PJ church nixes interfaith ‘buka puasa’ after police report lodged

Syed Azmi Alhabshi confirmed to Malay Mail Online that the Assumption Church, PJ, had cancelled the breaking of fast. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Syed Azmi Alhabshi confirmed to Malay Mail Online that the Assumption Church, PJ, had cancelled the breaking of fast. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, July 1 — A Catholic church in Petaling Jaya has cancelled an interfaith “buka puasa” event scheduled tonight after a complaint was made to the police.

Activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi confirmed to Malay Mail Online that the Assumption Church, PJ, had cancelled the breaking of fast, which had 65 registered guests comprising mostly Muslims and Christians, on its own prerogative as a safety precaution, and that the police did not ask the church to do so.

Earlier today on his Facebook page, Syed Azmi explained that police officers had visited the church to warn it of potential trouble over the planned event in Selangor during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

“Someone made a police report and two police (one Muslim and one Christians) went to the church nicely and explain that tonight there might be an individual or group who would cause trouble.

“Having weighing all options, the church decided to cancel the event. All in good faith,” wrote Syed Azmi, who was consulted by the church on whether it was following Islamic rules by organising the event to break fast with Muslims.

He told Malay Mail Online that the police had notified the church that a report had been lodged and advised the church to be on their guard.

“I think their intention is very nice. Their intention is just to prevent anything (bad) from happening. They didn’t ask to close, they didn’t ask to cancel the event,” he said.

“The decision to cancel was not by the police. It was by the church and organising team itself,” the activist added.

When asked if there was a threat in the police report, Syed Azmi said neither its contents nor complainant was known.

Although the church “believes in good faith that everybody comes with good intention,” they felt there may be some danger and decided to shelve the event for the “safety of the public,” he said.

Event coordinator Fiona Biggs confirmed the cancellation, but declined to say why or to comment on the police report lodged.

“I think it’s best we don’t respond to that. And we just want to respond with friendship and love. We don’t want to ignite or instigate,” the campus youth pastoral worker at the Assumption Church, PJ, told Malay Mail Online when contacted.

Despite the event cancellation, Biggs said the church would still be distributing food that had been ordered for the 65 people who had registered and hoped that at least half would show up to prevent food wastage.

Those who come to collect their food can eat in the church compound if they wish to, Biggs said, adding that the visitors may also take home the prayer mats that the church had prepared for the event.

“It’s just friendship to defuse suspicion and we just want to extend friendship,” she said of the “buka puasa” event, adding that the church has yet to decide if it will hold a similar event in the future.

Assumption Church, PJ, parish priest Father Monsignor Mitchell Joseph Anthony was not available for comment at the time of writing.

In previous Facebook posts, Syed Azmi had publicised the event by the church, also sharing the preparations that it had made including preparing a prayer room with the kiblat sign (sign showing direction towards Mecca) and buying prayer mats for their Muslim friends, ablution area for Muslims to cleanse themselves before praying, as well as ordering halal food.

The Islamic Information Centre in Kuching, Sarawak, on the other hand, had organised last month a successful breaking of fast among Muslims and Christians at a Christian centre that had a cross on the wall.

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