31 January, 2010

Hijrah Spirit In Line With 1Malaysia Concept ?

Hijrah, in essence, is a process of transfer to a better situation. It is not meant to find a comfortable place where one would relax and stop endeavor. Rather, it is a search for an environment more favorable to continuous and constructive effort. Immediately after reaching Madinah, the Prophet undertook an all-embracing process to establish a faithful and strong society. This is a significant aspect and important lesson to learn from Hijrah.

Read more here.

"The Hijrah spirit practised in Islam is in line with the 1Malaysia concept which is a continuous effort at strengthening unity among the people."

"Najib said the concept of brotherhood and unity was created by the Prophet at the start of Hijrah (flight from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD) in a holistic manner regardless of colour, background and position."

"The Medina community at the time was of different races and religions, and living a life of peace and harmony based under the Medina Constitution that placed importance on unity, protecting Islam as a religion, providing social justice and religious freedom to people of all faiths, and protecting the minorities," he said.


Attacks on churches in 1Malaysia, provoked by a simmering and, to many outsiders, absurd controversy about the use of the word Allah, leaving one gutted by fire and others vandalised.

The government had ruled that the word must not be used except to refer to God as worshiped by Muslims.

Many of those protesting at the Christian use of Allah had hardly been aware of the usage before the public row, for they do not buy Christian newspapers and they do not live in Borneo, where the papers mostly circulate.

When the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) made the Hijrah from Makkah to Madinah, he did not just transfer his residence or took shelter in another city, but as soon as he arrived in Madinah he began the transformation of that city in every aspect.

It is important for us to study and reflect on the things that he did in Madinah. There are many lessons for us in that history and we can learn many things for our life.

1. Masjid (Mosque): The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) first established a Masjid for the worship of Allah. He himself worked in carrying the stones and building that small, humble but most powerful structure. This was the beginning, but soon other Masajid (mosques) were established in Madinah.

2. Madrasah( Islamic school and educational institution for the community):. The first school under the supervision of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was the school of Suffah. Later many other schools were opened. According to Maulana Shibli Numani, there were nine schools opened in Madinah alone in the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

3. Mu'akhah: He established brotherly relations between the Muhajirun (Muslims who migrated from Makkah) and the Ansar (residents of Madinah who helped the Prophet and his Companions). Masjid and Madrasah were not enough; what was also important was to have good relations between Muslims. They should have their brotherhood on the basis of faith, not on the basis of tribes as they used to have prior to Islam.

4. Intercommunity and Interfaith Relations: Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also established good relations with other communities living in Madinah. There was a large Jewish community as well as some other Arab tribes who had not accepted Islam. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) prepared a Mithaq (a covenant or a constitution) for relations between these communities.

5. Cleaning the City: Yathrib (previous name of Madinah) was a dirty city. When the Sahabah (Prophet's Companions) came from Makkah to Madinah, many of them got sick and did not like that city. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked them to clean the city and remove its dirt and filth. `Aishah, may Allah be pleased with her, said: “We came to Madinah and it was the most polluted land of Allah. The water there was most stinking. (Al-Bukhari, 1756)

6. Water System in the City: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked the Sahabah to dig wells in different parts of the city. It is mentioned that more than 50 wells were opened in the city of Madinah and there was enough clean water for every one.

7. Agriculture and Gardening: The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) encouraged the Sahabah to cultivate the land and make gardens. He told them that any one who would cultivate any dead land, would own it. Many people started working and cultivating and soon there was enough food for every one.

8. Poverty Eradication: In a short period of time it happened that there were no poor people in Madinah. Every one had enough and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) used to give gifts to coming delegations.

9. Safety, Security, Law and Order: Madinah became the safest city in the world. There were very few incidents of theft, rape, drunkenness or murder and they were immediately taken care of.

In short, Hijrah teaches us that wherever Muslims go, they should bring goodness to that land. Muslims should work for both moral and material goodness of the society.


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30 January, 2010

Amnesty International - "drop sex charge against Anwar "

Human rights group Amnesty International has urged Malaysia to drop a "politically motivated" sodomy charge against opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, ahead of the trial due to start next week.

Anwar lost his final appeal on Friday for access to the government's evidence in a case which could see him jailed for up to 20 years if convicted of sodomising a male former aide.

Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister and jailed a decade ago on separate sodomy and corruption charges.

"The Malaysian authorities have resorted to the same old dirty tricks in an attempt to remove the opposition leader from politics," Sam Zarifi, Amnesty Asia-Pacific director said in a statement issued late Friday.

"Malaysia's judiciary should throw out these charges."

Amnesty said it is "seriously concerned" over a fair trial for Anwar, especially after Friday's ruling which the watchdog described as an infringement of international fair trial standards.

"Anwar's case has rightly raised doubts among the international community and investors about Malaysia's commitment to justice and the rule of law," Zarifi added.

Anwar spent six years in prison after he was convicted in 1998 but the sex charge was eventually overturned. Amnesty had considered him a prisoner of conscience before his release.

After being freed Anwar reinvigorated the opposition and rallied it in 2008 to achieve its best ever results in national elections, when it won a third of parliamentary seats.

