Thursday, June 12, 2014

Seized Bibles: the brave ones and the cowards

Published: 11 June 2014 | Updated: 12 June 2014 2:13 AM
 The former Bible Society of Malaysia chairman, Lee Min Choon, has behaved with dignity over the Jais raid on BSM on January 2. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, June 11, 2014.
The former Bible Society of Malaysia chairman, Lee Min Choon, has behaved with dignity over the Jais raid on BSM on January 2. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, June 11, 2014.

Nothing that Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said in a press statement today on the case of the seized Bibles by Jais qualified as new or news.
Seriously, there was nothing earth-shattering about it. Why do we say this?
Because most right-thinking Malaysians knew that the raid on the Bible Society of Malaysia premises in Petaling Jaya by the storm troopers from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department on January 2 was wrong, done in bad faith and violated the constitutional right of Christians to practise their faith. 
The Jais enforcers walked away with some 300 copies of the Malay and Iban Bibles, and relied on a Selangor state enactment that prohibits non-Muslims in the state from using 35 words, including Allah and Injil.

Never mind that the Federal Constitution always trumps state laws and that Putrajaya itself had come out with its 10-point resolution on unresolved issues involving Christians and allowed the import of Malay-language Bibles.

This action by Jais was mean-spirited, plain and simple. It was schoolyard bullying at its worst. 

Unfortunately, the sometimes prime minister chose to stay on the sidelines and the Selangor menteri besar offered only gibberish.

After more than six months, we have some closure but make no mistake, damage has been done. 
The Malaysian Insider assesses the main players in this sorry episode.

Brave ones
* Bible Society of Malaysia
The past and present leaders of the society have behaved with honour and dignity throughout the past few months, always relying on legal arguments and constitutional guarantees to hammer away at Jais's case.
Sandwiched in between has been their call to their followers to show Christian charity towards their persecutors.
* Mujahid Yusof Rawa
The Parti Islam SeMalaysia man was one of the first Muslim politicians who came out openly and urged Islamic authorities across the country to act sensibly and respectfully towards non-Muslims. He deserves kudos for always putting principle before political grand-standing.
* Bernard Dompok, James Masing and other politicians from Sabah and Sarawak
These men have not flinched in their fight against religious zealots.
They saw the Jais raid for what it was: a dangerous attempt by a religious authority to narrow the constitutional freedom of religion.
* Jais
They owe the Bible Society of Malaysia an apology for behaving like thugs and treating a legitimate organisation like an underworld outfit. They owe Christians an apology for speaking and handling the holy book like a national security threat. 
Are they going to say sorry? That is probably as likely as Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan or Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi saying anything intelligent. 
For Jais, arrogance courses through their veins like blood. Just look at how they showed up at a wedding in a Hindu temple to question the bride about her religious status.
* Najib Razak, Idris Jala and their ilk
When they needed the Christian vote in the Sarawak elections in 2011, Najib and gang put on such a charm campaign. They rolled out the 10-point solution, made all sorts of promises on the use of the word Allah. Anything for a vote. 
But precious little was said or done in the wake of the raid. A sighting of Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Datuk Seri Idris Jala anywhere near this issue was as rare as sighting the yeti.
* Khalid Ibrahim and his exco
The main apologists of Jais. Just how disappointing was the protection afforded to the BSM by the Selangor menteri besar and his exco and the limp initial comments about the raid?
Enough for the BSM to move its headquarters from Selangor to the Federal Territory. – June 11, 2014.

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