ASIA/MALAYSIA - Forced removal of a cross: the government orders an investigation

Friday, 24 April 2015

Kuala Lumpur (Agenzia Fides) - The government of Malaysia has ordered an investigation after a group of Muslim protesters forced a small Protestant church in the neighborhood of Taman Medan, the capital Kuala Lumpur, to remove a cross on top of the building of worship. Prime Minister Najib Razak said that the executive, informed of the illegal act, gave the order to prosecute the protesters under the law in force on sedition.
According to information gathered by Fides, on Sunday, April 19, a group of about 50 protesters began to protest violently asserting that the cross, one of the central symbols of Christianity, represented "a challenge to Islam" and could "influence the faith of young people".
According to the reconstruction of the police, there was also the brother of an inspector general of police among the leaders of the protest. "The investigations will be conducted without fear or favor", said local officials.
The protest has generated outrage among non-Muslims and moderate Muslims, many of whom have voiced concern at the increasing signs of religious intolerance in the country. Meanwhile, Christian leaders urged not to take any action against the protesters. Pastor Datuk Jerry Dusing, head of the Evangelical Church of Borneo, said that "it would be counterproductive to penalize ignorance with legal action against the protesters. Humiliation only generates more hatred". Instead, he stressed, "we are confident that if protesters understood the true meaning of the cross, they would perceive it as a symbol of God’s love and mercy. The cross is not a challenge to anyone". "We believe it is important to promote a greater understanding among all Malaysians. Let us look forward by building dialogue and social and religious harmony in the nation", he concluded. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 24/04/2015)