Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sabah bishop reminds Najib of his assurance to shun extremism

BY DESMOND DAVIDSON
NOVEMBER 26, 2013
Najib addressing the United Nations general assembly in September 2010, speaking about the Global Movement of Moderates. Bishop Tsen wants the prime minister to adopt the same emphasis in Malaysia. - November 26, 2013.Najib addressing the United Nations general assembly in September 2010, speaking about the Global Movement of Moderates. Bishop Tsen wants the prime minister to adopt the same emphasis in Malaysia. - November 26, 2013.Sabah Council of Churches president, Bishop Datuk Dr Thomas Tsen, today sent a barb message to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak saying that while he is “inspiring people across the world in the fight against extremism”, back in his own backyard, Malaysians are “experiencing extreme action against the church”.
In urging Najib to urgently rein in extremism, Tsen claimed “religious intolerance has reached a dangerous level”.
Tsen then reminded the prime minister when he first mooted the idea for building a "Global Movement of Moderates", in his maiden speech at the 65th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2010, Najib called on all faiths to reclaim the agenda for peace and pragmatism, and to marginalise the extremists.
He also reminded the prime minister he repeated the same call he made two years later at the inaugural International Conference on the Global Movement of Moderates organised by the alumni of the International Islamic University of Malaysia.
“We, therefore, call on him to restore the middle ground for religious tolerance and to respect the constitutional rights of non-Muslims to freedom of religion and the right to manage their own affairs,” Tsen said in a statement.
“We were encouraged by his assurance. The world has taken note of Malaysia's message of reclaiming the middle ground from extremists."
He also pointed out that only last month, British Prime Minister David Cameron praised Najib for uniting moderates in the fight against extremism at the 9th World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) in London.
“However, back in his own backyard, we are experiencing extreme action.”
Tsen pointed to the recent judgment by the Court of Appeal that upheld the Home Ministry's right to ban the Catholic church from using the word Allah in its weekly publication, Herald, as one example of extreme action against the church.
Describing the judgment as “wholly unreasonable, irrational and repugnant”, he said he hoped the Federal Court, which the Catholic church had appealed to, would now do the right thing.
Tsen said an urgent clarification was also needed on the recent statement by Selangor Royal Council secretary, Hanafisah Jais, that the use of the word Allah in the Al-Kitab and in the Bahasa Malaysia edition of the Herald could not be used in Selangor.
No state or federal authority, he added, has any power or right over the exclusive ecclesiastical authority that lies solely with the church.
“An urgent clarification is needed as it raises concern over the constitutional guarantee of freedom of religion.
“It must be remembered that the usage of the Al-Kitab and the word Allah are matters under the constitution and federal laws whereas Islam is a state matter under the respective sultans.
“State laws and gazette orders made by the respective state Islamic Religious Councils apply only to Muslims in these states and not on federal laws or to non-Muslims.”
Tsen gave the association's assurance that they will resolutely join the prime minister's efforts to build a Global Movement of Moderates and reject religious extremism. - November 26, 2013.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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