After raid, BSM urges for calm and forgiveness from Christians

A picture of the Al-Kitab, a Malay translation of the Bible. — Picture by Choo Choy May
A picture of the Al-Kitab, a Malay translation of the Bible. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 2 — Fresh from this afternoon’s run-in with Selangor’s religious authorities over the “Allah” controversy, the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) has urged for calm and forgiveness from Christians until the matter is ironed out by the authorities.

In a statement here, the Christian society said it was “deeply shocked” by the raid on is premises and seizure of the Iban and Malay language bibles but told Christians not to respond violently to the incident.

“BSM also calls upon the Christian community to remain calm and to display their best Christian character and virtues of love and forgiveness in this situation, while praying for those responsible for the care of the nation to do their utmost to preserve the peace that Malaysians have enjoyed all these decades,” it said in a brief statement here.

Earlier today, the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) BSM’s premises in Petaling Jaya, seized copies of both the Malay-language and Iban bibles that contain the word “Allah”, and and arrested two BSM officials.

BSM executive council member Nic Ng told The Malay Mail Online that a team of about 20 people including police officers and officials from the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) had demanded entry to the premises despite not bearing a warrant.

“I told the staff not to let them in because Jais has no authority over non-Muslims, but they insisted,” said Ng.

Ng said that the BSM workers were forced to allow the team entry after they allegedly threatened to break down the door.

“They took at least 321 copies of the Al-Kitab, which contains the word “Allah”,and they took 16 copies of the Iban bible, the Bup Kudus. In Iban, the word for God is “Allah Ta’ala.”

“Bible Society is the one that imports and prints and distributes Malay bibles to Sabah and Sarawak,” he added.

Ng said that the police then told BSM president Lee Min Choon and general-secretary Dr Simon Wong to follow them to the Damansara police station.

At the police station, Lee said that he and BSM officmanager Sinclair Wong were arrested under the Selangor Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988 that prohibits non-Muslims in Selangor from using 35 Arabic words and phrases, including the word for God, “Allah”.

“We hope the federal government will liaise with Jais to resolve this issue,” Lee told reporters, citing the Najib administration’s 10-point solution that was issued in 2011.

“The agreement was that Christians will be allowed to use the Al-Kitab in East Malaysia without any conditions, while in West Malaysia, it must be stamped with an image of the cross and the words ‘Penerbitan Kristian’ (Christian Publication,” he added.

The bible distributor pointed out that all of BSM’s Malay bibles are imprinted with a picture of the cross and the words “Penerbitan Kristian” on the cover and noted that the Home Ministry regularly inspects its bible shipment imports.

Jais’ raid comes after its newly-appointed director, Ahmad Zaharin Mohd Saad, said last Thursday that letters will be sent to all churches in Selangor to ask them to comply with the Selangor 1988 enactment.