Sunday, July 21, 2013

Honour 10-point ‘Allah’ deal, CFM tells Najib government

Honour 10-point ‘Allah’ deal, CFM tells Najib government

July 20, 2013
Malaymail online 
PETALING JAYA, July 20 – The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) today urged the Najib administration to honour its end of the 10-point solution it had mooted in April 2011 to calm the raging “Allah” controversy.

The umbrella body representing the majority of churches nationwide said the government should ensure that all points listed in the Cabinet circular, which was signed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself, are respected and adhered to by every member of government and the relevant authorities.

“These 10 points were specifically communicated to the Christian Federation of Malaysia in a letter dated 11 April 2011 from the Prime Minister himself,” CFM chairman Rev. Dr. Eu Hong Seng said in a press statement here, which came attached with a copy of the prime minister’s April letter.

In an apparent move to calm Christian anger during the run-up to the heated Sarawak state polls in 2011, the federal government issued the 10-point solution on April 2, allowing the publication and distribution of the Al-Kitab bibles.

The Malay-language bibles were earlier impounded for containing the word “Allah” in its reference to the Christian God.

But despite the “solution”, the tussle over the use of the Middle Eastern word continued unabated and is even due to hit the courtroom again soon when the government’s attempt to keep the word exclusive to Muslims is battled out in court.

Earlier this week, Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir warned of punishment for non-Muslims who dared to use the word in their holy books.

“The state government will not compromise on the misuse of the ‘kalimah Allah’ by non-Muslims,” he was reported as saying by national news agency Bernama Online.

The row has also ignited many fiery debates among religious groups and scholars, lawmakers Muslim fundamentalists and non-Muslim groups, creating a deeper wedge between followers of Islam and Christianity here, the country’s two most dominant religions.

Earlier this year, Malay rights leader Datuk Ibrahim Ali courted controversy when he suggested that the Malay-language bibles be burned for sporting the word “Allah”.

Just last Thursday, the issue cropped up again when critics of the government railed against the swift prosecution of sex bloggers Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee and the failure to admonish Ibrahim for his remark.

When asked to comment on the matter, Umno minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan appeared to defend Ibrahim’s remark, saying the Perkasa chief had merely been referring to the practice of burning such holy books when it contained errors.

“The Christian community is appalled by the recent statements reportedly made by the Mentri Besar of Kedah and the Minister of Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government on the issue of the use of the word ‘Allah’ in the Al-Kitab,” Eu said in the CFM statement here.

“Both statements are untenable and in flagrant disregard of the 10-point solution decided by the Federal Cabinet in April 2011,” he added.

Eu said it was “offensive and unacceptable” for Abdul Rahman to have allegedly attempted to justify Ibrahim’s suggestion to burn the bibles for having errors in its print.

“The use of the word “Allah” in the Al-Kitab is NOT and has NEVER been an error of printing as claimed by the Honourable Minister. Such a suggestion is insensitive, insulting and inflammatory.

“We reiterate that it is the express right of the Christian community to use the word ‘Allah’,” Eu said.
On Mukhriz’s statement, Eu said it was unconstitutional to forbid non-Muslims from using “Allah” in the state.

He cited Articles 11(1) and (3) of the Federal Constitution, noting that the provisions allows every individual to profess his or how own religion.

“We call on the Federal Cabinet to honour and enforce all aspects of the 10-point solution; in particular, the Federal Government must ensure that the 10-point solution is abided by all levels of government and all relevant authorities.

“The rights guaranteed to all religious communities under the Federal Constitution must be respected in all states in our beloved country, including Kedah,” Eu said.

Christians are Malaysia’s third-largest religious population at 2.6 million people, according to statistics from the 2010 census, behind Muslims and Buddhists.

The Bumiputera and Malay-speaking Christians form about 64 per cent, or close to two-thirds of that figure.

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