"How many Jews have Malaysians met in their life? I'll bet at least 50% of the Malaysian population have never met a Jew in their whole life. Just how much do we know about the history of the Palestine-Israel conflict? Has anyone read the Balfour Declaration? Just what is our problem with Israel?" — Abdul Hallem Abdul Rahlman, journalist.
The media outlet, the Malaysian Insider explained that anti-Semitic feelings in Malaysia, which has no diplomatic ties with Israel, are not something new. and that the sermon was just a confirmation of the strong anti-Semitic and anti-Israel feelings in the country. The Malaysian National Censorship Board in March 1994 even banned the film "Schindler's List" from the country's cinemas, in accordance with the country's long-standing anti-Semitic cultural policies, according to Tel Aviv University's Stephen Roth Institute.
In March 2012, the Malaysian opposition, Pakatan Rakyat (PKR), started to pressure the government also to legislate the banning of all ties with Israel, direct or indirect. The PKR leader even said that Malaysia should ban "the use of our ports by any company that has a trade interest with the Zionist regime." A Malaysian scholar based in Singapore, Dr. Farish A. Noor, further commented in the Malaysian Insider that as elections in Malaysia are around the corner all political parties are competing to show how "anti-Israeli" they can be.
Malaysian journalist Abdul Haleem Abdul Rahiman wrote in the Malaysian Inslder that the rise of anti-Semitism and anti-Israel rhetoric in the politics of the country is becoming pathetic. "How many Jews have Malaysians met in their life? I bet at least 50% of the Malaysian population have never met a single Jew in their whole life. Just how much do we know about the history of the Palestine-Israel conflict? Has anyone read the Balfour Declaration? Just what is our problem with Israel? The Zionist oppression of Palestinians? Get this right. Not all Jews are in favor of this oppression. I personally know quite number of them. We have NO diplomatic ties with Israel. Perfect. Shut up and move on. Leave them alone. None of them is interfering with our daily life. […] Enlighten me please. Just on what basis do we hate them so much? Because they oppress our Muslim brothers and sisters in Palestine? What about Syria then? Let's not even go into Islamic oppression in most parts of the African continent."
Malaysia, however, does not seem to have problems only with Jews, but also with Christians, who form 9.2% of the country's 28.3 million population. The day after the anti-Semitic speech in Malaysian mosques, an officially sanctioned state seminar was organized, entitled "Strengthening the Faith, the Dangers of Liberalism and Pluralism and the Threat of Christianity towards Muslims. What is the Role of Teachers?". The seminar was convened by the Education Department and the Mufti Department of Johor, a Malaysian state in the south. Two religious teachers from 55 national schools across Johor were required to attend.
The Malaysian Insider reports that the Islamic affairs minister Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom stressed that the seminar was not meant to "hurt" anyone's feelings. "The seminar is to safeguard the interests of Muslims, it is within the purview and jurisdiction of each state. We have to take care, take into consideration the interests of Muslims," the Minister told reporters.
In Malaysia, it is illegal to convert Muslims to another religion. "The problem of Christianization has been around for a long while, it is real," Datuk Sheikh Abdul Halim Abdul Kadir, president of the Malaysian Ulama Association, told the Malaysian Insider. "You need to educate teachers, especially the young ones who are unaware of this problem."
In April, Hasan Ali, the Executive Councilor for Islamic Affairs in the State of Selangor, one of the most populous in Malaysia, screened videos of Malaysian citizens, who allegedly converted to Christianity, depicting them as gangsters involved in drugs. "Westernization and modernization bring hedonism, the desire to be entertained without limits. It weakens the character; this is why it is so easy to convert them," he said, adding that hedonism is proliferating among Muslims who "instead of sleeping, go out late at night with friends. That is why we see Muslims jumping to join Christians."
The popular Malaysian blog, Malaysia Today, recently published an alarming article that questioned where Malaysia was heading: "Since when has Christianity become the 'enemy of the state', so much so that a seminar is deemed necessary to brainwash young Muslims into hating everything to do with Christianity? With such chronic hatred against the Christian community in place, where does Malaysia today stand in relation to religious tolerance? Does the nation still have what it takes to own up to the fact that the […] goodwill between Malaysians of different races has, like an avalanche, crumbled, burying deep any hope of reconciliation between people of different faiths in this country?"
