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[sim] INFO : Muslim NGOs mull pullout from interfaith panel
18 Apr 2011

A Muslim pressure group has threatened pull out of the government’s Committee to Promote Inter-Religious Understanding and Harmony due to the “confrontational attitude” of Christian groups towards the government’s position on the Al Kitab Bibles.
“If they do not use the existing channel and continue to adopt a confrontational approach, we will pull out from the committee,” warned Pembela, which claims to represent 20 Muslim NGOs.
The interfaith committee was established by the Najib administration and was once headed by the late Illani Isahak, who was once the Kota Bharu MP.
Pembela is contesting the use of the Al Kitab because it refers to God as Allah and they argue that the use of the term should be exclusive to Muslims.
“Do they realise that what they had brought up have hurt the feelings of Muslims. The Christian groups should respect the present understanding between the various religions and the Federal constitution.
“This includes a decree declared by the National Fatwa Council, that Allah is only for Muslims and that there is no final decision on the appeal in court regarding its usage,” read the statement.
Apology sought
They also demanded an apology from Christian groups for lodging police reports against the government over the Al Kitab row and issuing kenyataan kasar (strong statements) on the matter, adding that this had hurt the feeling of Muslims.
Pembela is a coalition of 20 NGOs which includes the Muslim Youth Movement (Abim), Pertubuhan Kebajikan Darul Islah Malayisa (Perkida), Malaysian Ulama Association (PUM) and Teras Pengupayaan Melayu (Teras).
The group was formed in 2006, led by Abim, to counter alleged use of applications to declare apostasy in civil courts to reduce the status of Islam such as in the case of Lina Joy.
Pembela was referring to Christian groups condemnation of the attempt by the home ministry to serialise and place a stamp with the words “For Christians Only” on the Al Kitab.
After a flurry of police reports and public statements by Christian groups, the home ministry softened its stand and was willing only wants the word “For Christinity” printed on the Al Kitab.
Pembela warns of ‘uncontrolled reaction’
A Muslim pressure group Pembela has warned that Christian groups not to be “provocative” and adopt a “extreme” position on the government’s treatment of the Al Kitab Bibles.
Among others, Pembela cites numerous police reports on the issue and statements by Christian groups as examples.
“If this is allowed to continue further, we worry it would result in two negative situation. Firstly, the provocation would result in political leaders to be seen as weak and losing their grip.
“Secondly, the continued provocation would result in Muslims feeling to be hurt and cause an uncontrolled reaction which could not be suppressed further,” said Pembela in a statement today.
Pembela adds that it regrets the government decision to use a non-Muslim cabinet minisiter Idris Jala as the government spokesperson on the matter.
“As it involves Muslims and Islam, the statement should be made by Muslims or they should be at the forefront in stating their stand,” they said.
The group said that they will also be sending a special petition to the King and the Conference of Rulers soon to seek their intervention.