Christian Persecution Is Najib’s Cross To Bear

Are the impositions placed on Malaysian Christians, which range from the desecration of Holy Communion to the Holy Bibles being defaced, a form of modern day persecution of the Christians in Malaysia?

What is it with this government and with those Malay/Muslims who are intolerant of their Christian neighbours?

Are we (Jewish, Christians and Muslims alike) not “People of the Book”?

Any injustice or evil acts against people of other religions are dismissed without so much as a police investigation or stiff punishment, like the treatment of those of the Hindu faith, such as the cow head incident or temples which are demolished.

Nevertheless, the Christians of Malaysia are subject to a drip-drip effect of persecution. Are Malaysians not aware that Article 11 of the Constitution guarantees religious freedom for all Malaysians (bar Muslims)?

As Malaysians, have we lost our need to be respectful of each other’s belief? How long will it be before we lose sight of our own humanity and dignity?

In 2006, the Catholic community in Silibin, Ipoh was subject to a humiliating and frightening experience. A potentially hostile crowd had gathered in response to rumours sent out by text messages, by a mufti, that hundreds of Malay teenagers were to be baptized at the church.

Ipohites were disappointed when there was no police action over the demonstrations in the church compound by the unruly crowd.

In 2007, The Herald, a weekly Catholic newspaper had to file for a judicial review after it was ordered to stop using the Arabic word “Allah” in its publication by the Ministry of Home Affairs, under the Printing Presses and Publication Act of 1984.

The Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar prohibited the use of the word “Allah” on the grounds of national security and to avoid misunderstanding and confusion among Muslims.

In 2009, two Muslim reporters from Al-Islam, a small Malaysian magazine, took part in Catholic Mass and received Holy Communion at St. Anthony’s Church in Kuala Lumpur. The reporters spat out the wafers, photographed them, then published their deceit in the May 2009 edition. The magazine was part of the Utusan Malaysia group

Archbishop Murphy Xavier Pakiam also said that the Catholic Lawyers’ Society sent a memorandum to the Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein in August 2009 on the desecration of Holy Communion.

“We have not heard of any action taken by the government. This silence does not augur well for interreligious harmony and peace,” said a disappointed Pakiam when asked after the event.

When a Tamil newspaper published a caricature of Jesus smoking and drinking, Archbishop Pakiam was quick to treat the matter as closed, as soon as the paper apologised.

“We are in the habit of seeking forgiveness and forgiving others. Forgiveness is in our blood,” said a forgiving Pakiam, “it is our daily prayer that God will forgive us even as we seek to forgive others.”

Last Christmas, more humiliation was heaped onto the Catholic community. When Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak attended the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur’s Christmas tea party, church officials were instructed to remove crucifixes and other religious symbols, as well as not sing hymns or pray, in Najib’s presence.

In recent days, we heard about the two consignments of 5100 and 35000 Bibles which were confiscated at Port Klang and the Kuching port,  respectively,  in 2009. Their release has been a long and protracted process.

It is believed that Najib has ordered the 5100 bibles to be released but the Home Minister Hishamuddin Hussein stipulated two conditions prior to release. The result is that these Holy Books are now defaced.

Does Najib expect people to observe his ‘1Malaysia’ slogan if Christians are ridiculed, their books defaced and they are prevented from observing their full Christian beliefs?

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