Monday, May 19, 2014

Speakers at UiTM seminar were never Catholic priest or nun, say Indonesia’s bishops

BY JENNIFER GOMEZ
MAY 19, 2014
  UiTM's Facebook page which shows the names of the three speakers at the seminar. – May 19, 2014.UiTM's Facebook page which shows the names of the three speakers at the seminar. – May 19, 2014.Claims by a speaker at one Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) seminar that he was formerly a Catholic priest who had converted to Islam is not true, Indonesian church authorities confirmed to The Malaysian Insider.
Going by the name Insan L.S. Mokoginta, the speaker told 1,000-odd students at the religiously-charged seminar on May 6 that he was a former Catholic priest who converted to Islam in 1976.
But Bishops Conference of Indonesia executive secretary Father Edy Purwanto has revealed that he had no information or data on Mokoginta.
When pressed further if this indicated that Mokoginta was never a Catholic priest, Purwanto said, "yes" in an email reply to The Malaysian Insider.
Mokoginta had spoken on "The Threat of Christianisation" at the seminar and further said that "every follower of Jesus should convert to Islam otherwise it would be a betrayal to Him".
Checks on another speaker, Irena Handono, who claimed she was a former Catholic nun, also showed that it was not true, as she did not complete her "education".
Purwanto said checks by the Indonesian church revealed that Irene was only briefly with the Congregation of the Ursuline Sisters as a novice.
"She never completed.
"After that we don't know where she ended up getting 'educated', to the point now where she is speaking at seminars mostly belittling Christianity, especially the Catholic church," Purwanto said.
He added that while initially Irene's appearances at public seminars were frequent and popular, it has since waned.
The souvenir programme of the seminar. – May 19, 2014.The souvenir programme of the seminar. – May 19, 2014.UiTM's Academy of Contemporary Islamic Studies (ACIS)‎ dean Professor Dr Muhamad Rahimi Osman declined to comment when asked about the two Indonesian speakers.
"The case is under police investigation so I will not comment," he told The Malaysian Insider.
Another "suspect" speaker at the seminar was Prof Dr Menehim Ali, who was was listed as "Pakar Kristologi Universitas Bandung" in UiTM's souvenir programme.
A google search found no such university. What comes up instead is a list of universities in Bandung city itself.
It is unclear, however, if Menehim goes by any other name, as in its report on the seminar, national news agency Bernama identified him as Prof Dr Menachem Ali, an Islamic Philology and Semitic Studies academician at the Airlangga University, Surabaya, East Jawa.
At the seminar, Menehim also reportedly said that the word Allah should only be used by Muslims as it originated from the Quran and was never mentioned in the original Bible.
Anger is now mounting over inaction by the authorities to investigate the organisers and speakers of the seminar.
At the seminar on the use of the word Allah and Christology, several speakers had warned Muslims against the threat of Christianisation.
Several police reports have already been lodged, in Selangor and Sarawak. Last Friday, police recorded the statements of two complainants from Selangor.
The complainants felt that the seminar was nothing more than Christian-bashing and further questioned why the public varsity allowed such a seminar to be held on its premises.
They also noted that no expert on Christianity was invited to the seminar to defend the religion.
UiTM had said the seminar was organised to increase the understanding of Muslims about the issues concerning the hotly debated use of the word Allah by non-Muslims.
Speakers had also warned of of undercover Christian priests who have been sent to Malaysia under different guises to proselytise and convert Muslims.
Pertubuhan Muafakat Sejahtera Masyarakat Malaysia (Muafakat) president Abdul Karim Omar‎ had said these "undercover priests" worked with Muslim children as football coaches and others.
Copies of books published by the Selangor Islamic Council (Mais) on the threat of Christianisation and alleged evangelism among Muslims in Malaysia were also distributed to those present that day.
The book entitled "Pendedahan Agenda Kristian" warned Muslims to watch out for "tricks" by Christians to sway them from their faith.
The book also claimed that the main reason there is apostasy among Muslims ‎is because of Christianisation.
Another book, titled "Obligation to preserve the sanctity of the name Allah‎", explained why non-Muslims, in particular Christians, cannot be allowed to use the word Allah.
The seminar was jointly organised by the Academy of Contemporary Islamic Studies, UiTM, Warisan Ibnu Aaby and the Selangor Islamic Council with the support of Utusan Malaysia, Kumpulan Karangkraf, TV Al-Hijrah, Zikay Group and Pantai Bharu Group of Companies. – May 19, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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