People Who Abuse Quranic Verses Can Be Charged
The government can take action against people who abuse Quranic verses for certain interests and dispute all forms of worship by Muslims in this country.
Minister in the Prime Minister''s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said this followed the special conference of the National Fatwa Council on Dec 3 last year to discuss issues including abuse of Quranic verses. "The muzakarah agreed that non-Muslims who cite Quranic verses according to their own understanding without sincerity is an affront to the sanctity of al-Quran and can cause doubt and slander in society," he told Dewan Rakyat today.
He was responding to a question from Datuk Ibrahim Ali (Independent-Pasir Mas) on whether the government intends to enact legislation so that non-Muslims did not dispute all forms of worship by Muslims like the ''azan'' (call to prayer) and the Maulidur Rasul (Prophet Muhammad''s birthday) celebration.
Don’t test patience of Malays, Perkasa warns Christians
By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal
Christians should be wary of making unreasonable demands such as asking that bibles be printed in Bahasa Malaysia, Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali said today.
The Malay rights group president said that Malays have been patient for “far too long” and have allowed non-Malays to make excessive demands.
“How many Malays are Christian? Why do you have to have bibles in Bahasa? Why not use bahasa Iban, or Kadazan?
“This is a problem of national security ... we (Malays) have been far too giving, I want to remind them to not be excessive in their demands,” said Ibrahim.
“They are not the majority of the country,” he stressed.
The Pasir Mas MP said that the reason why the Christian community were making demands now was because Sarawak elections were underway.
“They are taking advantage of the elections, they raise these things and we cannot object ... they are trying to exploit sensitive issues,” added Ibrahim.
“We have not brought up the issue of our rights,” he said.
Christian groups have been locked in a dispute with the government over the usage of Malay language bibles, or Alkitab, and over the 35,000 new copies that have been impounded in Kuching and Port Klang by the home ministry.
The ministry then allowed the bibles to be released on condition of being stamped with serial numbers and the phrase “For Christians only”. Christian groups had initially refused to abide by these conditions and have not collected the copies.
The Najib administration said yesterday that the Malay bible importers have now agreed to collect the 35,000 copies impounded in Port Klang and Kuching.
However, the importers of the books in Port Klang have said the bibles will not be sold or distributed, but will be preserved as museum pieces to illustrate what Christians have called the “defacement” of their holy book.
Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Seri Mahmood Adam said the 10-point solution proposed last week had “paved the way” for the importers, Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) and The Gideons, to collect the books.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein himself had also been quoted as saying that the latest move was a “positive response” to the Cabinet’s collective decision in drawing up the 10-point solution.
Muslim group declares jihad against ‘extremist’ Christians
By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani
An umbrella coalition of Muslim groups held a protest today and declared bloodshed against ‘extremist’ Christians that insult and ridicule the position of Islam in the country.
The Muslim Organisations in Defence of Islam (Pembela), comprising 20 groups, protested after Friday prayers at the National Mosque against Putrajaya’s release of Malay-language bibles and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s promise to never impound the Alkitab again.
A group of 30 men dressed in white shirts and skullcaps gathered at the main entrance of the mosque after prayers with placards saying “Allah is great! We Ansarullah (helpers of Allah) are watching you!”
Group spokesman Dr Yusri Mohamad said that the Christians are beginning to challenge and dismantle the status and sovereignty of Islam as the state religion.
“Pembela found that statements and actions (by Christian groups) are made to further challenge the sovereignty of Islam. This is not acceptable to Pembela because it implies that there is a larger agenda to be achieved by this group apart from the bible issues alone.
“Pembela believe that despite the bible issue there is a hidden mission to open the Muslim community in Malaysia to apostasy, or at least inject religious pluralism, secularism and extreme-liberalism which can erode the integrity and identity of Muslims in Malaysia,” he said while addressing a crowd of over 50 over a loudhailer.
Yusri also asked Christian groups to stop their confrontational approach and to apologise to Muslims for wounding the community.
He stressed that all Muslim leaders regardless of political affiliation should not mortgage Islam because it will undermine the country’s nation-building process.
“We are also not comfortable with the approach of allowing non-Muslim leaders to become spokesmen for the government and the opposition in this issue because this involves Islam and Muslim leaders must step forward to address this issue.
“We ask all Muslim leaders to unite against extremist Christians that challenge and insult Islam,” he said.
Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia’s (ISMA) secretary-general, Aminuddin Yahaya, added that that country has been soiled by foreign elements.
“Malaysia was tanah melayu, tanah Islam. But when British colonialists came to our land, they also brought Christianity with them.
“We are being taken over by colonialists through their demands once again. We must unite and not compromise with those that insult our religion. We are willing to die for Islam and our country!” he said.
The Muslim coalition also reiterated its threat to challenge Putrajaya’s 10-point solution to the bibles row in court.
However the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) said yesterday it was unconvinced with the Najib administration’s 10-point solution to the Alkitab row, calling it “ad hoc and short term” and pointing out that it still did not address the impasse over the use of the word “Allah”.
CFM president Ng Moon Hing said while the 10-point solution had dealt with the impounding of the Alkitab, it had failed to address the root cause of Christian discontent — the prohibition of publications containing the word “Allah”.
Rise of strict Islam exposes tensions in Malaysia
By Jennifer Pak
|Women in Malaysia are under no legal compulsion |
to wear the headscarf - though many feel pressured
to cover up.
But engaging them in a discussion about the hijab is difficult.
Norhayati Kaprawi is a Malaysian activist whose recent documentary Aku Siapa (Who Am I) deals with the issue of how women in Malaysia should dress. She found some women unwilling to show their faces in her film - not on religious grounds, but because they feared reprisals.
This is a damning reflection on Malaysia's Muslim society, says Ms Norhayati.
"It's full of fear. If you don't follow the mainstream you will be lynched."
According to the activist, the pressure to wear the hijab grew after the Iranian revolution in 1979, and it is now the most visible sign of Malaysia's rising Islamic fundamentalism.
Muslims account for over half the population of 28 million people and are mainly ethnic Malays. Malaysia often prides itself on being a moderate Muslim nation, which allows other religions freedom of worship.
And while there are no laws forcing women to wear the hijab, Ms Norhayati says many Muslims feel compelled.
Crime and punishment
Increasingly, there is a greater emphasis on Islamic codes of conduct.
For the first time last year, Malaysian authorities caned women under Sharia law. The three women sentenced were found guilty of having sex outside of marriage.
And a part-time Muslim model was sentenced to the same punishment in 2009 for drinking beer in public. Islamic authorities eventually reduced Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno's sentence to community service last year after the story made international headlines.
Analysts say this emphasis on Islamic practice is superficial. They blame it on the competition for Malay-Muslim voters between the ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (Umno), and the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), both of which are trying to position themselves as defenders of Islam.
The youth wing of the PAS has often lobbied the government to ban Western pop artists from performing in Malaysia, deeming them to be un-Islamic.
Since 2008, when elections delivered a record number of seats to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition, of which the PAS is a member, the party has tried to moderate its stance.
Although the PAS has not abandoned the goal of making Malaysia into an Islamic state, PAS Member of Parliament Khalid Samad says non-Muslims have nothing to fear.
"We do not think Islam is all about cutting off hands and stoning adulterers," he says.
"That's a very minute aspect of the Islamic law. What's more important is the question of good governance."
In a move to show it can work with non-Muslims, the PAS is planning to open up membership to them.
"Nobody can say if we come to power, [that] we cannot govern a multi-religious and multi-racial nation," says Mr Khalid.
Cause for concern?
But a resurgence in Islam has many non-Muslims concerned.
Islamic officials in Selangor state entered a Methodist church without a warrant in early August, breaking up a fundraising dinner. They recorded the details of several Muslims who attended the function.
The Islamic authorities have said they acted on a tip-off, but have refused to reveal the nature of the complaint.
Religious officials are wary about Muslims attending church-organised events. There are fears these are attempts to convert Muslims to Christianity - something that is illegal in Malaysia.
"This action sets a dangerous precedent and makes a mockery of the sanctity and inviolability of all religious places in our beloved country," said the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hindusim, Sikhism and Taoism in a statement.
The fear of conversion has already strained relations between Muslims and the Christian minority, who make up around nine per cent of the country's population and are typically ethnic Chinese and Indians.
Over the last two years, churches have been firebombed and Bibles have been seized in an ongoing row between Christians and Muslims over the use of the word 'Allah'.
The religious minority insists that they have been using the term for centuries in the Malay language to refer to the Christian god.
But in 1986, the government banned non-Muslim from using the word 'Allah' in publications. This ban was not usually enforced until recently when the government began to act upon it at the behest of some Muslim groups.
