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Archbishop turns ‘the other cheek’ on Bible issue

 | December 13, 2014

Release of seized Bibles in the presence of the Selangor Sultan was supposed to be a demonstration of the “muhibbah” (goodwill) spirit.

kitab stamp2KUCHING: The Association of Churches in Sarawak (ACS) may be courting controversy anew by implying in a “turn the other cheek” statement on Saturday that the religious authorities in Selangor “probably did not mean it and/or did not realize what they were doing” when they desecrated and defaced 351 copies of the Bible in Malay and Iban.

The ACS statement was referring to the Bibles which were seized from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) in Petaling Jaya earlier this year, as a threat to Islam, and released only recently for shipment to Sarawak, their intended destination.

ACS chairman Archbishop Rev Bolly Lapok, in a media update, pointed out that the release of the seized Bibles in the presence of the Selangor Sultan, was supposed to be a demonstration of the “muhibbah” (goodwill) spirit.

“In this holy season of Christmas, when Christians celebrate God’s ultimate generosity to mankind, let us rejoice that this matter has been settled,” said the ACS chairman, and Archbishop of the Anglican Church in Southeast Asia, in a statement. “Let us go forward together to build a future, for our nation, which embodies unity, peace and hope.”

“Change is necessary as nations grow and develop. The process must involve continuing dialogue and have it conducted in a manner which affirms mutual learning and respect i.e. the principle of muhibbah.”

BSM president Ng Moon Hing has since demanded, in no uncertain terms, an explanation and apology from religious authorities in Selangor for desecrating and defacing the Bibles.

The Selangor Sultan subsequently took to the media to claim that the Bibles were stamped with a “for non-Muslims only” warning in English and Malay to keep them out of Selangor. He explained that Bibles carrying the Arabic word “Allah” were an offence under the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 that prohibits non-Muslims from referring to God as “Allah”.

Malaysia is the only country in the world that claims that “Allah” is exclusive to Muslims and has been condemned by Islamic scholars in Iran, the Middle East, Pakistan, Indonesia, and in the West for this stand.

Besides Christians using the Malay, Iban and other Orang Asal languages in Sabah and Sarawak and Arabic, among others, the Sikhs too use “Allah” as their term for God in their Holy Book and scriptures.


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