‘Insulting’ to claim Muslims can be confused by Taoist shrine, Islamic groups say

Two Islamic organisations said that Muslims had been belittled by the claim that followers of Islam may be confused by the Taoist shrine in Armenian Park, Penang. ― Picture by KE Ooi
Two Islamic organisations said that Muslims had been belittled by the claim that followers of Islam may be confused by the Taoist shrine in Armenian Park, Penang. ― Picture by KE Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 — A Penang Umno leader’s claim that Muslims may be confused by a Taoist shrine in a public park belittled followers of Islam, said two Islamic organisations today.

Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) chairman Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa said while it may be acceptable to propose shifting the shrine over cultural or aesthetic reasons, it was untenable to do so on religious grounds.

“It is totally absurd that Muslims will be confused by the existence of other people’s worship house. Suggesting so was an insult to to the Islamic faith and demeaning in nature,” he told Malay Mail Online.

Sisters in Islam (SIS) communications officer Aliah Ali also challenged the Umno leader’s assertion that Muslims could be confused.

“We always tout Malaysia as a multicultural country, so we have to live up to that by practicing acceptance and understanding of other people’s faiths just like how non-Muslims have displayed acceptance and understanding for Muslims majority in Malaysia,” Aliah told Malay Mail Online.

On Friday, Penang Opposition Leader Datuk Jahara Hamid of Umno reportedly suggested that the Datuk Kong shrine in Armenian Park could confuse Muslims due to its public location.

The remark drew criticism from both friend and foe, with Barisan Nasional partner MCA issuing a rebuke to Jahara.

Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim of the pro-moderation group G25 today said Jahara’s call reeked of bigotry, and that non-Muslims have the right to worship according to their faith.

“Asking the shrines to be removed reflects religious intolerance,” he said.

Jahara today insisted that she did not ask for the shrine to be removed or demolished, saying she only said that it should be sectioned off from the rest of the part.

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