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350 Christian publications siezed by religious authorities in M'sia

Publication Date : 03-01-2014

 

Enforcement officers from the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) and the Malaysian police seized about 350 copies of Christian publications from the premises of the Bible Society of Malaysia in Damansara Kim in Petaling Jaya.

They include copies of the Bible in Bahasa Malaysia, or Al-Kitab (310) and the Iban language, also known as Bup Kudus (10).

The Jais officers also carried away 20 copies of Luke’s Gospel in Bahasa Malaysia.

It is believed the raid pertained to the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 that prohibited the use of the “kalimah Allah” (the word Allah) and other Quranic terms by non-Muslims.

Society president Lee Min Choon and office manager Sinclair Wong were brought to the Damansara Utama police station where their statements were recorded. They left after 90 minutes.

Lee said they were directed to see Jais on January 10, adding that the department was believed to have acted under the 1988 enactment.

Appealing for calm, he called on the federal government to step in to resolve the issue.

He said the Bibles taken by Jais had the crucifix symbol and the words “Christian Publication” printed on the covers, as required under a 10-point government agreement in 2010 on the printing, import and distribution of the Bahasa Malaysia version of the Bible in peninsular Malaysia.

“We hope the federal government will liaise with Jais to resolve this,” said Lee, adding that the authorities were aware of the existence of these Bibles.

He said over the years, the society had been in direct contact with the government, including Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Idris Jala.

“The Bibles were imported and vetted by the home ministry before they were released to us,” said Lee, adding that Malay-speaking Christians should be allowed to read their scriptures in the language.

Bible Society of Malaysia executive council member Nic Ng said their premises was closed for stock taking when the enforcement officers arrived yesterday.

Ng said the staff initially did not allow the officers to enter the premises because they did not have a warrant.

“My staff called me and I also told Jais had no jurisdiction over us,” he said, adding that Lee relented as they did not want the officers to force their way into the premises. After a brief standoff, five officers went in.

Jais director Ahmad Zaharin Mohd Saad said the raid followed an investigation on the society.

“I ask for all parties to give Jais and the police the opportunity and space to carry out further investigations.

“There will not be any more comment,” he said, adding that Jais would issue a statement only if necessary.

“This issue need not be politicised nor blown out of proportion,” said Ahmad Zaharin, who had stated last week that he would be issuing letters to all churches in Selangor to remind them of the enactment.

 

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