Perkasa president Ibrahim Ali recently made a Bible-burning remark in response to police reports lodged by Persatuan Mukabuku Pulau Pinang pertaining copies of Malay translated ibles purportedly distributed by two men to Muslim students outside a school in Jelutong, Penang.
On January 22, pastor Rev John Kennady of the St Marks Anglican Church, Butterworth, Penang, found a notice in his church’s post box, stating that there would be a ‘Bible burning festival’ on January 27, 2013 at 10.00am.
Rev John duly informed chairman of the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) Rev Bishop Ng Moon Hing of the ‘plan’.
Bishop Ng told Citizen Journalists Malaysia (CJMY), “I immediately informed all the CFM exco members and instructed Rev Kennady to lodge a police report.
“The scanned notice has no name of any person or group or organisation.
“We do not take such incident lightly and are also not sure whether it is a hoax or a joke or something serious,” he said.
Muslims call for respect
Lias My, a 70 years old retiree said that it is unwise not to respect another person’s religion, and ‘burning’ for sure means disrespect.
“I believe that being human living in this Allah SWT world, we should be at peace with everyone, and I maintain that a respect for another will earn a respect for yourself.
“Even the Al-Quraan says so,” he said.
He proceeded to quote a few verses from the Quran, taken from Sorah Al-Kafiroon ( The Disbelievers ) – Verses Number 6 to justify what he said.
President of Women for Equality Association Haslinah Yacob, 52, quote from the Quran.
“The call for bible-burning is definitely a despicable act on the part of the instigator.
“As Muslims, we are to respect other people’s faith as revealed in Surah AlKafirun verse 106 ‘to you is your system, and to me is mine.
“Also, as Muslims, we should not condone acts of violation and speak our minds,” she said.
“Part of the Bible is divine, for the Muslims too, as we believe that Jesus is a Messenger from God, so when they call for the burning of bible, aren’t they disrespecting Jesus?
She went on to question how did the Muslims feel after the Bible-burning controversy in America?
“Surely the Christians would feel the same way, so why are we being insensitive to the sentiments of other people’s faith?” she questioned.
Social activist Masjaliza Hamzah, 45, was quick to distance herself from Ibrahim Ali.
She said “As a Muslim who has little in common with Ibrahim Ali, I think these are digression tactics.
“Some people are trying to stir unrest because BN may not retain the majority in GE13, and they are fomenting hatred and sowing discord, hoping that ‘Malays’ will feel threatened and return and vote for UMNO.
“Let’s prove them wrong as we stand united and respectful of each other’s beliefs and as equally important, reject supremacist politics at the ballot box, ” she said.
Masjaliza hope that Penangites from various faith traditions will have a large-scale interfaith gathering at the same time as the purported call for the Bible-burning festival.
This, according to her, will counter religious upheaval with compassion and mutual respect.”
Ineza Roussille, 25, filmmaker said “book burning, like book banning, is always a product of pure ignorance.
“No religion advocates the destruction of holy scriptures and it is a source of constant shame that the likes of Ibrahim Ali continue to spew vitriol with little to no repercussions.
“He does not speak for Muslims, certainly not for me,” she stressed.
Another Muslim, 33, lecturer who claims to be apolitical and requested anonymity said “I have always believed that emotional attachment to any religion results in inconsiderate atrocities of the worst kind.
“Maybe Muslims and Christians should have a common activity like burning a playboy magazine with the word Satan in it,” he said light-heartedly.
While many Christians remain relatively calm about Bible-burning threats, some have voiced their opinions on the rights of those in rural Sabah and Sarawak.
He said, “No human being has that absolute right or mandated by God to dictate and decide on behalf of God on how God should be address.
He said that the Christians in Sabah and Sarawak particularly from the rural corners have been using the word ‘Allah’ well before the existence of Malaysia.
“It wasn’t an issue then and shouldn’t be an issue now.
“Barring them from using it now tantamount to saying that ‘Allah’ may have been your God before, but it is mine now,” he said.
How then are the Christians in Sabah and Sarawak supposed to perceived this, he questioned.
While some find Ibrahim Ali’s remark highly seditious, some are questioning the silence on the part of Prime Minister Najib Razak.
“Some people are trying to stir up trouble between Christians and Muslims,” said Marcel Fernandez, 62, a dentist in private practice.
“They are hoping to provoke the Christians into retaliating in some way and then paint the Christians as anti-Islam,” he said.
Migrant Officer Sudhagaran Stanley felt that Ibrahim Ali had gone overboard this time and wonder why the authorities had not taken swift action against him.
“The government in not taking any action against Ibrahim Ali, just tells us that the 1Malaysia slogan is all meaningless.
“The government is not serious in protecting the rights of non-Muslims.
“Imagine if a Christian called for the burning of Quran – what would then happen?”
“I also hope Pakatan Rakyat will take a strong stand to condemn the call of bible burning,” he said.
Christian motivational speaker Martin Jalleh, 57, felt that Ibrahim Ali’s urging to Muslim to burn the bible is undoubtedly irresponsible.
“It does not surprise me what this man is capable of seditious and shocking statements.
“He knows he is allowed to make provocative statements, for he is well protected,” Martin said.
“Can the public be blamed for suspecting that he has the blessings of those in power, when to date none amongst the Muslim authorities and government has condemned or censured him on his latest barrage?”
Martin asked what happened to the Prime Minister’s assurance to Christians at the last Christmas open house when he told the Christians he is the ‘Prime Minister for all’.
Doctor Chris Anthony , 60, said that the remark deserves contempt.
“The burning of the Bible or any sacred document of any faith is a despicable act of those who are not brave to engage in civil dialogue to settle their disputes amicably as their religion teaches.”
Christians called to remain calm
Rev Joseph Stephen said that he felt very sad like many others oh why the authorities have not said or do anything about Ibrahim Ali’s Bible-burning remark.
He hopes that Chrisitans will be calm and not do anything irrational.
“It is not a time for irrational acts but to discern and make a communal decision to defend our beliefs and stand by our right to and follow our conscience,” he said.
Fr Martin Arlando told CJMY “We are a peaceful community and have always held on to respect other religions,” another .
“Therefore each and every single one of us has the responsibility to do so.
“Why do certain quarters want to take matters into their own hands?
“How will Bible-burning resolve anything?
“By doing so they are in direct violation of our country’s Rukun Negara.
Catholic priest and editor of The Herald Fr Lawrence Andrew said in an email
” There is enough matter on this issue in our news portals.
“We as Malaysians know from young to respect the elders and others as well as their cultural practises.
“We have lived in this manner for more than 50 years without any hindrance and have enjoyed the peace our nation by living courteously with our neighbours.
“So today when we hear of people inciting others to do things that are against the accepted norm of our nation we wonder aloud about this negative and destructive change that is ruining the fabric of our peace loving society.
“Although the provocations are limited and spring from a small group of people, they nevertheless disturb the peace of our nation.
“We pray that sensible thinking will prevail.
He went on to explain that the issue was resolved by the prime minister’s 10-step solution provided in 2011 on the usage of the word “Allah” in Malay translated Bibles.
“Our Prime Minister has said that Alkitab could be imported into the country as well as have them printed here,” said Lawrence.