Sunday, January 19, 2014

PAS Lawmaker Warns Catholic Priests Against Being Used by Umno in Allah Row

Umno leaders are pushing the Allah issue to make Catholic priests come across as unreasonable parties and to use them as pawns to drum up support from urban Malays, a PAS lawmaker has warned.

Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad told The Malaysian Insider he met the priests this week after being invited by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur to speak on the current religious situation at their monthly meeting at the Archdiocesan Pastoral Centre in Jalan Robertson, off Jalan Pudu, in the federal capital.

"I told them (the priests) that whether they like it or not, they are being used as political pawns by Umno-Barisan Nasional in this issue.

"They (Umno) are trying to polarise society so that the Malays feel they are threatened by everyone else," the Shah Alam MP told The Malaysian Insider, saying he spoke on the Allah issue and ongoing row over the seizure of the Bahasa Malaysia and Iban Bibles.

Khalid had also told the priests that facts are being hidden from rural Malays who were not aware that the world was laughing at Malaysia over the Allah row.

The PAS lawmaker said the rural Malays are fed with news from the government-controlled media and are ignorant of the real situation.

"It is the urban Malays that need to be won over. Umno is becoming more desperate as the support from urban Malays is dwindling.

"It is a political game. Umno's survival depends on whether they can make Muslims feel they are under threat," he told the priests.

Khalid joined the likes of fellow PAS compatriots Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa and and Sepang MP Hanipa Maidin who have organised dialogues in churches nationwide to "build bridges" with the community following the Allah row.

In his 40-minute talk with the priests, Khalid told them that PAS's stand on the Allah issue was clear – there is nothing wrong with non-Muslims using the term in their faiths as long as it is not misused or misinterpreted.

"There is no written proof in the Quran that the Prophet had prevented non-Muslims from using the word," he said.

Umno, he told the religious leaders, was using the debate over the word Allah to cover up their failures in other matters.

"For example, the hike in prices of goods and services which has caused the cost of living to rise," he added.

As far as PAS is concerned, he said, Islam is a religion that preaches mercy and peace, irrespective of religion.

"This is how we differ from Umno. They use religion as a tool for their political survival."

He was echoing the sentiments of PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang who had accused Umno of opposing Islam during his closing speech at the 59th PAS general assembly last year.

“The party that opposes Islam the most is Umno. The DAP doesn’t agree with Islam. We have differences of opinion but the DAP voices out their differences,” Hadi was quoted as saying.

The current Allah row became more heated after the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) raided The Bible Society of Malaysia earlier this month and seized more than 300 copies of the Alkitab and Bup Kudus (Iban bible).

Selangor Umno chief Datuk Seri Noh Omar had also recently announced that 30 roadshows had been lined up to "educate" Muslims on the state's controversial legislation governing propagation among Muslims in view of the Allah row.

He had also led about 1,000 Umno members in Hulu Selangor in a protest against the use of the word Allah by Christians.

At the end of the march, they had burnt an effigy of Rev Father Lawrence Andrew, who is the editor of the Catholic weekly, Herald.

Andrew had earlier caused an uproar after he insisted that Catholics in Selangor will continue to use the word Allah during Bahasa Malaysia church services despite a decree by the Sultan forbidding non-Muslims from doing so.

Last year, the Court of Appeal overturned a High Court ruling that allowed Christians to use the word Allah in the Herald, saying that Allah was not integral to the Christian faith.

Christians make up about 9% of the Malaysian population, or 2.6 million.

Almost two-thirds are Bumiputeras and based in Sabah and Sarawak, where they routinely use Bahasa Malaysia and indigenous languages in their religious practices, including describing God as Allah in their prayers and holy book.

Read the Bahasa Malaysia version of this article courtesy of The Malaysian Insider
-The Office of MP for Shah Alam-

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