Christians demand release of banned Malay bibles
November 09 2009
Bishop Ng Moon Hing
The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) says everyone has the constitutional right to use the national language to practice his or her religion.
"It is baseless to withhold the bibles in Bahasa Malaysia (the national language) on the grounds that they are ´prejudicial to public order,´" the CFM said in a Nov. 4 statement.
The use of the word "Allah" in Christian publications is also likely to confuse Muslims and draw them to Christianity, the government has said, although repeated media requests for further comment have failed.
"Bibles in Bahasa Malaysia have been used since before independence ... and have never been the cause of any public disorder," the CFM statement says.
Despite the government ban, "Allah" remains the commonly used word for God in the Malay language.
The constitution "gives every Malaysian the right to profess his or her faith as well as to practice it," says the CFM statement, signed by its chairman, Bishop Ng Moon Hing. The bishop is head of the Anglican Diocese of West Malaysia.
Most of the seized bibles are destined for the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak, where Malay is the most widely used language.
The CFM, based in Petaling Jaya, just outside Kuala Lumpur, represents the Catholic Church, the Council of Churches of Malaysia, and the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship Malaysia.
It demands the authorities "resolve this matter promptly and release these bibles for the use of Christians without further delay or excuse."
The CFM also raised the ban issue at an Oct. 29 meeting with the Sabah Council of Churches in Kota Kinabalu, capital of the easternmost state.
The seizures have added to fears among minority groups that Islamic fundamentalism is gaining a grip in the predominantly Muslim but multi-racial country.
There are around 2 million Christians -- 9 percent of the population -- in Malaysia. Around a third of them live in Sabah, another third in Sarawak and another third in peninsular Malaysia.
Church leaders, civil society groups lauded for working with police instead of criticizing the government's anti-drugs campaign
Values are being challenged in the face of increased pollution and environmental degradation
The clarion call for Sri Lanka to become a secular state does not mean that Buddhist religious sentiments are betrayed
Mob in central Indian state of Chhattisgarh accused Christians of indulging in illegal conversion activities
Pope Francis sends some 90 representatives from 30 countries congratulatory message