Malaysian parish brings together Christians and Muslims to march for peace and unity
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) – “Unity will always be the focus as we grow together as Malaysians. We each have our own religions, and our religion is our own way to God, and we need to respect each other’s journey,” said Fr Simon LaBrooy, parish priest at the Church of the Divine Mercy.
The Catholic priest spoke about the values in relation to an annual interfaith walk organised by his parish each year since 2013. The march aims to bolster the values of respect and understanding among people, regardless of religion, ethnicity, or race.
For this reason, ““We cannot say anything bad about each other or use a word like religious ‘tolerance’. There is no love in tolerance. We need to respect each other’s faith,” the clergyman said.
Once again, as it has done since 2013, the Church of the Divine Mercy Parish in Sham Alam organised the ‘Walk of Faiths in Friendship’ to promote peace, respect and love among people.
About a thousand people from various religious and ethnic backgrounds met on Malaysia Day in Taman Tasik, Shah Alam, capital of Selangor State, to take part in an interfaith march for peace.
For the first time this year, the organising committee included representatives of the Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu and Baha'i communities as well as Christians, confirming the multi-religious character of the event.
Speaking to Malaysian Insider, Shah Alam Buddhist Society president, Datuk Vincent S.C. Lim, said that the interfaith council could unite Malaysians despite their differences.
“Today is Malaysia Day*. We want to show the true Malaysia, to show how Malaysians act and live and work together. It is only then that we can move forward together in unity,” he said.
Muslim leaders agree. “If you stay apart from each other, there will be prejudice because there is no understanding,” said Yaakob Sapari, assemblyman for Kota Anggerik. “With more interaction between different races, we can understand each other, and through this understanding there will be respect. That is when we can live peacefully and harmoniously”.
The interfaith walk sponsored by the Catholic parish with the support of leaders of the country’s main religions comes at a time of deep political and institutional crisis in Malaysia, as evinced by a series of recent strikes and demonstrations.
In late August, opposition movements held a large-scale demonstration to demand Prime Minister Najib Razak’s resignation over his involvement in a corruption scandal worth hundreds of millions of dollars.
The latter rejected the call out of hand, insisting that he would end his term of office as expected. To make his point, he organised a counter-demonstration in support of the government on Malaysia holiday.
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.
They play an important role in the nation's life; however, in recent years, they have been the object of attacks and violence in relation to the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims.
* Malaysia Day marks the founding of the federation on 16 September 1963.