PETALING JAYA, Nov 2 — Some 70 local residents and members of a non-governmental organisation (NGO) protested against the construction of a church, claiming the growing number of Christian places of worship in the area is part of an attempt to evangelise and convert Muslims to Christianity.
The Petaling chapter of Pertubuhan Sahabat — the NGO which organised the demonstration this morning — said that there are three churches in the vicinity, although close to 70 per cent of the residents in the area are Muslims and predominantly Malay.
The NGO’s spokesman Ishak Maarof instead suggested that the land should have been delineated for the construction of a Hindu temple, claiming that some 25 per cent of the area’s residents were Hindus.
“I resided on this plot when it was a squatter area... but we moved when they wanted to build a place of worship. We gave way because we thought it was for a temple... I can’t believe they demolished our homes and stalls just to build another church,” Ishak told the crowd in the sweltering heat.
“Even before the church is built, flyers on Christianity have been distributed to our homes, and this could confuse our children and divert them from the path of Islam,” he said.
The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) approved the construction of a four-storey church in the vacant plot of land — which was set aside for the construction of a non-Muslim place of worship — opposite the Mentari Court and Damai apartment complexes in 2012.
The vacant plot was previously occupied by squatters, a car park and several food stalls.
“Aren’t those three churches enough to cater to the Christians... only some of the Indonesians here are Christians as far as we know,” said a Damai Apartment resident Norhafiza Hassan, 42, who joined the demonstration which kicked off at 9.30am today.
Norhafiza said that the existing churches often organised charity events and distributed free food — which she claimed were part of the church’s evangelistic activities.
“They use the free food to entice our children,” she told reporters.
This is the third such protest by the area’s residents and the NGO since August.
Ishak added that their Seri Setia constituency assemblyman Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and MBPJ had both turned a deaf ear to their concerns.
“None of our neighbours are Christians, we can vouch for that... it is an insult to Muslims to allow a church to be built here, but none of our representatives seem to have the time to listen to us,” he complained.
There were no cops visibly stationed in the area at the time; however, a passing patrol car instructed Pertubuhan Sahabat to end their demonstration at 11.30am.
As Ishak was speaking to reporters, one demonstrator began hurling large rocks at the temporary steel fence around the vacant plot.
“Let’s show them how serious we are... let’s tear down this fence,” he shouted.
However, his calls went unheeded as the crowd began to disperse at around 11.30am.
Ishak added that the NGO would be handing its memorandum to the city council and Nik Nazmi as soon as possible.