04/05/2014, 00.00
MALAYSIA - ISLAM

Selangor, Christians demand Islamic authorities return confiscated Bibles

The Christian Federation of Malaysia and the Bible Society demand the restitution of 300 copies of the Bible confiscated earlier this year by the Islamic Department. Central and local government remain indifferent to the minority’s demands. Christian leader: Government is playing the "blame game" with our rights.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) together with the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) are appealing to the Selangor administrative authorities to return the 300 copies of the Bible confiscated earlier this year by the Islamic Department (Jais) . Its chairman Reverend Dr Eu Hong Seng said the CFM is disappointed with the state government's attempt to "wash its hands" of the Jais raid at the BSM premises on January 2 and the seizure of more than 300 Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia (Al-Kitab) and Iban (Bup Kudus). "The fact remains that Jais had acted under powers purportedly given to it by a State enactment. These Bibles remain in their possession".

In recent days, the Selangor authorities - one of the 13 states of Malaysia - advised BSM to appeal to the Attorney General to obtain the restitution of the Bible in the hands of Jais, an independent section of the administration local, for over three months. During the raid 321 copies of the holy book were seized and two Christian leaders arrested, then released on bail. Jais disputed the use of the word Allah in the text, referring to the Christian God.

The Reverend Eu Hong Seng describes the positions of the local officials as "unacceptable".  He says they are "playing the blame game" of the issue of Christians rights and "have failed to meet  take on their responsibilities".  Prior to the leaders of the BSM have rejected the invitation to write to the prosecutor, noting how this is just an attempt by the state to wash its hands of the matter.

The anti-Christian raids in early January, which included the seizure of Bibles, stems from the controversial judgment of an appeal court last October, banning the Malaysian Catholic weekly Herald to use the word "Allah". Following the ruling, some officials of the Ministry of Interior have blocked two thousand copies of the magazine of the Archdiocese of Kuala Lumpur at the airport in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah state. The seizure was "justified" by the need to verify whether the publication was "compliant" to the order issued by magistrates and "whether there was an unlawful use of the word Allah".

In Malaysia, a nation of more than 28 million people, mostly Muslims (60 per cent), Christians are the third largest religious group (after Buddhists) with more than 2.6 million members. A Latin-Malay dictionary published 400 years ago shows that the word Allah was already in use to describe the Biblical God in the local language.

 

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