SHAH ALAM, May 16 — The police should hold nothing back in investigating the organisers of a “Christology” seminar hosted by Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) last week, two complainants said today, claiming the event was an open attack on Christians and their faith.
Authors Perzeus James and Uthaya Sankar SB, who lodged separate police reports against the seminar organisers on May 8, said it was unacceptable for the Selangor Islamic Council (Mais) and UiTM to co-organise such an event that raised nothing but unverified allegations against Christians in Malaysia.
Perzeus, who has published works in Tamil, said he felt “humiliated” after reading the numerous media reports on the day-long seminar last May 6.
“If we keep quiet, we don’t know what may happen in future. I lodged this report because as a Catholic and a Malaysian, it is my responsibility to do this,” he said after spending over an hour giving his statement to an investigating officer at the Shah Alam police station.
Uthaya Sankar, a Hindu and self-professed proponent of religious pluralism, said it was shocking that two institutions that should be more responsible in their public conduct had sanctioned such deplorable behaviour put on display at the seminar.
The award-winning Malay writer and independent publisher, who also spent over an hour giving a statement separately to the police, said it was clearly wrong for Mais and UiTM to have organised a “Christian bashing” event that gave no room for Christians to give their side of the story.
Lawyer Annou Xavier, who together with Bernard Scott acted as legal counsel to the two complainants, said his clients were waiting for the police to complete their investigations before deciding on taking up legal action against the seminar organisers.
“We will wait for the outcome of the investigation before considering our next move,” he said, adding that over 10 police reports have been lodged nationwide.
The Malay Mail Online understands the police are investigating the case under Sections 298 and 298A of the Penal Code, which deal with words uttered with deliberate intent to wound the religious feelings of any person.
At the day-long seminar in its Shah Alam campus last week, 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 hearsay and 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 lecture also takes place against the backdrop of strained ties between Muslims and Christians over the use of the Arabic word “Allah”.
Last year, the Court of Appeal overturned a lower court’s decision to allow a Catholic newspaper to use the word. The appellate court ruled that “Allah” was not an integral part of Christianity.
The Catholic church is looking to appeal the decision at the country’s highest court.