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    » 12/19/2012, 00.00

    MALAYSIA - ISRAEL

    Malaysia removes restrictions on Christian pilgrims to Holy Land



    The ceiling on the number of pilgrims is removed; it was 700. The number of days is extended to 21 days from 7. Before, each Church could only bring f 40 people. For Catholic priest, the change brings happiness ahead of the festivity.

    Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agenzie) - Malaysian authorities have lifted quotas and other restrictions on Christians who want to travel to Israel and the Holy Land. The decision was taken in November but was made public only as applications for travel to Jerusalem went up. It comes after a long feud between the government and minority Christians and might affect next year's election.

    Predominantly Muslim Malaysia bars travel to Israel but the government has previously allowed Christians to travel to the historic city regarded as holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims.

    According to the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), the government imposed a quota of 700 pilgrims per year, with any one church only allowed to send a group of 40.

    But a letter sent from Prime Minister Najib Razak's office to CFM president Ng Moon Hing on 28 November said these limits no longer applied save that visits could be for a maximum 21 days.

    Following the controversy over the use of Allah also for the Christian God, a case decided in Christians' favour in court, Malaysia's Christian minority has had to face a period of difficulties, tensions and violence, including attacks against its churches and buildings.

    With restrictions gone, some peace of mind has come to them on the eve of Christmas celebrations.

    "We are grateful we can once again go to worship in the Holy Land," said Fr Lawrence Andrew, former Herald Malaysia editor of Malaysia's only Catholic weekly.

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    See also

    13/07/2010 HOLY LAND
    More pilgrimages to the Holy Land “due to pilgrims from Asia,” says Fr Pizzaballa
    The first half of 2010 sets a new record. More than a million pilgrims or 39 per cent more than a year before come to the Holy Land. For the Custodian of the Holy land, the increase strengthens local Christian communities.

    23/08/2005 HOLY LAND
    Eastern Churches react positively to the election of Teophilus
    The election of the new Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem is greeted by many Churchmen in the Holy Land as liberation from the dictatorship of Ireneos I. The newly-elected Patriarch says he is "indifferent" to Israel's views about his appointment.

    13/09/2004 ISRAEL - VATICAN
    Interior Minister Poraz to visit Vatican tomorrow

    Taxes on Church properties in the Holy Land will be on the discussion table.



    24/03/2005 ISRAEL – PALESTINE – HOLY LAND
    Jerusalem: the Cross breaks down the wall of fear
    A talk with Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, OFM, Custodian of the Holy Land.

    21/04/2011 HOLY LAND
    The Churches of the Holy Land: reform must lead to freedom for religious minorities
    In their Easter message the leaders of Christian churches in the Holy Land speak of developments in Arab countries, and call for "a modern civil society in which freedom of expression, freedom of religion and human rights, including rights of those who are considered a minority are respected. " Peace, they say, "can not be purchased at the price of silence and submission to corruption and injustice."



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