Church group reminds UiTM to foster interreligious harmony instead of promoting hatred
Public institutions such as universities and the police should be fostering unity rather than organising events that foment religious strife, said a faith group critical of a seminar on the alleged threat of Christian proselytisation held at Universiti Teknologi Mara’s (UiTM) Malacca campus last Saturday.
Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) general secretary Reverend Dr Hermen Shastri today said his group was deeply troubled by the event as it was seemingly sanctioned by the authorities, noting that a police Special Branch officer had given the briefing.
"Amidst the challenge of religious polarization rampant in the country, it is sad that such activities continue with official sanction and support,” he said in a statement today.
"In a multireligious country like Malaysia, it would be expected that public authorities especially the universities and the police force would instead promote activities that foster interreligious harmony and not that which seem to create suspicion among the religious groups.”
16 DECEMBER: Nothing wrong with police officer speaking at anti-Christianisation seminar, says IGP
No laws were broken at a Muslim seminar organised by Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) in Melaka on Saturday.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said there was nothing wrong with having a Bukit Aman Special Branch officer speak at the seminar, which revolved around the issue of proselytisation by Christian groups. Khalid also said the officer was invited as a speaker at the seminar.
"What law was broken? Under what provision? Did the police breach any law? Did the organiser breach any law? In this case, we were invited as one of the speakers. There is no problem with my men speaking at any forum or seminar.
If the Christian groups want us to speak at their event, we will also be there," he said after launching the Green Day Programme at the Police Training Centre (Pulapol) here today.
15 DECEMBER: Last Saturday, 12 December, University Teknologi Mara (UiTM) held a controversial anti-Christianisation seminar titled 'Ancaman Gerakan Pemurtadan Kristianisasi' (Threat of Christian Proselytism Movement) at the university's Lendu campus in Melaka
News of the seminar first surfaced after a deacon from Malacca-Johor Catholic diocese, Adrian Ng uploaded a photo from the seminar on Facebook
Adrian Ng received the photo from a student at the seminar at the Alor Gajah campus. He said the non-Muslim students were ejected from the hall shortly after the seminar started.
“[The student] didn’t get a chance to hear anything. But [the student’s] Muslim friends were also disgusted,” Ng told Malay Mail Online when contacted after he posted a picture of one of the slides on his Facebook page.
According to Malaysiakini, a special branch officer from the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), was one of the speakers at the 'Ancaman Gerakan Pemurtadan Kristianisasi' talk last Saturday
The PDRM's logo appears on the slide presentation.
Malacca chief police officer Chua Ghee Lye confirmed that a Special Branch officer from Bukit Aman had attended the seminar as a presenter.
"The seminar touched upon attempts to convert Muslims to other religions, both in the country and in other nations.
"It was meant to strengthen the akidah (faiths) of Muslims, especially among university students," Chua told Malaysiakini in a WhatsApp message.
This wouldn't be the first time UiTM hosted a racially- sensitive seminar.
On 6 May 2014, the university chaired a seminar that discussed heavily about the threats of Christianity and even argued that the Christian gospel is a "fake gospel".
When contacted by Malay Mail Online, Malacca UiTM's corporate communications chief Siti Najah Raihan Sakrani, explained that the seminar was just held to strengthen the faith of Muslim students
Malacca UiTM corporate communications chief Siti Najah Raihan Sakrani confirmed the seminar took place when contacted by Malay Mail Online today, but said the programme was aimed at strengthening the faith of Muslim students.
“The programme was for Muslim students and non-Muslim students were exempted because we did not want to create a controversy, where we might be accused of trying to convert them to Islam,” Siti Najah told Malay Mail Online.
“The programme touched on a few current issues and history, including the IS [Islamic State] threat, Shiahs, terrorism and the Crusades,” she added, without elaborating on what was taught about the so-called Christianisation movement.
The senior Islamic affairs officer from Malacca UiTM’s Academy of Contemporary Islamic Studies (ACIS) ustazah Kalthom Mohd Khalid was apparently the organiser of the seminar
While speaking to Malay Mail Online, a participant that attended the seminar also clarified that ustazah Kalthom Mohd Khalid was merely the organiser and that she did not speak at the seminar.themalaymailonline.com
Slamming UiTM for hosting the seminar, DAP's Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud thinks that the university condones religious activities that aims to incite hatred among Malaysians
DAP's Dyana also wants action to be taken against Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) for holding an anti-Christian seminar over the weekend, questioning if it made sense to belittle the religion just to strengthen the faith of Muslims.
The former Teluk Intan by-election candidate also questioned why there had been no action against the university for holding a similar seminar on May 6 last year.
"The seminars clearly prove that UiTM is allowing religious provocation with the intention to sow hatred among Malaysians. How would Muslims feel if a similar anti-Islam seminar was held at an institution of higher learning?" Dyana asked in a statement today.
Dyana urged Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and the ministry to monitor religious phobia activities and stop it from taking place in public universities.
Lawyer Annou Xavier, who represented the duo that made the complaints against the seminar held last year, stressed that the authorities must take actions against the organisers, especially after the anti-Christian program last week
Xavier, who represented the two individuals who lodged the reports in Shah Alam, said police took eight to nine months to investigate, following which the Attorney-General's Chambers directed that the file be kept open.
"Basically, the file has not been closed, but no one is going to be charged for now. The file is under KIV (keep in view), until such a seminar is organised by UiTM again," Xavier had said at the Shah Alam district police headquarters in February.
He said the recurrence of such a seminar in an institute of higher learning clearly showed that Islamic radicalism is recognised by such an institution and supported by the authorities.
"Time and time again, the patience of the Christian community is tested to the hilt and vilifying minority religions in Malaysia seems to be a norm. All Christians will not sit quiet after this anti-Christian seminar and will pursue this matter with the police and AGC," he added.
While we are on the topic of religion, read this riveting interview with two young Malaysians on what they think about Islam and Christianity in Malaysia:
While some choose to be engulfed in activities laced with religious undertones, these Malaysian youths are focused on proving that we will always be Malaysians first: