The local Malay residents had staged a protest over a Cross erected in a new church just 2 days old at Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia. They fear that the symbol challenges Islam and is a threat as it could influence the young Malays to be influenced into Christianity.
Image above: The Cross at the Taman Medan church had angered the local Malay residents
Image above: The lady says "we do not want a Cross to be erected since this vicinity has a population that consist of 95 percent Malays". The placard held by her reads as the elected delegate for this area is sleeping. The placard held behind her reads as "Don't provoke the anger of the Muslims".
Meanwhile another respected local citizen (image below), Datuk Madzah Abu Anas feels that the Cross was erected without obtaining the approval from the local council, MBPJ and they (the Christians) are trying to lure..
Harun Ismail (image below), another protester believes that MPPJ, other parties or the religious authorities should take the appropriate actions. Our job is to state that we are unhappy over this erection.
The village head, Village Head Datuk Abdullah Abu Bakar (image below) says that we have to abide by the authorities decision. He says that this is a Malay area and out of concern, it shouldn't be like this referring to the Cross erected at the building. He requested the Cross to be removed either today or tomorrow.
The Cross had since been removed several hours later after the group posing above staged a protest. The placard in the center reads "Bring down the Cross".
The Liberals and others support for the Cross
Meanwhile, the Liberal Malays say that it is disrespectful to the Christians as it is a sacred symbol for the Christian community. One of them is the Chief Minister of Selangor State, Azmin Ali (image below).
Image: Chief Minister of Selangor, Azmin Ali
Lawyer groups have also confirmed that the churches have a right to display the cross under the constitution of Malaysia. “Under Article 11, all Malaysians have a right to practise their own religion and the cross is an integral and indispensable part of the Christian faith – so it comes under the rights of Malaysians under Article 11(1) of the Federal Constitution,” said constitutional lawyer New Sin Yew.
Lawyers for Liberty co-founder Eric Paulsen says that the issue is much more one of local council, and if the church authorities have received the relevant approvals from the MBPJ, they have a legal right to put the cross on the building. It is quite misguided to say that because an area is majority-Malay Muslim, it is misguided to say that only their rights count. He further stressed that the rights of minorities deserved as much protection as those of the majority in an area.
The area assemblyman, Haniza Mohamed Talha the faith of Muslims will not be threatened by merely looking at a cross or having a church in their area. (Image below)
The council of Churches have also spoken, “We believe that the majority of Malaysians will lend their voices to oppose actions of anyone who seeks to disrupt and deny the right of people to worship and their right to display their religious symbols,” said the Council’s secretary-general Reverend Dr Hermen Shastri image below.
The bewildered son of former MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress) leader, Vell Paari said, There is a saying in Tamil, which if translated loosely means 'a fearful man sees a ghost in every dark corner'. This is the mentality of such people. His proposals:
1. Convert all T-Junction road sign into roundabouts. This he say is because the presence of a cross would hurt the feelings of the protestors and sway the Muslim youths.
2. Next, he requested to follow up and demand that the school no longer teach mathematics as the plus sign is similar to the Cross. The protestors children should only be taught subtract, multiplication & division and addition only if a new symbol is derived to replace the current plus sign.
3. Refrain from using the small letter "t" as it also looks like a Cross. Instead, use the Capitol T to substitute the small alphabet "t".
The Verdict? Home Minister vs The Inspector General of Police
Is this a seditious act? Yes
Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Malaysian Home Minister (image above) says that the group who protested against the church can face action under the sedition act. "I am very colour blind and police are colour blind. Whoever ... action has to be taken and will be taken,". He repeated that "Regardless of who, if anyone touches on any religion, they are subject to the Sedition Act,"
Is this a seditious act? No
The IGP (Inspector General of Police), Khalid Abu Bakar (image above) made a statement quite contrary to the Home Minister. He says that the protest calling for the removal of the Cross did not breach the Sedition Act.
How it is desired....
A friend of mine sent me a Whatsapp image after reading about this furore made by the group of Malays over the Cross at the building. See for yourselves the image below.
Overall, there has been a mixture of reaction about these protest which saw the removal of the Cross from the building outside the church. I agree with the good Home Minister above. As far as I know, all religions do teach good things and certainly preach moderation. However, the action by the resident group saw an absence of that trait called moderation. One particular protestor who wore mask was quite provocative and said if the Cross is not brought down, they will bring it down. Such remarks can spark unwanted religious tension. The country can do much better off than hopeless violence as history has always taught us that war is always an ugly situation. I hope that issues such as this will not crop again in the future. We have many races practicing diverse religion and mutual respect would maintain harmony everywhere all the time.
1. The STAR