In a move seen as a bid to win Malay-Muslim votes, the government argued that for non-Muslims, calling their gods 'Allah' would be confusing to the Muslim-majority and threaten national security.
As a result, Malay-language Bibles have been impounded by customs officials. Some Muslim activists fear that Christians are using the Bibles to convert Muslims.
Attacks on places of worship came after the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled in December 2009 that the word 'Allah' is not exclusive to Islam. The government has appealed against the decision but no hearing date has been set yet.
In the meantime the prime minister's department has made some concessions in recent months and released some 35,000 seized Bibles. The cabinet has also set up a committee for religious leaders from all faiths to resolve the "Allah" issue.
Reverend Dr Thomas Philips is one of the committee members. He says the meetings have been sporadic but he is optimistic they can reach an understanding.
"I'm convinced Malaysia is a moderate Muslim country," he says.
Norhayati Kaprawi agrees, but fears that the mainstream opinion has been silenced.
"People who hold more progressive or alternative views," she says, "don't dare to speak up in public."
Pray for Malaysia
By Steve Oh
AS children of a persecuted faith since time immemorial we are familiar with injustice and persecution.
In case you have not been informed on Malaysia, what is happening there today is there is clamour for political change as the government that has ruled it for 54 years flounders under scandal after scandal of corruption.
The latest involves a Cabinet Minister whose husband was given RM250 million to run a cattle business only to see it fail but the monies spent on sundry and all including swanky condominiums and unrelated items, including luxury cars.
Every public institution has been scandalized – the courts, media and evey segment of the country’s governance is controlled by the ruling political coalition.
In 1987 about 10 Christians were unfairly jailed without trial for no reason than some of them became Christians out of the Islamic faith and others including my former pastor for allowing them to hold meetings in his church building.
In the last elections in 2008 the ruling party lost 5 states to the Opposition which has done an outstanding job especially in Penang and Selangor in delivering a more honest, open and transparent governance.
As the 13th general election approaches there is agitation for change and BERSIH is a people’s movement led by very responsible citizens to ensure the Electoral system is free of fraud.
Right now there are many disturbing irregularities such as phantom voters, and recent changes to the law open the gates for further abuse.
In a nutshell we see a desperate situation – those in power to retain their power and those in the civil movement to remove what they perceive as a corrupt regime that has ruled for 54 years since independence.
That is a long time for anyone to stay in power.
Whatever our views politically we are agreed that righteousness must prevail because it exalts a nation and evil will only further the cause of the devil.
And behind politics are spiritual rulers and principalities that work through them. We see the arch-angel Michael do battle with them as the Word of God reveals.
On Saturday tomorrow at 2pm worldwide Malaysians and friends will gather to highlight the cause.
In KL the gathering planned in the public square at Dataran Merdeka faces possible strong arm measures from the police.
I urge you to please bring this matter before God who knows what is happening and to pray for the safety of all those involved and for God to overrule in accordance with his will.
The local Christian federation has supported the sit-in and many of God’s people will take to the streets.
As God leads you please pray fervently for God to send forth his angels to protect the people involved.
Prayer is our participation especially for those of us for one reason or another cannot be there.
Prayer may yet achieve more because ultimately God controls everything not the politicians but God also works through our activities.
Pray for the government of Malaysia that reason will prevail and justice reign.
Do not take your prayers lightly to change the course of history.
In 1986 and for the second year in a row, I led more than twenty over Christians while on a mission to the Philippines in the Throne Room in Malacanang Palace where the late President Marcos held dinners with foreign dignitaries.
There we knelt and prayed for the Philippines then under Marcos and God knew what was in our hearts even as our prayers were diplomatic because a security guard stood over us.
God saw in our hearts the concern for righteous governance because corrupt rule had destroyed Philippines and today that legacy continues as Filipino university graduates labour as maids abroad.
We were privileged to enter that very private room to pray and God did answer our prayers because a month later people power saw Marcos vacate the palace and my late co-worker told me as it was happening over the phone from Manila.
Let us go into God’s Holy Throne Room to intercede for Malaysia in such a time as this.
PRAY BRETHREN PRAY FOR MALAYSIA.
TO KNOW IS TO PRAY.
The Lord bless you and heal you if you are sick, provide for you if you are in need, and fill you with joy if you are in despair.