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Fury over 'nefarious video' targeting Malaysian archbishop

Facebook clip accuses Archbishop Julian Leow of spreading anti-Muslim propaganda
Fury over 'nefarious video' targeting Malaysian archbishop

St. Francis Xavier Church in Petaling Jaya, where Archbishop Julian Leow made a speech that is at the center of a row and police complaints about a Facebook video. (Photo: sfx.com)

Published: May 04, 2021 09:59 AM GMT
Updated: May 04, 2021 10:59 AM GMT

Two civil society groups have filed police complaints and many Christians have expressed dismay on social media over a defamatory video on Facebook that targeted Archbishop Julian Leow of Kuala Lumpur, accusing him of spreading anti-Muslim propaganda.

Facebook page Hud Hud Crew last week published a four-minute video that claimed Archbishop Leow insulted Muslims in a speech during his visit to St. Francis Xavier Church in Petaling Jaya in 2014.

The prelate was accused of describing a 25-year plan against Muslims in Malaysia and claimed that he used the analogy of a “boiling frog” to detail the plan to put pressure on Muslims in the country.

The video also alleged that the archbishop had “admitted” that the issue of the use of the word “Allah” was part of the 25-year plan. The use of “Allah” by non-Muslims was banned in Malaysia in 1986 but the ban was overturned by a court on March 10.

The uploader claimed the video was passed to the Hud Hud Crew page by Catholics who wanted to “thwart” Archbishop Leow's plan to create a rift between Muslims and Christians in the country.

The Malay-language video with the hashtag #RebusUmatIslam” or #BoiltheMuslims went viral and sparked angry, racist reactions from Muslims.

The CLS said the video was taken totally out of context, misused and purposely misunderstood for nefarious reasons

Some Muslims even commented that Archbishop Leow must be prosecuted and killed.

However, the original audio clip of Archbishop Leow’s 2014 speech was uploaded on Facebook in which the prelate was seen addressing a Catholic congregation frankly but with no anti-Muslim rhetoric. Instead, he shared “his concerns of minorities in the country while using an analogy of a frog in boiling water to describe the erosion of minority groups' rights in the country,” according to The Star newspaper.

The Catholic Lawyers’ Society (CLS) and North South Initiative (NSI), a non-government organization that promotes human rights, social justice and sustainable development, filed police complaints against the unknown uploader and owner of the Hud Hud Crew page on April 30.

Facebook has taken down the video since then, but it has reportedly been uploaded on other pages.

In a statement on April 27, the CLS said the video was taken totally out of context, misused and purposely misunderstood for nefarious reasons with the intention of threatening the religious harmony and peaceful coexistence enjoyed by the various peoples of different faiths in Malaysia.

“To protect the sanctity of the Catholic Church in Malaysia and for the personal protection of His Grace Archbishop Julian Leow, the CLS calls upon the relevant authorities to investigate the video in question, the owner of the Facebook page and the makers of the incendiary, inflammatory and derogatory statements on the Facebook page in question for sedition, criminal intimidation and criminal defamation,” said the statement signed by CLS president Godfrey Thomas Fernandez.

Adrian Pereira, executive director and co-founder of NSI who lodged the complaint on behalf of the group, said the video was distorted and Archbishop Leow’s speech didn’t have any anti-Muslim content at all.

Pereira claimed the video was malicious, intended to stoke racial unrest and sought to defame Catholic institutions as well as Christians in the country.

In Muslim-majority Malaysia, Christians account for 13 percent of the population, making them the third-largest religious group. Two-thirds of Christians live in two of the country’s 13 states, Sabah and Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, where they make up one third of the population.

A prominent Muslim politician said the text of the New Testament had been corrupted by Christians over time

Anti-Christian sentiment has been common in Malaysia for years.

The decades-long legal battle over the use of “Allah” by Christians made them targets of radical Muslims. In 2010, amid an ongoing court case, Muslim radicals firebombed and vandalized 11 churches in a violent show of protest against the use of “Allah” by non-Muslims.

Earlier this year, during a session in parliament, Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh, a prominent Muslim politician, said the text of the New Testament had been corrupted by Christians over time and so they did not reflect the true teachings of Jesus.

In 2016, Andul Hadi Awang, president of the Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), wrote an article in a PAS-run newspaper accusing Christian missionaries of preying on poor and uneducated people in impoverished communities in Malaysian states like Sabah and elsewhere by paying them off to convert to Christianity.

A controversial book, first published in 2014 and now available in digital format, Pendedahan Agenda Kristian (Exposing the Christian Agenda) by an anonymous author, labels Christians “the enemies of Islam” who harbor ill intentions and spread lies.

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