Dzulkefly said Perkasa is stoking religious sensitivities.
PETALING JAYA, Aug 22 (www.themalaymailonline.com)Perkasa has a right to protest the Catholic Church’s court claim to “Allah” but the authorities must clamp down on the hardline Malay-Muslim group for fanning religious flames, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) representatives said.
PAS research centre executive director Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad accused Perkasa of being the pack leader in stoking religious sensitivities.
“Religious antagonism has always been a hallmark of Malaysian politics from time immemorial. Of late it has only gotten worse. Politicians from both divides [sic] are all too willing to draw swords at the slightest provocation,” he said in a text message to The Malay Mail Online earlier this week.
“I don’t know when and how all these [sic] bigotry will end… but Perkasa, more than others, must be held responsible for heightening religious tension,” the Islamist party leader said.
The “Allah” issue returns to the legal arena today, with the Court of Appeal set to hear the Catholic Church’s application to dismiss the government’s appeal against the landmark High Court ruling in 2009 that “Allah” is not exclusive to Muslims.
Dzulkefly, who is also a PAS central working committee member, conceded that it is within Perkasa’s democratic right to hold a rally, but pointed out that the matter is already under the purview of the courts and should be left to the courts to come to a decision.
“Surely it is their democratic right to demonstrate. But it is also my democratic right to express my conviction that their presence, much less demonstration is neither necessary nor helpful in out nation’s endeavours to have a better Malaysia,” he said.
Surendran also blamed Umno for causing religious flare ups.PKR vice-president N. Surendran echoed Dzulkefly’s sentiments, but cast a wider net of blame to include Umno for allegedly causing religious flare ups.
“It’s their democratic right to demonstrate. However, Perkasa’s bad intention is to create religious tension for political purposes,” the Padang Serai MP said.
“Umno must take responsibility as they are Perkasa’s main backers and Mahathir is its patron,” Surendran added, referring to former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who still wields great influence within the three million strong Malay political party.
DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke accused Perkasa of purposely raising religious tension to apply pressure on the court process.
“It’s an irresponsible act on their part. This issue is involving religious sensitivities, and I think all parties should let the court decide objectively without giving any undue pressure,” he said.
The “Allah” row erupted in 2008 when the Home Ministry threatened to revoke Catholic paper Herald’s newspaper permit, prompting the Church to sue the government for violating its constitutional rights.
The 2009 High Court decision that upheld the Catholic Church’s constitutional right to use the word “Allah” had shocked Muslims who considered the word to only refer to the Muslim God.
It also led to Malaysia’s worst religious strife, with houses of worship throughout the country coming under attack.
Christians are Malaysia’s third-largest religious population at 2.6 million people, according to statistics from the 2010 census, behind Muslims and Buddhists.