Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Hands off Bibles: church body tells Malaysia

Hands off Bibles, church body tells Malaysia


Tue Feb 5, 2008 2:00pm IST
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's government should stop harassing Christians by seizing their Bibles especially at entry points, the country's biggest church group said on Tuesday amid a new furore over the imports of the holy book.

The Christian Federation of Malaysia's statement came a day after a Malaysian Christian complained that airport custom officers seized 32 English Bibles on her arrival from Manila.

Federation chairman Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing said the incident, which happened on Jan. 28, was not an isolated case.

"We have received many complaints from Christians being told to hand over religious books to custom officers at various checkpoints in the country," he said in a statement. "Now they even want our Bibles."

"We will not comply with any directives from the government or its agencies that infringe on our right to use our sacred book and other Christian literature," said Tan, who represents the country's three main church groups.

The Bible seizure is the latest in a series of disputes that are stoking fears of an erosion of non-Muslims' rights ahead of the coming general elections, widely expected within weeks.

Politically dominant Malay Muslims form about 60 percent of the population of about 26 million, while the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities include Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and Sikhs.

© Reuters2008All rights reserved

Church Bodies Tell Malaysia to Stop Harassing Christians
By Sze Leng Chan

Christian Post Correspondent
Tue, Feb. 05 2008 06:20 PM ET

An ecumenical fellowship group, consisting of both churches and ministries, in Malaysia has reported local custom officials have seized 32 Bibles from an airline passenger after returning from Manila.

The Bibles were meant for a study group, said the Rev. Hermen Shastri, general-secretary of the Council of Churches. He said the confiscation constituted an act of harassment toward Christians.

"The Council of Churches is flabbergasted that such acts are happening in our country with such frequency and impunity," Shastri said in a statement.

"We call upon the prime minister ... to make a clear and unequivocal statement to assure Christians in the country that they will not be subject to such harassment," he said.

The Christian Federation of Malaysia, the country's biggest church group, expressed similar sentiment on Tuesday, saying the government should stop harassing Christians.

"We have received many complaints from Christians being told to hand over religious books to custom officers at various checkpoints in the country," said Federation chairman Bishop Paul Tan Chee Ing in a statement. "Now they even want our Bibles."

The Bibles were taken from Juliana Nicholas, a Malaysian national, on Jan. 28.

On Tuesday, a Malaysian government official said customs officers were wrong to seize the Bibles and that Nicholas can go and collect them. The government is apparently hoping to placate Christian groups and other minorities who are increasingly worried about their right to worship, according to The Associated Press.

The Malaysian government had recently been embroiled in a series of religious identity cases where the plaintiffs converted to other religions from Islam. But their conversion was not legally recognized by the secular court which followed a strict Muslim interpretation that prohibits apostasy.

About 60 percent of Malaysia's population are Muslim. The remaining 40 percent are mainly Christians, Buddhists and Hindus from the minority Chinese, Indian and other communities.

1 comment:

DIASPORA said...

It is a tragedy of our times thast mini Napoleons are creating problems for our Government and pitting the forces against each other.

I do not for one moment think that the Government or its leaders propogate or encourage such meaningless stupid acts. How would a Malay feel if he goes to India or China and is asked to take away his songkok or sarong and a female Malay is told to take out all her clothing so that she can be inspected fully.

Malaysia is famous as a centre point for drugs and money laundering. Surely other countries will slowly start doing things to unwitting Malaysians what our Numbskulls at the our Immigtration; Customs; Police and Local Authority Watchmen are doing to foreigners entering and leaving Malaysia or those who are working here legally or possibly illegally.

Surely one cannot stay in this country if she or he enetered this country on a valid pass and overstayed. Surely our Authorities are not so dumb not to be able to track them. Something else must be happening which many Malaysians know as to why the small low level Napoleons want foreginers to over stay in Malaysia. Ripping them of course on a regular basis without compassion or MERCY.

Those who entered the country illegally could not have done so if the Authorities were not in cahoots with them.

It is time that all of us in Malaysia changed our approach and attitudes for the better before other countries that are fed up with us - treat us worse than PARIAHS when we visit those countries.
Some of us have already experienced such bitter treatment merely because we were carrying Malaysian Passports. And what a way to get our holidays spoilt or be gazed at by other passengers alongside us. Little children ask " Why are they taking that Man and the woman to the side room. Can they not follow us through the Immigration Officer's cubicle ?

It is a pity that our own mini Napoleons and Chemical Alis are not sent overseas to see for themselves how the Authorities in those countries behave so that these minis can get some sense into their perverted heads.