Wong Choon Mei
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8:
Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Umno-BN government received a shelling on Friday
for precipitating religious tensions in the country, resulting in three churches
being attacked and set to fire by Muslim extremists angered over a court ruling that
allowed Christians to use the word Allah.
““We condemn in the strongest way the attacks on the churches.This sort of action
contradicts the teachings of Islam. It can only be done by people who do not understand
their own religion,” said Abdul Hadi Awang, president of PAS, the largest Islamic-based
political party in Malaysia.
"We had previously warned Umno against politicisng the Allah issue just to gain mileage
with the Malay voters and we are now saddened to see the outcome," he added.
“At this testing time, the government needs to show leadership. Prime Minister Najib
needs to show he will put the country first and not his party. He must not bow down
to the extremists within his party,” said Ramon Navaratnam, chairman of Centre for
Public Policy Studies.
Indeed, while Najib - who is also Umno president - has been quick to condemn the
Molotov-cocktail attacks, he has refused to acknowledge that leaders within his party,
including himself and his cousin Hishammuddin Hussein, had lit the fuse with their
inflammatory racial rhetoric over the past few days.
“Don’t point the fingers at Umno or anyone else. We have always been very responsible.
Don’t say this attack is motivated by Umno,” Najib snapped out at reporters.
Opening the door to terrorism
In fact, even as he spoke, Umno-backed protests were carried on at main mosques around
Kuala Lumpur, including the government-funded National Mosque.
Huge banners flashing words like ‘Don't challenge Islam’ & ‘Allah is only for us’
were prominently placed, while NGOs and Muslim activists taking part shouted ‘Allahu
Concern is growing that despite the torching of the churches, more religious politicking
and consequently public unrest is set to take place.
Said Ramon : “Until the PM takes firm action in nipping all this in the bud by ensuring
that the culprits are quickly captured and brought to justice, until Najib sets in
motion dialogue between the various religious groups and makes it clear that this
is the way forward for everyone including Umno, the Allah row will not just continue,
but it may even escalate.
“We have to be careful now. Is our government opening the door to religious extremism
and extremist acts? Are we going to deteriorate into a terrorism country? Not only
are Malaysians watching but the world is curious to see how we handle this. Not just
the West but the Islamic Middle East as well. Our country’s good name is on the line
and all eyes are on Najib and how he steers us out of this situation.”
Violence may spread to other parts
The Allah row flared up after top Umno leaders, including Women’s Minister Shahrizat
Jalil and Trade Minister Mukhriz Mahathir, openly condemned last week’s court ruling.
Hardline Muslim activists and groups were angered as they believe the word Allah
is exclusive to their community.
But after in-depth study and debate, PAS’s council of religious experts have reiterated
their stand that the Quran allows Allah to be used by non-Muslims. The council also
urged dialogue with leaders of other faiths so that guidelines could be drawn to
prevent unscrupulous parties from misusing the word and creating situations like
what has just happened.
“Umno has to take full responsibility for the worsening of relations between people
of different faiths in this country in its handling of the use of the word Allah,”
said Zaid Ibrahim, PKR leader and a prominent lawyer.
"The irresponsible conduct of fanning the emotions by Umno leaders has brought about
this dangerous situation. What we see today confirms that this country is being governed
not by engagement consultation, sophistication or persuasion but by brute and mob
force,” he said in a press statement.”
The Metro Tabernacle church in Kuala Lumpur was firebombed at just past midnight
and its 1st floor office completely gutted. Molotov cocktails were hurled The Live
Chapel and the Church of Assumption in Petaling Jaya, damaging the facilities. There
were no reports of injuries.
Although the police have tried to play down the attacks, saying they were perpetuated
by amateurs, there is growing worry that the over-zealousness will spread to other
parts of the country. In particular, the mood is gloomy in East Malaysian states
of Sabah and Sarawak, where there are strong Christian followings.
“This sort of violence reflects low mentality. Even though Umno is in denial mode,
they have lost all credibility with the people. They should just stop trying to hoodwink
us. Just imagine if anyone should dare to do this in Sabah or Sarawak, there will
be thunder and lightning,” said Ronnie Klassen, a Sabah PKR leader.
Dipetik dari Harakahdaily.