27 August, 2014 AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook            

Help AsiaNews | About us | P.I.M.E. | | RssNewsletter | Mobile





mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
e-mail this to a friend printable version


» 01/04/2008
MALAYSIA
Taoist statue deemed “offensive” to Islam raises new controversy over religious freedom
After local authorities approved Mazu statue two years ago, state government halts construction of the goddess of the sea. In July state mufti declared the statue was “offensive” because too close to a mosque. Political opposition and Chinese community protest. The incident is the latest in a string of cases that threaten inter-faith harmony.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The construction of the world’s tallest Taoist Goddess of the Sea statue has set off the latest row over religious freedom in Malaysia. The 36-metre (108-foot) statue of Mazu, known as Tin Hau in Hong Kong, should be erected in the fishing village of Kudat on Borneo Island. So far only the platform has been set; the statue itself is waiting some 200 km away in the port town of Kota Kinabalu. Local authorities had approved construction in December 2005 but Sabah state authorities stopped construction saying that the statue was “offensive to Muslim sensitivities.”

Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, who heads the Chinese-based Democratic Action Party, warned that if the row was not resolved it could hurt multiracial and inter-faith harmony in the hitherto tolerant Malaysia.

“The insensitive controversy objecting to the building of the Mazu statue is created by a small group of Muslims with ulterior political objectives, which setS a dangerous precedent in undermining inter-religious goodwill in Malaysia,” he said.

“All we want is for Mazu Goddess to protect us when we are at sea and our Muslim countrymen have nothing against,” said a local fisherman.

After the state government halted construction Sabah’s mufti issued a fatwa saying the statue was “offensive to Islam” because it was too close to a mosque.

Sabah’s deputy chief minister Chong Kah Kiat, an ethnic Chinese, resigned in protest and in early December took legal action challenging the order to stop construction.

About 60 percent of Malaysia’s 27 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims; 25 per cent are Chinese and 10 per cent, Indians, mostly Hindu or Christian.

Malaysian commentators and minority leaders have sounded the alarm over the growing ‘Islamisation’ of the country and the increasing polarisation of the three main ethnic communities, which mix much less than in the past.

In recent weeks there have been other controversies, including a ban issued by the Ministry of Internal Security on the use of the word ‘Allah’ for God by the Herald, a Catholic weekly.

Catholics and Protestants have also had their right to build places of worship severely restricted.


e-mail this to a friend printable version

See also
09/14/2010 MALAYSIA
In Kota Kinabalu, Mass in which the deaf can hear the Good News
by Jeremy Lim
12/06/2005 MALAYSIA
Malaysia's Islamic fundamentalist party faces ballot box test
10/30/2013 MALAYSIA
Distribution of Catholic weekly in Sabah stopped to see if it used banned word 'Allah'
09/04/2007 MALAYSIA
Mission in Northern Borneo celebrates 150 years
by Mauro Mezzadonna*
01/09/2014 MALAYSIA
The 'Allah' affair: Police interrogates Fr Lawrence, turns evidence over to prosecutor

Editor's choices
IRAQ-ITALY
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul," the thanks of the Patriarch Louis Sako; the concerns of the Bishop of Kurdistan
by Bernardo CervelleraThe head of the Chaldean Church is grateful for the AsiaNews campaign and hopes that "this chain of solidarity will reach far and wide”. Helping refugees to remain in Iraq. But many want to flee abroad. The bishop of Amadiyah where thousands of displaced people have found haven in churches and homes: We also help the Arabs (Muslims), and Yazidis, for free and without looking at our confessional differences.
ITALY - IRAQ
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul" to respond directly to Iraq's emergencyAsiaNews is launching a fundraiser to support Christians targeted by the Islamic State, thus responding to a request by the Patriarch of Baghdad and Pope Francis's urgent appeal "to guarantee all necessary assistance - especially the most urgently needed aid - to the great multitude of people who have been driven from their homes, whose fate depends entirely on the solidarity of others." More than 100,000 people have been forced to flee their homes leaving everything behind and now have nothing to live on. To help them, five euros a day are enough. The funds raised will be sent to the Patriarchate of Baghdad, which will distribute them according to the needs of each family.
CHINA - VATICAN
Wenzhou bishop and priests slam government's campaign against crosses and churches in Zhejiang
by Eugenia ZhangFor Mgr Vincent Zhu Weifang, from the official Church, the campaign of destruction is increasing social instability. It is real persecution against the Christian faith. The bishop apologises for failing to intervene sooner. He was hoping that the campaign would end quickly. Catholics and Protestants suffer injuries as they attempt to defend their sacred buildings. For priests in Wenzhou, the campaign is unfair and touches buildings that have all the right papers. Such "stupid acts" by the government are undermining social harmony.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
Copyright © 2003 AsiaNews C.F. 00889190153 All rights reserved. Content on this site is made available for personal, non-commercial use only. You may not reproduce, republish, sell or otherwise distribute the content or any modified or altered versions of it without the express written permission of the editor. Photos on AsiaNews.it are largely taken from the internet and thus considered to be in the public domain. Anyone contrary to their publication need only contact the editorial office which will immediately proceed to remove the photos.