Sunday, March 20, 2011

Malay Bible Controversy Needs Cool Heads to Defuse Ethno-Religious Tensions

Thirty thousand Malay Bibles seized by Home Ministry officials from the port here were stamped today with the government’s seal without the importer’s consent despite Putrajaya’s assurance that the holy books for Sarawak Christians would be left untouched.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had defended his ministry’s stamping of 5,100 Malay-language Bibles in Port Klang with its official seal, saying it was standard protocol and not done to “deface” the Alkitab.

“As for the serial numbers on the Bibles, the reason why it was done to the specific Bibles is because they are subject to the particular seizure in Klang,” he added.

Hishammuddin’s Cabinet colleague Nazri Aziz had also said the 5,100 copies in Port Klang remain illegal due to a prohibition in Selangor Islamic laws.

However, the de facto law minister had told The Malaysian Insider that the 30,000 Alkitab in Kuching could be released immediately as there was no enactment in Sarawak against the use of the term “Allah” in non-Muslim publications.

The Sarawak importer, James Redas, said that local Bumiputera Christians are highly upset at what they see as a desecration of their holy book and will make their feelings felt at the ballot box.

Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria has warned the release of the previously impounded 35,100 Malay-language bibles could lead to Malay anger and fearsome consequences.

The Malay Bible controversy should be carefully managed by all parties. Malaysia is already a polarized country. Division between ethnic and religious communities is quite pronounced. We must be prepared to address this issue with a sense and sensibility.

There are two major issues here:

1) Ego. Malaysia's diverse ethno-religious communities should learn to accept and respect the existence of all religions in the country. We should compete for exclusivity of any religion. All religions profess good spiritual and moral values to their followers.

We should address the issue of ego. Harussani sounds egoistic when he claimed that the release of Malay-language bibles could lead to Malay anger and fearsome consequences. Why should and why would the Malay react in such hostility? Personalities such as Harussani should be refrained from making a false representation for the Malay. Let our Malay Muslim brothers and sisters speak for themselves.

I am confident that most Malay Muslims are confident of their Islamic faith. Islam is a major religion in the world. Muslims would not leave the religion just because they can get access to Malay-language bibles. I was a student of Islamic history and had read the Quran but instead of converting to Islam I had gained valuable knowledge about Islam and its virtues.

We should get rid of EGO if we want to achieve a real solution.

2) Second is the issue of confidence. I believe that a lack of communication and mutual understanding had led us to this controversy. Silly as it may sound there is no need for the government to react so negatively towards the Malay-language bibles. I believe the PM is a sensible and moderate leader. But it is not easy for any moderate leader to lead effectively in such a political environment. We should refrain from using the Bibles as a political pawn in the next Sarawak state elections. Unfortunately, the issue is expected to take a centre stage in Sarawak, risking further rifts amongst the Christian and Muslim communities.

The government, religious bodies, council of churches and eminent individuals must come together to put a stop to incessant and unnecessary politicization of the religious book. There are many things which can be politicized but not this BOOK not the BIBLE.

Malaysia must focus on bigger issues.


najib manaukau said...

The Home Minister released the bibles in Sarawak because the Minister knew the state election is just around the corner. In order to please the voters there he had them released. While there is no coming election in the mainland the bibles held in Klang are therefore not realsised.
It does't take the brain of a mouse to know his deceit. I think enough is enough of this deceitful Umno get ready to vote Umno out of the coming GE !

Anonymous said...

Malaysia has been ruled by 1 party since independence-even longer than Ghadaffi [ 42 years] .Be that it may our multiracial concept has been eroded by a government ploicy of religious intolerance contrary to the constitution and segregation.It is purposeful that the government keeps the races apart -for UMNO's own gain. Its time for real change we need to vote with a conscience. malaysian non-Malays must never vote for MIC or MCA or any componennt party of BN

Anonymous said...

Bible in English is one of IFC establishment meant to destroy Islam..look up wat is IFC

Anonymous said...

How can the printing the Bible in the national language, which is 'Malay', be seen as deliberate wounding of the religious sentiments of other persons? I find their excuse so lame and their mind to be narrow. If that is the case, is Pembela telling non-Malays that they should not be conversing in Malay? Is this what 1Malaysia is all about?
Yusri, I puke seeing your illogical statements and you should be charged under the Sedition Act for stirring up racial sentiments. With so many social, economical issues that is plaguing some society, you waste your time trying to be a hero for a bunch of narrow-minded idiots. It all boils down to whether if Malaysia is a secular or Islamic state. Constitutionally, Malaysia is a secular state with freedom of religion enshrined in the supreme law of the country. But since the days of TDM (Mahathir Mohamad the current senile mamak kutty), it is becoming more and more otherwise. Which is why the so-called little idiotic nothing better to do Napoleans as well as groups like Pembela and Perkasa can make such demands.