Anwar has accused the Malaysian government of seeking to convict him quickly as part of efforts to deflect attention against its own woes.

Malaysia opposition leader Anwar faces 'show trial'

Amnesty International has urged the Malaysian authorities to drop politically motivated criminal charges of sodomy against Anwar Ibrahim, the country’s opposition leader, after he lost an appeal for access to the government’s evidence against him on Friday.

His trial is now set to begin on 2 February at the High Court. This case is the second time in 12 years that the authorities have brought such charges against the former deputy prime minister.

Following his public criticism of then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed in 1998, Anwar was arrested and convicted on sodomy and corruption charges. He spent six years in solitary confinement before his conviction was overturned and he was released.

“The Malaysian authorities have resorted to the same old dirty tricks in an attempt to remove the opposition leader from politics,” said Sam Zarifi, Asia-Pacific director at Amnesty International. “Malaysia’s judiciary should throw out these charges.”

Amnesty International considered him a prisoner of conscience before his release in 2004.

For five years, Anwar was banned from seeking public office as a result of his conviction on corruption charges. After the ban expired in April 2008, he won a parliamentary seat on 26 August 2008, and become opposition leader as head of the People’s Justice Party (Parti Keadilan Rakyat).

But one month before his election, on 17 July 2008, Anwar was again arrested on charges that he had committed sodomy with a male former aide. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and loss of political office.

The criminal charge of sodomy against Anwar, under Section 377B of the Penal Code, is at odds with international human rights standards. This British colonial-era law provides for prison and whipping, a punishment that violates the international law prohibition on torture and other ill-treatment. Moreover, the UN Human Rights Commission in 1997 ruled that sodomy laws infringe the fundamental right to privacy.

Amnesty International is seriously concerned about fair-trial issues surrounding Anwar’s case. The prosecution’s refusal to deliver evidence to the defence at the pre-trial stage infringes international fair-trial standards and Malaysian law.

“Anwar’s case has rightly raised doubts among the international community and investors about Malaysia’s commitment to justice and the rule of law,” said Zarifi.

Under Section 51A of the Malaysia’s Criminal Procedure Code, the prosecution must deliver documents and a written statement of facts favourable to the defence. The UN Human Rights Committee has established that the minimum facilities for fair trials “must include access to documents and other evidence which the accused requires to prepare his case.”

On 29 January, however, the Malaysian Federal Court failed to uphold the prosecution’s obligation to provide access to evidence which Anwar’s lawyers believe may help exonerate him. In an earlier decision, the Court of Appeals had termed the defence’s application for evidence a “fishing expedition.”

“The court’s decision to allow the prosecution to withhold key evidence sets a dangerous precedent for criminal cases in Malaysia,” said Zarifi. “This is a recipe for unfair trials.”

- Amnesty International


29 January, 2010

Anwar invokes true meaning of sharia law

The recent spate of fire-bombings of Christian churches in Malaysia highlights the need to promote dialogue and understanding between religious groups. In a recent press statement, Anwar denounced the actions of militant Muslims, saying he was 'outraged by the tragic attacks on our Christian brothers and sisters'.

He reminded Muslims of the teaching in the 29th Chapter of the Quran: 'And dispute not with the People of the Book but say, 'We believe in the Revelation which has come down to us and that which came down to you ... our God and your God is one'.'

62 year old Anwar showed leadership from an early age. At university, he was president of the Muslim students' organisation. After graduating he was one of the founders, and the second president, of a leading Islamic youth organisation called Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia.

In 1982 the charismatic Anwar entered politics, and was taken under the wing of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. He rose rapidly through the ranks, and held several ministries before becoming Deputy Prime Minister in 1993. But tensions grew between him and Mahathir as Anwar spoke out against nepotism and cronyism within the government, and they had differences of opinion over economic management.

In 1998 he was ousted from the government, and in 1999 was convicted of corruption and sentenced to six years in prison. In 2000 he was sentenced to another nine years for sodomy. In 2004 the Federal Court of Malaysia quashed the sodomy charges and he was released from gaol.

In 2008, he stood as a candidate in a by-election in the Malaysian seat of Permatang Pauh. He won with a landslide, re-entered parliament, and became Opposition Leader. Shortly after, fresh allegations of sodomy led to further charges which are now before the courts. Anwar denies all the charges against him, saying they were trumped up by political opponents.

In December 2009 Anwar was named by influential US magazine, Foreign Policy, as one of its Top 100 Global Thinkers. It says he has 'a bold message for change in a country now at the forefront of the struggle for democracy in the Muslim world. Today, Anwar's career is blossoming, despite a new, politically motivated indictment. Abroad, he has become an outspoken advocate of religious tolerance.'

- Peter Kirkwood

Peter Kirkwood is a freelance writer and video consultant who worked for 23 years in the Religion and Ethics Unit of ABC TV. He has a Master's degree from the Sydney College of Divinity.

