ASIA/MALAYSIA - Civil and religious leaders’ appeal: a new year in the sign of harmony

Monday, 10 February 2014

Kuala Lumpur (Agenzia Fides) – May the new year - just started, after the Lunar New Year - be a harbinger of peace, harmony and national unity: this is the appeal launched by civil and religious leaders who have taken note of the new social and religious tensions that concern the Malaysian society. One of the elements that have contributed and continue to generate tensions among the majority (ethnic Malay population and of Muslim religion) and minorities of other religions, is the controversy over the use of the word "Allah" for Christians. Recently, two Molotov bombs were launched at a Catholic church in Penang.
The Malaysian Premier Najib Razak has asked the population to work in order to build "multi-racial and religious harmony", inviting to reject "any form of violence or extremism", and to "enforce the rule of law and the beliefs of others". Even the opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, urges Malaysians to "protect their hard-won social harmony".
"Voices of hatred and animosity are trying to stifle harmony, co-operation and understanding that we were able to build with difficulty", he remarked. Liow Tiong Lai, president of the "Malaysian Chinese Association" (MCA) added that "the people want stability".
Rev. Hermen Shastri, general Secretary of the "Council of Churches of Malaysia", said that "the majority of Malaysians love peace and will not yield to provocations", while rev. Eu Hong Seng, President of "Christian Federation of Malaysia" has invited all civil and religious leaders "to resolve sensitive issues through sincere dialogue". The Islamic leader Mujahid Yusof Rawa, a member of the "Advisory Board of national unity", said he was heartened because "the Malays reject hatred and extremism", inviting the media to give importance to peace initiatives. Sardar Jagir Singh, president of the "Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism", which collects all religious minorities, called for "zero tolerance towards those who create racial and religious enmity". (PA) (Agenzia Fides 10/02/2014)