Sarawak leader demands probe into covert bid to convert Christian students

Masing suspected the programme, held every Saturday since March 8, was a covert attempt to convert the students.

Malaysia
May 15 2014, 2:22 PM
Sarawak leader demands probe into covert bid to convert Christian students
Sarawak's Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing.

Sarawak's Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing yesterday demanded that the state Education Department investigate how a Muslim NGO could conduct a ‘dubious programme’ at proselytising non-Muslim students in a school.

The students from SMK Balai Ringin, a school situated about 65km from Kuching, were said to have been placed under an "Anak Angkat" (adoption) programme run by the NGO.

The parents had complained that the programme, attended by mostly non-Muslim students, had all its talks conducted by “ustaz” (religious teachers), who talked about Islamic religious matters to Christian students.

Masing suspected the programme, held every Saturday since March 8, was a covert attempt to convert the students.

“How could religious topics like the difference between 'air zamzam' which Muslims believe in and the holy water Christians believe in, and questioning the sainthood of Mother Teresa, be discussed?” Masing asked.

"Since the school principal was not even aware of the programme in the school, I assume the programme is not sanctioned by the school or the education department,” Masing said after meeting a group of concerned parents.

Masing also demanded the Public Service Commission investigate allegations by the students' parents that two teachers from the school had aided the group in conducting the programme.

The students claimed the two teachers had coaxed them to attend the programme under the guise of it being a “co-curriculum” activity.

Masing, who voiced his concerns by the “aggressive attempts” by Islamic groups from the peninsula to proselytise Christians in the state, said such groups are sowing discord among the state's multi-racial and multi-religious society as they have “no respect for other people's religious belief”.

“They are creating uneasiness in Sarawak,” he added.

Masing said if non-Muslims could not, by law, attempt to convert Muslims to another religion, on the same token Muslims too should not attempt to convert non-Muslims to Islam.

Last month, Masing had highlighted how Sarawak Christian students attending ‘Mara’ scholarship interviews were asked questions about Islam.

He said the students were asked to name the prophets of Islam, the precepts of Islamic prayers, and their opinion on the controversial hudud (acceptable behaviour and the punishments for serious crimes according to Islam) law, among others.

Subsequently, Mara clarified that non-Muslims attending the interview were to be asked questions on moral issues while promising to investigate the officials who had asked the applicants questions on Islam.

Source: The Malaysian Insider

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