KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — A Muslim welfare group has failed to get the Sarawak government’s approval to carry out its proselytisation programme this week in remote Belaga, an area deep in the Borneo state’s interior said to be populated mostly by indigenous Christians.
Citing an official from the state Chief Minister’s Department in charge of Islamic Affairs, The Borneo Post Online reported yesterday that the state Barisan Nasional (BN) government refused consent to the Sarawak branch of Yayasan Amal Malaysia following concerns raised over the group’s “Program Ziarah Dakwah Mahabbah dan Amal Kebajikan” [translation: Proselytisation visit and welfare programme] scheduled for October 15 to 19.
“It is to be informed that Sarawak Islamic Affairs Department, through agreement from Sarawak Islamic Council, has decided not to give consent to the programme due to certain reasons.
“This is in line with the powers of the Sarawak Islamic Council as provided in Section 58(1) of the Sarawak Islamic Council Ordinance 2001 and Section 11 of the Sarawak Syariah Criminal Offence Ordinance 2001,” the daily quoted Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman, an assistant state minister, as saying in a statement.
According to the daily, Section 58(1) of the Sarawak Islamic Council Ordinance 2001 states that no one can teach or propagate or explain any doctrine on Islam publicly without the written consent of the council.
A day earlier, the news portal — which touts itself as the largest English-language news site in Borneo — had reported an observer complaining of attempts by “outsiders” to entice the poverty-stricken residents of longhouses in several villages in Belaga to convert from Christianity to Islam with offers of RM6,000 in financial aid per person.
“It cannot be denied that the majority of the longhouse dwellers who got visited, and would be visited by these outsiders, are the hardcore poor. With such money they might be easily influenced and hoodwinked,” the daily quoted a Christian “observer” named Abun Sui Anyit as saying.
Unlike elsewhere in Muslim-majority Malaysia, Sarawak’s population is predominantly Christian.
Its current Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has repeatedly pledged to protect the state’s racial and religious harmony, including the right of its Bumiputera Christians to use the word “Allah”.
Use of the Arabic word for God has stirred much religious controversy in the country in recent years, drawing a deep line between Muslims and non-Muslims in the multi-cultural country of 28 million people.- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/sarawak-pulls-brakes-on-muslim-groups-proselytisation-drive-in-belaga#sthash.VVEK5MmF.dpuf