Friday 19 August 2011

Malaysia’s season for Christian bashing

In recent months, Malaysians have seen a constant drip-drip of Christians being persecuted because they were alleged to want to take over the country, both in mind and in spirit.

If we in the east complain that the west is out to demonise Islam, then how different are we from them when any Christian act in Malaysia is seen as a threat to Islam and the Malay race?

Do our political leaders seriously imagine that the Malaysian Muslim is so feeble and his soul so tormented, that he is easily influenced by the devil or by the teachings of Jesus Christ?

Do they think we are so irresolute and weak-willed that another religion, race or culture will swallow up our individual identities?

Maybe they are right. The number of schools with cheerleaders for sports activities, and proms for end-of-year parties with boys in tuxedos and girls in slinky ballgowns, is on the increase.

Perhaps MacDonald’s and KFC should be banned and Starbuck’s closed down to protect our local kedia makan and kedai kopi. It appears that Uncle Sam is a more corrupting influence than religion.

Supermarkets and hypermarkets are not good for our local shopkeepers either. So why are all western imports allowed to proliferate? They act in subtle ways and have a worse effect on Malaysians.

Malaysians seem to be oblivious to the fact that Article 11 of the Federal Constitution guarantees religious freedom for all Malaysians (bar Muslims).

The indoctrination by our ruling party means that we have lost the quality of being respectful of each other’s beliefs. When will the time come before we also lose sight of our own humanity and dignity?

Ipohites will recall that in 2006, the Catholic community in Silibin, had a frightening experience when a hostile mob surrounded their church because of a rumour started by the Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria. He claimed that hundreds of Malays would be baptised.

Was Harussani prosecuted for spreading false rumours and threatening our national security? Hell would probably freeze over before that were to happen.

The Perak mufti got a mighty fright when the public recoiled at his suggestion to ban Manchester United football and other teams with jerseys with “crosses” which “promoted the Devil”.

Harussani also banned Muslims from the poco-poco dance because it contained elements of Christianity and soul-worshipping. Many will recall that Harussani also forbade Muslims from attending open houses of non-Muslims for their festival days.

The ‘Allah’ ban

In 2007, The Herald, a weekly Catholic newspaper, was banned by the Home Ministry from using the word “Allah” in its publications. The home minister at the time, Syed Hamid Albar, said that Christians using “Allah” were a threat to national security and would create misunderstanding and confusion among Muslims.
Does he really think Muslims are as obtuse as the Cabinet?

In 2009, two Muslim reporters from Al-Islam took part in Catholic Mass and received Holy Communion at St Anthony’s Church in Kuala Lumpur. The reporters desecrated the Holy Communion by spitting out the wafers, photographed their actions and then published their deceit in their magazine.

Last Christmas, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak attended the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur’s Christmas tea party but his aides ordered the removal of crucifixes and other religious symbols, and that no hymns or prayers be said in Najib’s presence.

This was closely followed by the confiscation of two consignments of around 40,000 Bibles from Port Klang and Kuching. Najib finally ordered one batch to be released but Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein stipulated two conditions prior to the release, which resulted in the Holy Books being defaced.

This year alone, we have seen allegations of Christians wanting to replace Islam as the official religion of the country in readiness for a Christian prime minister. This was followed by a JAIS raid on a DUMC charity dinner because there were claims that Malays were being proselytised.

The latest Christian bashing is when Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, said that there were attempts by school teachers or tuition teachers to spread other religions to Muslim children.

It had been reported that Muslim children were given free tuition by non-Malay youths and had been taught to sing songs in adulation of Jesus Christ “while making hand signals to show the crucifix symbol”. The children were fed stories about Jesus, his crucifixion and his teachings.

Muhyiddin said, “Such things cannot be done because we have specific laws, (and) enactments.”
He announced that the Islamic religious department in each state had the power to take action against any group who tried to spread other religions to Muslims.

Political ploy

How does this arrogance compare with the Star reports in 2006 that RM10,000 would be given to each Muslim preacher who married an Orang Asli woman and converts her?
In addition, the preachers would receive free accommodation, a four-wheel-drive vehicle and a fixed monthly allowance of RM1,000.

Some Orang Asli were tricked into giving personal details which were used to fill up the conversion form and a token sum of RM400 paid. Others claimed that they had been promised development and aid as incentives.
Aren’t these people being converted for the wrong reasons?

Perhaps Muhyiddin should be more open and permit religious knowledge at school. It is shocking that many of our young are not aware of the existence of other faiths. They fail to respect others and expect non-Muslims to conform to their beliefs.

I went to a boarding school in England and so did a few of my cousins and their friends. Many of our political leaders like Najib (Malvern) went to a Church of England (C of E) school, just like his cousin Hishammuddin (Cheltenham Boys) as did Raja Zarith Idris of Perak.

They said the Lord’s prayer everyday in chapel and attended Sunday service as well as Carol services. As do the children of the ministers who attend English boarding schools, today.

As most people are aware, the UK boarding schools are mainly C of E schools. Prior to that, I was at Bukit Nanas and CHIJ in Malaysia. None of us have been indoctrinated into Christianity even though the Lord’s prayer was said every morning during assembly.

We respect the Christians like they respect our adherence to our own faith. In UK, none of my Muslim, Buddhist or Hindu Malaysian compatriots became Christians. We sang hymns or Christmas carols mainly because we liked singing or it was part of the school culture.

So what is it about the Christian faith that scares our political leaders so much? Is it the message of love and forgiveness? Or is it a political ploy to scare Muslims into thinking that only Umno are defenders of the faith?

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