KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 ― The church at the centre of a sensitive religious row between Christians and Muslims here has been operating illegally as a place of worship and does not have any permit to hang a cross on its facade.
According to The Star Online, the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) confirmed this after a three-hour check on its licensing data for businesses in the area.
The news portal quoted MBPJ public relations officer Zainun Zakaria as saying the shoplot that the church occupies “does not have a license to operate as a church”.
However, the council officer also confirmed that the church could submit an application for such a license.
“Shoplots that are converted into places of worship or meditation centres must comply to Act 133 Section 70(12) and a written application with the activities described must be submitted for approval. We need these compliance as to ensure safety of the people using the building,” she was quoted as saying.
Zainun also said that the church must apply for a permit to display any logo or symbol on its facade.
“Be it a lotus, trident or a cross, a council permit is needed,” she said according to The Star Online.
Yesterday, Umno branch leader Datuk Abdullah Abu Bakar confirmed that the Muslims who staged the cross protest on Sunday want to contest the legality of the church that had put it up.
The Muslims, who are said to be residents of Muslim-majority Taman Medan in Petaling Jaya, had staged a demonstration outside the church building on Sunday morning, claiming its display of the cross is a challenge to Muslims and could influence the young.
Their action sparked public outrage and several opposition lawmakers immediately demanded that the police take immediate action against the protestors.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said yesterday, however, that the protestors had not violated any law by staging the demonstration.
He was later contradicted by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who said the protest was seditious and warrants a probe.