CLS Press Statement: Sacrilegious Act By Journalist

The Catholic Lawyers’ Society Kuala Lumpur expresses dismay over the recent article appearing in the May issue of Al-Islam entitled ‘Tinjauan Al Islam Dalam Gereja – Mencari Kesahihan remaja Melayu Murtad’.

The article written by Muhd. Ridhwan Abdul Jalil @ Erwanz, displays utmost disrespect to the Catholic community when he admitted consuming Holy Communion and photographing the sacred specie. Although a police report has been lodged, no charges have yet been brought against the writer, the editor or even the publishers of the magazine.

There has been todate no sign of remorse or apology from the writer, editor and/or publishers of the Al Islam for the intrusion, violation and defilement of the most sacred element of the Catholic faith.

The writer and editor of the magazine have shown utter contempt to the Catholic community and the Catholic Lawyers’ Society call on the authorities to expedite their investigations and haul up those responsible to Court as a deterrent so that no other religious institution will be subjected to such similar sacrilegious acts by other individuals.

Section 295 of the Penal Code states that it is an offence,

“to defile damage or destroy any object held sacred by any class of persons, with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any class of persons, or with the knowledge that any class of persons is likely to consider such destruction, damage, or defilement as an insult to their religion…”

Section 298A of the Penal Code states that it is an offence,

“to cause or attempt to cause, or do any act that is likely to cause disharmony, disunity, or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will; or prejudice or attempts to prejudice, or is likely to prejudice, the maintenance of harmony or unity, on grounds of religion, between persons or groups of persons professing the same or different religions….”.

The actions of the journalist and the magazine clearly contravene inter alia sections 295 and 298A of the Penal Code.

We also call upon the Ministry of Home Affairs & Internal Security to investigate the magazine and its publishers to ascertain if there has been any violation of the printing and publishing licences and permits issued by the Ministry and if there has been violation of the Printing Presses & Publications Act 1984.

The society expresses concern that in 2007 no criminal charges were levied against those responsible for circulating false information of mass conversions of Muslims in a church at Selibin, Ipoh that saw an unruly crowd disrupting the celebration of first Holy Communion for 90 Catholic children. Now, matters have gone one step further with the violation of the Holy Communion itself. We are concerned that this pattern of interference and violation of that which is sacred to persons of a particular faith and then publishing the same for all to know transgresses any attempt made so far towards harmony and mutual respect.

It is in this light that we call on the Police and the Home Minister to take immediate action against those responsible.

Dated 21st. July 2009
Mabel Sabastian
President Catholic Lawyers’ Society KL
Tel No: 016-6381276

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