A British MP has described the recent Allah issue in Malaysia and calls for Islamic Affairs officers to be armed as a 'dangerous' path
KUALA LUMPUR: Just weeks before Christmas, the alleged persecution of Christians in Malaysia, was again raised in the UK parliament as part of a debate on Christians around the world, with an MP urging its government to look at the right to practice ones’ religion as a human rights issue.
Rutherglen and Hamilton West MP, Tom Greatrex, noted recent worrying signs of such persecution especially in view of Malaysia being “an important” and “strategic” Commonwealth partner for the UK.
“It has had a significant trading and strategic relationship with this country over many years,” he told the House of Commons.
“Because of that background, it is right to be concerned about recent worrying signs in Malaysia, and to draw them to the attention of the Government through this debate,” said Greatrex.
He said the Malaysian Court of Appeals ruling banning the use of the term ‘Allah” a Bahasa Malaysia term refering to God “effectively” meant that the Bible was “outlawed” is some parts of Malaysia.
“Some Christian communities in Malaysia are now very much in fear of not being able to practise their faith without interference, or with limits on their ability to observe their faith in peace.
“They have been banned from using the word “Allah”, which has been used as terminology for God in Malay for centuries. That effectively meant that in some parts of Malaysia the Bible has been outlawed.
“When a concern was raised, or an attempt was made to raise it, in the state legislative assembly in Sarawak, it was ruled out of order and subjudice.
“So the legitimate concerns of Sarawak Christians about the Malaysia agreement that governs the relationship stretching back 50 years between the peninsula and other parts of Malaysia, have effectively been censured,” said Greatrex.
Sermons and firearms
Greatex also pointed out his concern over Sarawak Minister for Islamic Affairs Daud Abdul Rahman’s call for its religious department to be upgraded to a syariah prosecution department and its officers to be equiped with firearms.
He noted that last month the Malaysian Government’s religious affairs department, which is part of the Prime Minister’s office, had reportedly issued a sermon to be read in every mosque in Malaysia, “condemning supposedly liberal forces undermining Islam”.
“The implication taken by many people in Malaysia was that it was aimed at those who practise the Christian faith.
“There is real concern that such behaviour has relatively little to do with religion or the tolerance and understanding that religion can often promote, but that it is about seeking to create supporters who identify with one political party as pro-Islam, and brand their political opponents as anti-Islam.
“That is a dangerous road to take, because it unleashes mindless aggression, prejudice and fear,” he said, adding that the current policies in Malaysia were “effectively” making it “impossible” for people of other religions to practice their faith.
Urging his government and colleagues to act, Greatrex said: “I implore the Minister and his colleagues, when they represent the Government abroad – taking into account the important, specific and specialist relationship between the UK and other countries around the world, such as Malaysia – to use that opportunity to highlight the fact that human rights are also about the right to practise religion without fear of prosecution.
“Although freedom of religion is supposedly guaranteed by Article 11 of the Malaysian constitution, the reality for many is quite different,” he said insinuating that the stunningly successful ‘Malaysia Truly Asia’ tourism campaign was a farce.