Friday, October 14, 2011

DUMC raid: Sultan's statement welcomed

Now that there has been some kind of amicable solution to the issue of the raid carried out by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) on the Damansara Utama Methodist Church, it is hoped that everybody - especially the politicians - will realise that such issues are highly inflammatory in a multi-racial nation like Malaysia.

On Wednesday, the Damansara Utama Methodist Church welcomed the statement by the Sultan of Selangor that no one would be charged in connection with the search by JAIS officers at the church two months ago, The Star reported.

Senior pastor Dr Daniel Ho stressed that activities organised by DUMC were meant to serve the community and welfare of Malaysians regardless of race, creed or religion.

“We sincerely ask that all religious communities and places of worship be treated with the utmost respect and not be intruded upon,” he said.

Dr Ho said the church had worked within the boundaries of law and public order.

“We call on all Malaysians to continue to live in peace, tolerance and harmony. We also call on all Christians to continue to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God,” he said.

JAIS carried out the search during a function, organised by non-governmental organisation Harapan Komuniti, at the Dream Centre Complex belonging to DUMC on Aug 3 following a tip-off about an alleged attempt to proselytise Muslims at the dinner.

On Monday, the Sultan had ruled that JAIS' raid on DUMC was legitimate.

But Sultan Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah said that although JAIS had found evidence of attempts to subvert Muslims, it was “insufficient” for further legal action, the Malaysian Insider reported.

The state ruler said therefore no one would be prosecuted, and JAIS will provide counselling to the Muslims who were present in the church during the raid.

“JAIS has submitted to Us the full report of the search carried out at the Dream Centre Complex, Section 13, Petaling Jaya as well as the subsequent actions taken by JAIS. We have thoroughly read in detail the said report and we are satisfied that the actions of JAIS were correct and did not breach any laws enforceable in Selangor,” said a statement from the Selangor Sultan.

JAIS has said that it “inspected” the evangelical church after acting on a complaint that participants at the dinner were trying to convert the 12 Muslims present at the function to Christianity. Proselytising Muslims is against the law in Malaysia.

The raid on the church was the second blatant confrontration by the authorities with Christians, who are a minority community in Muslim Malaysia.

The first was the accusation in May that pastors were teaming up with DAP to install a Christian as Prime Minister and have Christianity as the state religion instead of Islam. This episode was blown out of proportion by Utusan Malaysia, a Malay newspaper with links to Umno. And the accusation was later proven to be a lie.

Two other Umno-linked newspapers - Berita Harian and Harian Metro - reported that Christian organizations were carrying out covert missions to convert poverty-stricken Muslims by offering them cash, free food and housing and the reports appeared days after the JAIS raid on DUMC.

Such incidents will only work against the 1Malaysia concept championed by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

It cannot be confirmed if these incidents were linked to political strategies, but politicians and their backroom boys must be reminded that religion should not be misused for political purposes. 

Politicians and political strategists should take heed of an old proverb - he who plays with fire will get burnt.

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