KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — Malaysia's religious harmony is at risk if public universities continue holding seminars by non-Christians to educate Muslims on Christianity, the country's leading evangelical church group said today.
In a strongly-worded statement, the National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF) voiced its horror that Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) was allowed to hold a seminar yesterday by Indonesian Muslims to interpret Christian doctrine, branding the programme “negative” and a threat to the peaceful co-existence and harmony of diverse religions.
“If such programmes are permitted to run in other higher institutions of learning in the days ahead, it will only raise confusion and a sense of prejudice among Muslim students against people of other faiths,” NECF said.
“One could perhaps ask how Muslims would feel, if followers of other faiths were to invite their experts to interpret how the Koran should be written,” it added.
The church group said institutions of higher learning should instead promote mutual understanding and acceptance, observing that the UiTM seminar was “grossly” insensitive and ran counter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's policy to promote inclusivity.
At the day-long seminar in its Shah Alam campus yesterday, UiTM had invited several Indonesian Muslims, academics and converts, to lecture on the use of the Arabic word for God, “Allah”, in the Malay archipelago and their interpretation on the life of Jesus Christ, whom Christians revere as God manifest on earth.
A speaker told the thousand-strong audience — which included former prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi — that the New Testament gospels, which recount the life of Jesus, were falsehoods as the prophet was only “a human slave to Allah” and not a divine being.
Another said that Christians should convert to Islam as they would be “betraying Jesus” and his principles otherwise.
The speakers also saluted Malaysia for banning Christians here from using the word “Allah” in their worship, even as the world casts a spotlight on the rights of religious minorities in the region with Southeast Asian nations adopting increasingly fundamental Islamic principles in their governments.
The oil-rich sultanate of Brunei sparked worldwide criticism with its roll-out of hudud this month.