Thursday, August 4, 2011

Christian group ‘shocked and appalled’ by Jais church raid

August 04, 2011
The DUMC compound in Petaling Jaya last night. — Picture by Boo Su-Lyn
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 — The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) demanded today an investigation into the church raid by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) last night.

CFM Chairman Bishop Datuk Ng Moon Hing said in a statement that CFM is “deeply shocked and appalled” by the raid at Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) by Jais, assisted by the police.

“It is ironic that such a celebratory gathering of volunteers, leaders, supporters and members of the community should be disrupted by the high-handed and repugnant actions of the state religious enforcement officers,” he said.

The Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) has earlier called on all Malaysians to lend support and object to what it called the authorities’ breach of their constitutional right to assemble freely, after it was raided by Jais officials and the police.

In a statement today, DUMC’s senior pastor Daniel Ho related how a group of 20 to 30 of Selangor’s religious police had entered its rented premises at the Dream Centre in Petaling Jaya late last night without a warrant and intimidated invited guests, including Muslims, at its private dinner celebration.

“They have subjected all guests at the Thanksgiving Dinner to undue harassment,” he said, noting that not all the enforcement group were in uniform and had failed to produce a copy of the complaint when asked for the reason for the raid.

Ho stressed that the dinner was non-religious in nature but held to celebrate the work of non-profit organisation Harapan Komuniti in helping women, children, HIV/AIDS sufferers and victims of natural disasters.

The pastor told The Malaysian Insider last night that the thanksgiving dinner organised by Harapan Komuniti was attended by between 100 and 120 guests of all races, adding they were mainly Christian although he admitted there were “there were about 15 or so Malays.”

The Bishop Ng said JAIS and the police officers’ action is an affront to the values of “mutual respect and harmony which should be accorded to every person, regardless of religious, cultural or ethnic background in Malaysia”.

Ng also questioned the legality of the raid and the subsequent “interrogation and harassment” of the guests present at the dinner.

“Christians are shocked and saddened at this deplorable action. In recent times, we have witnessed an increase in incidences where Christians have been singled out and targeted with unjustified accusations and prejudice from various groups as well as certain mainline media who have made inflammatory statements against the spirit of 1Malaysia.

“We call upon the relevant authorities, including His Royal Highness the Sultan of Selangor, to conduct a thorough investigation over this unjustified raid. We also call upon the government and all Malaysians to work together to build a truly cohesive and harmonious society based on mutual respect, dialogue and understanding,” he said.

Last night’s raid in the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state came after Malaysia sealed formal ties with the Vatican last month, seen as a high point in religious relations where Muslims are the majority.

Religious tensions heightened two years ago when the Home Ministry barred Christians from referring to their god as “Allah” in a Catholic newspaper.

In 2009, the High Court allowed the church to use the word, but the case is pending a Home Ministry appeal of the decision.

Several churches across the country fell victim to arson attempts in January last year following the ruling.

Christians, who form 9.2 per cent of Malaysia’s 28.3 million-strong population, were further outraged when the Home Ministry seized 35,100 Malay-language bibles.

The bibles were later released ahead of the Sarawak state election in April on condition that copies in Peninsular Malaysia be marked with a cross and the words “Christian publication”.


1 comment:

  1. First, normal citizens will be arrested for wearing a yellow shirt with the word CLEAN on it. Now, citizens will be questioned if they attend a multiracial dinner in a place of worship. We should now make it compulsory for all Msians to visit the places of worship of our counterparts and engage in friendly talk and sow goodwill all year round.

    Do the opposite of what the world is doing: racism, bigotry, religious hypocrisy, fear-mongering and sanctimonious prejudice.

    The idea of disupting a dinner function is not only culturally distasteful among Asians but to claim that leaflets were distributed to evangelise the non-Christians is hypocrisy and a farce. How many non-Christians have access to Christian evangelistic websites?

    Anyway, the pastor at DUMC is known to be apolitical – he does not make fun of the government nor take sides with political parties. A fair and reasonable man who remembers the names of his congregation when they come into church. That is how hospitable he is.

    It just saddens me to see him on the front page talking on his handphone while the JAIS officers are crowding around a guest. Meanwhile, i almost cried seeing the pictures of Somalian babies dying of starvation next to the headline news.