justice, transparency, good governance and integrity,” Khalid said, adding that the state government is always open to “dialogue regarding the harmonious and mutually respectful coexistence” of the various religious communities.

The controversy surrounding the Aug 3 raid by Jais has backed the state government into a corner, as Khalid's administration maintained its silence amidst brickbats from Christian groups and BN leaders.

Christians leaders and NGOs slammed Jais for allegedly carrying out an unlawful raid on the DUMC premises, while BN leaders chastised the state government for failing to control a department that is under its administration.

Jais however have denied that it conducted a raid, saying they did not barge in on the dinner and merely questioned a group of Muslims who attended the event on suspicion that they were being proselytised.

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