It is best Malaysians return to their religion
for the attainment of a hamonious civil society.
A Christian said during the dialogue,” (What we only wish is that) Muslims become good Muslims.” Don’t we all…
UPDATEDBy Adib Zalkapli and G. Manimaran
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — The Pakatan Rakyat (PR) held its first inter-faith dialogue last night and is looking forward to organising more to ease religious tension in the wake of the controversial ‘Allah’ ruling that allowed a Catholic publication to use the term to describe the Christian God.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim chaired the dialogue attended by opposition and religious leaders at a club in Bandar Utama in Petaling Jaya.
“Based on the mood last night, it was a successful meeting and it definitely won’t be the last, we will have it more often, especially in Pakatan states,” said PAS official Dr Shamsuri Mokhtar, who attended the dialogue.
“Some issues fester because lack of understanding, so we want to develop the understanding through such dialogues,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
“Of course we have our differences but we wish to focus on our common ground,” said Shamsuri who is also the political secretary to PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.
He added that among other issues discussed at the dialogue was the use of the word `Allah` by the non-Muslims.
The Islamist party was also represented by Hadi, information chief Idris Ahmad, and central committee members Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad and Hanipa Maidin. More than 100 leaders of religious NGOs attended the dialogue.
The dialogue was held at a time when the country is witnessing an unprecedented religious tension, which saw series of attacks on places of worship after the New Year’s Eve ‘Allah’ ruling that riled the majority Muslims in the country.
PAS has supported the court decision saying that the word has been used extensively by Arab-speaking Christians.
DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang commended the organisers of the dialogue, saying its existence could have avoided the religious problems in the country.
“The Pakatan Rakyat Leadership Council decided on 31st January 2010 to convene tonight’s inter-religious dialogue because we believe that the overwhelming majority of Malaysians from all religions are men and women of good will and good sense who want religion to unite and not divide, to build and not to destroy, the nation,” he said in his closing speech at the dialogue last night.
“But the greatest anomaly is that inter-religious dialogues in the country are not encouraged by the authorities concerned, so much so that Pakatan Rakyat has to take this initiative to organise this historic inter-religious dialogue tonight to address the recent spate of attacks on places of worship of different faiths, which is giving Malaysia such a bad name internationally,” added the Ipoh Timur MP.
One of the religious leaders who attended the dialogue was Catholic weekly The Herald‘s editor, Father Lawrence Andrew (right), who called the dialogue “a way forward for a united Malaysia”.
“All party leaders spoke favourably and Tok Guru Hadi gave a good inclusive perspective for the use of the word Allah by Non-Muslims. I was asked to give our point of view — similar to that of Kota Baru,” he said, referring to an earlier inter-faith meeting in the Kelantan state capital chaired by PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat.
“PR is planning to have more road shows and I think this will have o be the way forward for a United Malaysia! Anwar Ibrahim was there and he ably chaired the meeting,” Andrew added.
PKR deputy president Dr Syed Husin Ali described the dialogue as a success adding that the federal opposition will rely on religious teachings to unite the nation.
“Now certain parties are using religion to divide the people, for us in Pakatan, we hope such dialogues will help us in using religion to unite the people,” said Syed Husin.
He also said that PR will organise such events at district and state levels. “This is part of the outcome of the Pakatan’s inaugural convention,” Syed Husin told The Malaysian Insider.
At the PR convention last December a common policy framework was adopted by the coalition promising among other things the setting up of a commission to address thorny religious issues.