Penang (Agenzia Fides) - Teaching school students the Bible and the Koran at the same time helps foster mutual respect between religions, acceptance and coexistence in Malaysia: this is what was said by Norlela Ariffin, a Muslim member of the People's Justice Party (PKR ), elected in the legislative assembly of the state of Penang, in the Federation of Malaysia. According to the woman, the Bible in the Malaysian language should not be considered "a threat" to the faith of Muslims, but rather as an opportunity to understand other religions.
As Agenzia Fides learns, since 2017, the woman has been organizing and leading study sessions for Muslim students, in collaboration with the religious Department of the state, proposing a comparison and a synopsis between the Koran and the Malaysian version of the Bible. "Muslims should not think that, only by touching a Bible, they can become impure". On the other hand, the leader also organizes similar study sessions for non-Muslim students to better understand Islam.
The woman defended her position when an opposition leader Datuk Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor, of the Barisan National, brought the issue into the state Legislative Assembly. According to Ariffin, it is appropriate for Muslims to understand other religions and to know other sacred texts. "We live in a multicultural society, it is important for us to understand each other, learn more about each other's faiths, so that there is no fear and suspicion", she said.
Ariffin urged lawmakers to reject prejudices and discrimination related to religion or ethnicity by calling for peace, harmony and understanding in the country. "No one has the right to polarize society, rather it is necessary to promote respect, love and acceptance for other religions".
Malaysia is a multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-religious country. Its population is made up of nearly 32 million people, of whom over 60% are Maaya ethnic Muslims. Catholics represent only 4% of the population. (SD) (Agenzia Fides, 20/11/2019)