Thursday, August 4, 2011

Raided church wants action against Jais for trespass, harassment

August 04, 2011
The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 4 — The Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC) has 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 Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) officials and the police last night.

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.

The DUMC which was raided late on August 3, 2011. — Picture by Boo Su-Lyn
“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.

“We call on all Malaysians not to condone this breach of freedom of assembly and association as provided by provided Article 10 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, but to live in mutual trust and love, to promote peace, harmony and unity in the true spirit of 1 Malaysia,” he said.

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.

“This is a dinner for people to come in the 1 Malaysia spirit,” Ho said, adding they were mainly Christian although he admitted there were “there were about 15 or so Malays.”

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”.

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