February 16, 2014.Rebuffed by keepers of his own faith when he tried to preach at a mosque last month, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was welcomed with open arms at the church of the Holy Family in Kajang after the English and Mandarin masses today. Parish priest Father George Harrison welcomed the opposition leader as “our brother” before he gave the floor to Anwar, who vowed the 1,200-strong crowd with his 25-minute speech on various issues. But it was Anwar’s bold and direct approach to answering the questions from the congregation that impressed the crowd.
When he was asked about his stand on the religious issues currently affecting the country and the rights of Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians to use the word Allah, Anwar said that even international Muslim scholars thought it was a subject unworthy of debate. “When I asked an international scholar about it, he asked me what kind of question that was. “I told him it was Umno’s question, so he explained that Muslims recite five times a day: “Praise be to Allah, Lord of Heaven and Earth. “So, if Allah is Lord for the entire universe, how can there be limitations?” Anwar pointed out. He also stressed that for Umno, the Allah issue was clearly not about faith. “If it was, then their stand must be binding on all. But in this case they are saying Sabah and Sarawak can use the word but not in the peninsula,” Anwar said to loud cheers. He then joked that this meant that a person who boarded a flight from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur will say “Insyallah I’m going to KL” when he gets on the flight but when he lands, he will have to say “Alhamdu Lord”.
Anwar’s meeting of the Catholics at the Holy Family church hall comes amidst religious tension between Muslims and Christians which was reignited last year when the Court of Appeal had ruled in October that the Catholic weekly Herald could not use the word Allah in its publication. The church is appealing the decision. Herald had won a High Court decision in January 2009 that had overturned the Home Ministry’s ban on the use of the word Allah in its publication. The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) further stoked the tension when it raided The Bible Society of Malaysia’s premises in early January and seized more than 300 Bibles, including the Bup Kudus, because they contained the word “Allah”. The term Allah is used by Christians who worship in Bahasa Malaysia and Iban, such as those in Sabah and Sarawak. Two-thirds of Malaysia’s 2.9 million Christians are from Sabah and Sarawak.
Mindful of the possible consequences of his visit to the Holy Family Church, Anwar said if Umno-controlled media would use his church visit against him, they should take note that he had been speaking at churches since his activist days in the Malaysian Islamic Youth Movement (Abim) in the 1970s. He added that he continued giving his views at church events even as a government minister. “So to the Umno-controlled media here, note that I have been going to church, I’m here now, and Insyallah,I will continue to do so.” In an obvious response to critics who had chided him for standing as an assemblyman, after he was once acting prime minister, Anwar admitted that he had gone from one extreme to the other and his experiences would help him. “I was right up there as acting PM and then went to prison, so I’m wiser and have benefited from all my life’s experiences,” he said. Anwar’s visit to the Holy Family church is part of his meet-the-people programme ahead of the Kajang by-election, which he is contesting as a PKR candidate. His “rock star” appeal was obvious with parishioners excitedly waiting for nearly three hours to catch him in action. When Anwar appeared just before noon, there was thunderous applause and everybody tried to capture the moment with the cameras on their handphones. The multi-purpose hall was packed, with many having to stand.
Dressed smartly in a light pink striped shirt and brown pants, the crowd cheered when Anwar spoke about how he had brought international fame to Kajang. “The international media mentioned me in their news, saying that my decision to stand here in ‘Kay Jang’ shocked my friends and foes,” he said to rapturous applause. Beaming from ear to ear, a 72-year old parishioner, who wants to be known only as Alex, said: “I have heard him speak many times, and I wouldn’t want to miss this. “We totally support him and want to hear what he has to say, especially on the Allah issue,” he added. Alex said that during the 8.30am mass, their priest had told the congregation to welcome the opposition leader as “he is our brother”. Alex said that to address the concern among a small group of parishioners who had questioned the wisdom of allowing Anwar to speak at their parish for fear of a backlash from Muslim extremists, Harrison had told his congregation “not to be afraid”. “I believe the church’s stand is to accept everybody, so even if it was an Umno politician who wanted to speak in our church, we are not going to say no,” Alex said. Debbie, a housewife, agreed, saying that she and her friends were eager to hear Anwar’s plans. “As Christians we are taught never to resort to violence, and we stick to that. “But the country needs a change of political power because what we want is unity not just in talk, but in action.”
Another parishioner Andrew Loh agreed, saying that Christians were concerned over the Allah issue and wanted to hear what Anwar had to say about it. “The Allah case is in court because that is the only avenue for us. As Debbie said, we will not resort to violence, but it is our right to go to court,” he said. Bernard, 45, agreed, saying that the case was about principles and the “rights of Christians”. Marcel, 50, said he fully backed Anwar as Selangor menteri besar as it was necessary for the latter to get back into mainstream politics. Also present were Centre for Reform, Democracy and Social Initiatives director Datuk Seri Dr Edmund Santhara and PKR deputy president Azmin Ali. Others include his party colleagues comprising Subang MP R.Sivarasa, Batu MP Tian Chua, Serdang MP Ong Kian Ming,Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, PKR vice president Datuk Chua Jui Meng. Quoted from The "thirteen million plus Ringgit" Guy Rambles.
Well, this is definitely Brother Anwar Bin Ibrahim. He is a Machiavellian practitioner. He will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. I do hope the Malay voters in Kajang protest and voted either Dato' Nalla or Dato' Zaid Ibrahim. Let us get rid of Anwar from Selangor.