Federal Islamic authorities were accused of fuelling Muslim-Christian tensions with the latest Friday sermon.
A Buddhist group today urged the federal government to resolve the drawn-out dispute over the usage of “Allah”, which has caused division and anxiety between Muslims and Christians here.
In a press statement, the Malaysian Network of Engaged Buddhists (MNEB) said the National Unity and Integration Department (JPNIN), which comes under purview of the Prime Minister’s Department, should step into the fray and end the hostility once and for all.
“We call upon the Malaysian government to positively and proactively engage through the JPNIN or other related agencies to participate in resolving this matter with the greatest urgency in accordance to the laws and the Constitution of Malaysia,” said MNEB said in the statement signed off by co-ordinators Soon Koi Voon, Liau Kok Meng and Wong Choon Tat.
“As concerned citizens of this nation and spiritual practitioners, we humbly urge all parties concerned to cease the animosity, refrain from carrying out the so-called ‘burning festivities’ and come together to seek amicable solutions,” added MNEB.
Muslim and Christian leaders here have been at loggerheads over usage of the Arabic word “Allah”, with the former claiming that it refers exclusively to the Islamic God.
In last Friday’s sermon, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department’s (JAKIM) warned Muslims nationwide of attempts by “enemies of Islam” to confuse them into believing that all religions are the same.
Last week, Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali called on Muslims to burn the Malay-language bibles that contain the word “Allah” and other religious Arabic script.
A priest lodged a police report on Tuesday in Penang over the distribution of anonymous pamphlets advertising a “festival” to burn the Malay language bibles at a field there today.
The police have called up Ibrahim, who is also the Pasir Mas MP, to record his statement, following calls by the Bar Council to charge him under the Sedition Act.
A Sabah church group said last Friday that the religious freedom of Christian Bumiputeras was under attack, pointing out that most adherents of the faith in Malaysia came from East Malaysia and use the Malay language.
Church leaders were further displeased by the Jakim sermon, saying that Jakim was blatantly inciting suspicion and intolerance between Islam and Christianity.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin yesterday refused to condemn Ibrahim’s bible-burning threat, and instead called on people to stop blowing up the issue.
The “Allah” dispute, which first erupted after the historic 2008 general election, remains a controversial topic in the run-up to this year’s polls that must be held by April.
Debate resurfaced last month after DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, who is also the Penang chief minister, called on Putrajaya to lift a ban on Malay-language Bibles in Borneo Malaysia.
Several state rulers and Islamic religious authorities then reminded non-Muslims of state laws banning use of the word, despite conflicting with a 2009 High Court judgment that ruled “Allah” was not exclusive to Islam.
MNEB is a network of Buddhist leaders that encourage members to participate in activities that drive social change.