Let the police return of the 31 Christian hymnals start a virtuous cycle of inter-religious respect, tolerance and acceptance in the country for the next 12 months and end the rhetoric and politics of hate, extremism, intolerance and bigotry
The Police deserves commendation for the return of the 31 Christian hymnals to Catholic priest Father Cyril Mannayagam in Tangkak last night and an amicable settlement of the latest religious standoff in the country over the police seizure of the books which were meant for Orang Asli parishioners.
The police and various government agencies should learn from such an uncalled-for spat and be aware of their role and duty to be extra-sensitive to promote and not to undermine inter-racial and inter-religious understanding and relations.
I fully share the sentiments of the Sabah Speaker and former Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak, who expressed dismay at the “never-ending problem” of religious controversies over the Allah word issue, hudud and the confiscation of Bibles, hymns and other Christian literature published in Bahasa Malaysia and that “Just as one incident is solved, another one cropped up”.
Let all Malaysians hope and pray that the Sabah Speaker is not correct when he blogged that “it is beginning to look like this is going to be part of the Malaysian ‘culture’ for a long time to come”, urging that Sabah and Sarawak should not “slide down the slippery slope that some states in West Malaysia appear to be heading for” but should continue to take the lead in “maintaining the solidarity between those of different religious faiths”.
Let the police return of the 31 Christian hymnals in Johor start a virtuous cycle of inter-religious respect, tolerance and acceptance in the country for the next 12 months and end the rhetoric and politics of hate, extremism, intolerance and bigotry which had dominated and poisoned inter-racial and inter-religious relations in the country.
Let us strive to show the world that Malaysia is a model of multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural haven in an increasingly troubled world, instead of joining the list of basket-case countries where diversities of race, religion, language and culture are exploited by merchants of hate and bigotry to polarize instead of building solidarity among races and religions.
Last month during his visit to Turkey, Pope Francis prayed alongside the Grand Mufti of Istanbul, Rahim Yaran, in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque – underlining their commitment to inter-faith dialogue.
We have recently lost our way in inter-faith understanding, goodwill and harmony resulting in a multitude of inter-faith disputes.
All these inter-faith disputes and controversies must stop, and all Malaysians of goodwill from all faiths should unite to speak up for moderation and tolerance, and not allow the extremists and bigots to set the national agenda.
Let us all, regardless of religion, return to the right path.
As citizens of a country which prides itself on our multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural diversity, let us turn our diversity into a national asset and even lead the world in inter-faith dialogues and understanding instead of making frequent international headlines on “never-ending” inter-faith disputes and controversies.