Police warn Selangor Umno against holding protests outside churches
Lee Choon Fai and Elly Fazaniza
PETALING JAYA (Jan 2, 2014): Police today warned of stern action should Selangor Umno follow through on its threat to protest in front of churches on Sunday, as it will contravene the Peaceful Assembly Act (PAA).
“We will take stern action,” state police chief Datuk Mohd Shukri Dahlan said in a text message totheSun today.
Selangor Umno had threatened to hold the protests unless a senior Catholic priest apologises for insisting that Christians can use the word “Allah”.
Gombak Umno chief Abdul Rahim Kamarudin was quoted by Utusan Malaysia on Wednesday as saying the party will stage protests if Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of Catholic weeklyHerald, does not withdraw his statement by Saturday.
Lawrence had said in a statement published on a web portal on Dec 27 that the word “Allah” would be used in all churches in Selangor.
Selangor Umno liaison committee deputy chairman Datuk Abdul Shukor Idrus said that Lawrence’s remark was in defiance of the Sultan of Selangor’s decree prohibiting non-Muslims in the state from using the word “Allah” in reference to God.
Meanwhile, in the wake of numerous reports lodged against Lawrence, Mohd Shukri said police will be recording a statement from the priest.
“It is standard operating procedure,” he told reporters.
He said the date to record the statement had yet to be set, but police will consult the Selangor Islamic Religious Council first on the matter.
Mohd Shukri advised all quarters not to get overly emotional on matters pertaining to religious and racial issues, as this would undermine community harmony.
Meanwhile, some Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat leaders lambasted those making the protest threat and instead called for more interfaith dialogue.
“This is a sensitive issue. It is best all parties put their emotions and sentiments aside from this topic and discuss it rationally for the good of the country,” said Umno Titiwangsa MP Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani.
PAS Parit Buntar MP Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa echoed the same sentiment, saying “threats have never been the bridge of interfaith relationship”.
“This should be based on mutual respect and maintaining a peaceful co-existence. (Only) dialogues and understanding within the context of law and order should prevail … not threats,” he said.
Mujahid, who is also PAS national unity bureau chief, said antagonising members of other faiths, especially at places of worship, is not only unbecoming but also goes against the principles of every religion.
PAS Research Centre executive director Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the act of protesting at places of worship will not help in the cause and urged for mutual respect among respective religions.