Buddhist monk asks PM to hold talks with religious leaders

Sumana expressed bafflement over the federal government’s differing policies on use of the word Allah, questioning the approval given to Sabah and Sarawak but blocking its utterance in the peninsula.

Malaysia
Jan 09 2014, 6:51 PM
Buddhist monk asks PM to hold talks with religious leaders
Buddhist monk Reverend Sumana Siri.

Buddhist monk Reverend Sumana Siri on Tuesday urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razakto convene a dialogue with all religious leaders to allay anxieties of Malaysians following the latest flare-up over Christians using the word ‘Allah’.

Some Muslim groups had last Sunday declared war on Father Lawrence Andrew, editor of Catholic weekly Herald, blaming him for provoking tensions.

They were offended by the priest’s reported remarks that churches would continue to use the word Allah in worship as the Federal Constitution guaranteed freedom for religious adherents to practise their faith in peace and harmony.

Sumana Siri, chief monk of the Malaysian and Singaporean International Buddhist Cultural Organisation, pleaded with the prime minister to ensure the tussle between Muslims and Christians do not spread.

“He should have a dialogue session for all religious leaders and community heads to resolve this issue,” Sumana said.

The monk noted that the PM was silent in the wake of a raid by Selangor’s Islamic religious enforcers on a bible supplier in Petaling Jaya last week. “The crackdown may now be confined to the Christian faith but there are fears that this could spread and affect other faiths too,” he said.

Sumana pleaded with the prime minister to take action to douse the sparks before it spirals out of control.

The Buddhist monk noted that five Malaysian states, including Johor and Perak, featured the word “Allah” as part of the lyrics in their anthems and questioned if non-Muslims were wrong to sing the songs.

“If the word can’t be used by others, then why non-Muslims are also singing these anthems with the word Allah in it?” he asked.

Sumana expressed bafflement over the federal government’s differing policies on use of the word Allah, questioning the approval given to Sabah and Sarawak but blocking its utterance in the peninsula.

“How can it be one Malaysia if there are two different sets of laws, one for East Malaysia and one for the peninsular?” he asked.

“The word ‘Allah’ predated Islam, and non-Muslims in the Middle East were not banned from using the word and in fact, ‘Allah’ was featured in Malay-language bibles that dated back to 1612, which is more than 400 years ago,” he said.

Source: The Malay Mail Online

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