Monday, January 27, 2014
In the aftermath of church attack, Sarawak leaders warn of more to come
SARAWAK: Two Sarawak politicians warned that a Molotov cocktail attack at a Penang church was "the beginning of things to come", with one saying the incident happened because of a "weak prime minister".
Outspoken Sarawak Land Development Minister Tan Sri James Masing said the attack was worrying as it was clearly a warning to cow Christians into giving up their struggle in the "Allah" row.
"I have said it before. The dark clouds are approaching and this is probably just the beginning. It is getting very worrying now with reports of such violence,” the Sarawak minister said of the latest acts of violence and provocation against Christians.
Masing hoped that the violence will not get any worse and spiral out of control.
Last week, Masing, in reacting to the decree by the Sultan of Kedah, who is the reigning Yang di-Pertuan Agong, that several words, including Allah, are exclusive to Muslims, said the decree was a signal that "dark clouds are approaching".
Masing, president of the Barisan Nasional (BN) component party Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), said it was getting ominous for Christians in the country where religious tolerance is concerned, with a clear trend now to push the use of the word Allah exclusively for Muslims.
Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian was more biting in his reaction. "This is what you get when you have a weak prime minister".
He slammed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for being silent on the Allah row for a long spell, which far-right Malay groups and Umno members took advantage to fan religious intolerance.
Najib broke his silence last week, but his statement that the 10-point solution still stands in Sabah and Sarawak but in the peninsula, it was subjected to the respective state enactments, drawing more criticism.
Two Muslim lawmakers, who have spearheaded efforts to build bridges between Christians and Muslims following the "Allah" row, have also urged Christians not to fall into the trap set by agent provocateurs.
Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad and Sepang MP Hanipa Maidin in urging Catholics to remain calm, said yesterday's firebombing of the church was carried out by those out to instigate racial and religious tensions.
"It was an irresponsible and very un-Islamic act. Every Muslim should condemn it and not allow these provocateurs to hijack the name of Islam and turn it into a religion of enmity and hatred," Khalid said.
These instigators, he said, were using the name of Islam to create religious tension to "survive the political climate".
"I have said this before. Certain parties want to create racial and religious polarisation in order to appear as if they are looking out for the people," he added.
"They are using the religion for bad intentions and are not following the teachings of Islam.
Hanipa, in calling the incident "wicked", said this was done by "irresponsible people" who were out to incite tension.
"I hope it is not a Muslim who did it. Islam does not condone nor allow any acts of provocation," he said.
The remains of a Molotov cocktail, believed to be one of two thrown at the church in Lebuh Farquhar, Penang, yesterday morning. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Hasnoor Hussain, January 28, 2014.The remains of a Molotov cocktail, believed to be one of two thrown at the church in Lebuh Farquhar, Penang, yesterday morning. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Hasnoor Hussain, January 28, 2014.He believed that the incident – along with a string of other "provocations" connected to the "Allah" row – was to divert the attention of the public from other pressing issues such as the rising cost of living.
Both Hanipa and Khalid, who are also PAS leaders, have been instrumental in holding dialogues with Christians along with their party member Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa, after the Allah issue blew up in 2009.
Tensions heightened in Penang on Sunday when banners which read, "Allah is Great, Jesus is the son of Allah", were hung outside five churches in Penang – the Victory Lutheran Church, St John Britto Catholic Church, The Church of the Immaculate Conception and the Church of the Assumption on the island and the Church of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Butterworth.This banner was found at the entrance of five churches in Penang last Sunday. – Pic courtesy of Anil Netto, January 28, 2014.This banner was found at the entrance of five churches in Penang last Sunday. – Pic courtesy of Anil Netto, January 28, 2014.
The firebomb attack at the Church of the Assumption in Lebuh Farquhar, Penang, on Sunday came just about a month before the Catholic church's leave application to the Federal Court.
The church is appealing against the Court of Appeal ruling, which overturned a High Court decision which allowed Catholic weekly, Herald, to use the word "Allah".
Following the High Court decision in 2009, some 10 churches and few mosques were attacked or vandalised nationwide. Three churches in Kuala Lumpur were also firebombed. --The Malaysian Insider