Muslim Protestors....made protest in front of Taman Medan Church due to fear of Cross
We are disturbed, and saddened, by the protest by a group of people on Sunday, 19 April 2015, at Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, against a church which has been in operation since August 2014. It was also reported that the protestors had demanded that the cross be removed from the church because it was perceived as “challenging Islam” in the predominantly-Muslim neighbourhood.
We are disturbed, because we believe that this latest episode of religious tension is a symptom of the deterioration of religious harmony in Malaysia. Never before has our multi-racial and religiously diverse nation faced so much anger and intolerance.
Yet, at the same time, we still maintain our conviction that such hatred and provocative actions by a handful of extremists are certainly not representative of the Malaysian society as a whole, and that the overwhelming majority of our Muslim brothers and sisters strongly uphold the true Islamic value of respect and tolerance towards other religions and their places of worship.
It goes without saying that it is the constitutional duty of the authority to guarantee that non-Muslims could practice their religions in peace and harmony (Article 3(1) of the Federal Constitution). Such duty extends to protect not just the many in a cathedral, but also every small congregation of the few – Indeed, especially the small congregations of the few.
Rather, we believe that the government also has a greater and more onerous, moral duty to foster greater understanding among all Malaysians. Incidents such as this usually stem from ignorance, and ignorance breeds hatred.
We also said that we are saddened – by the ignorance. Christians believe that our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. Therefore, the cross actually reminds us of the love and mercy of God – not a challenge to anybody, and
certainly not to Islam.
Therefore, the cross is also a symbol of humility and forgiveness, and could and should never be conceived as a challenge or provocation in any way, shape or form.
The fact that the true meaning of the sacred symbol of our Christian faith could be distorted in this manner, shows just how deeply the mistrust and misunderstanding have developed among us. This – above everything else in this unfortunate episode – truly fills our hearts with sorrow.
We therefore believe that it is counter-productive to penalize ignorance with the law. Humiliation would only breed more hatred. Rather, we trust that if the protestors were to understand the true meaning of the cross – regardless of whether they agree with the rest of the Christian faith or not – they would not perceive it as anything other than a symbol of the love and mercy of God.
Unity in diversity is not a dream in Malaysia – it is a reality, and always has been. That does not mean that it is easy, or else the Malaysian story would not be as beautiful and meaningful as it is. Let us look forward to more dialogues to foster genuine understanding with our fellow Malaysians.
REV.DATUK JERRY DUSING
(President of Sabah Council of Churches)