This interview with controversial Malaysian Opposition Leader, Anwar Ibrahim, continues the series recorded for Eureka Street at the Parliament of the World's Religions held in Melbourne at the beginning of December 2009.
He speaks about the urgency of interreligious dialogue, how to deal with religious and cultural pluralism, the need for frank discussion and debate amongst Muslims, and the true meaning of sharia, of Islamic law.


28 January, 2010

Anwar, please remember; "just one bad apple could spoil a barrel "

Many expected the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) political bureau to make a strong recommendation against Kulim-Bandar Baru MP Zulkifli Noordin, after he was seen to have crossed the line for making a police report against a fellow opposition MP from PAS.

However, only a gag order was imposed, pending a disciplinary board investigation against him, indicating the party needs more time to figure out the next course of action against the firebrand politician.

"(PKR party adviser) Anwar Ibrahim looks like he is in a dilemma now, he has to make sacrifices between personal friendship and the interest of the party," said political analyst Dr Sivamurugan Pandian.

Zulkifili is a die-hard supporter of the PKR de facto leader, having stood by him during the former's darkest days in 1998, and throughout the Reformasi struggle, sacrificing his own professional life and aspirations for Anwar.

It is this bond that makes it hard for him to be ignored and dealt with clinically.

Known for his hardline views and actions in the past, Zulkifli has ruffled many feathers but thus far, received no more than a slap on the wrist for various transgressions.

This includes his infamous action with a few others who barged into the Bar Council's forum on religious conversions in August 2008. The forum was eventually cut short.

Last November, Zulkifli made headlines again by challenging PKR vice-president R Sivarasa to quit after being criticised for constantly going against the party line.

However, his latest police report against Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad seems to be the last straw.

Dr Sivamurugan said Anwar "was caught in a situation" where he needed to come out with new mechanisms as the latest action by Zulkifli had affected the level of confidence from the grassroots and the public.

"You can agree and disagree but to what extent (do) you want to sacrifice the party's interests? Some of Zulkifli's opinions did not carry weight and did not get the support of the PR (Pakatan Rakyat). If DAP and PAS do not accept Zulkifli's opinion, then there will be some kind of crisis of confidence," he said.

"Anwar has to make a decision whether he wants to sacrifice Zulkifli for the benefit of PR or he wants the crisis to prolong. It is also a choice between personal friends or party interests. Anwar is really at the crossroads now," he added.

Dr Sivamurugan said it would be better for the party to deal with the issue now, rather than sweep it under the carpet.

"It is not a major issue but it would keep haunting them, especially in this new political landscape.

"It would be good to sacrifice one for the benefit of the party. However, they must be mindful of the backlash from such decisions as Zulkifli also has many supporters in the party, as well as the rival party," he said.

It is this delicate situation that some party insiders said, prompted Anwar to be non-committal when asked if Zulkifli was a liability.

Therefore, it is not surprising that some PKR leaders, such as Zaid Ibrahim, have slammed the party for treating Zulkifli with "kid gloves" and certain quarters in the party are hesitant to take action against Zulkifli as they feel that the lawyer is popular among the Malays for his Islamic issues.

"Many feel that PKR is not serious in taking action. In fact, there are those who predict it won't take strict action within the given time," Zaid wrote in his blog Wednesday.

However, for PKR strategic director Tian Chua, this is not an issue of personal friendship or party interest but more, an action of a certain individual wanting to be a "hero".

"The chip has to be down. We don't want to give him a chance to glorify himself.

"We don't want that (he becoming the hero). No more giving him chance to be a hero. The last thing we want is, (for) Umno to rally behind him," he said.



27 January, 2010

God row spells change ahead in Malaysia

Good Can't exist without Evil or The absence of Good is Evil ?

Two pig's heads were found at a Malaysian mosque close to a neighborhood hit by an ethnic clash nine years ago following a series of arson and firebomb attacks on churches.

The discovery of the pig heads -- an animal considered offensive to Muslims and whose consumption is prohibited -- could further inflame tensions in the mainly Muslim country, prompting police to issue a stern warning against stirring up emotions.

Eleven churches, a Catholic school, a Sikh temple, two mosques and two Muslim prayer rooms so far have been hit by arson and vandalism attacks in recent weeks over the use of the word "Allah" by Christians.

The mosque is located near a neighborhood which in 2001 was hit by an ethnic clash that reportedly left six people dead.

It seemed to come out of nowhere, it ran its course within a fortnight and the damage inflicted was mild compared with religious conflicts in other parts of the world.

The attacks were provoked by a simmering and, to many outsiders, absurd controversy about the use of the word Allah. Below that, they suggest deep and long-running tensions in a country that has successfully bottled them up for 40 years.

The row over whether Christians should have the right to use the word Allah to refer to their god in Malaysian-language bibles and liturgy is just the latest in a series of manifestations of a rising current of conservative Islam.

In other incidents last year, a 32-year-old mother was convicted for drinking a can of beer, and Muslim demonstrators outraged Hindu opinion by marching with the head of a dead cow, an animal sacred to Hinduism, to oppose construction of a temple.

But these are symptoms of deeper fissures in Malaysian society that are not religious so much as ethnic.

Malaysia's success since its independence from Britain in 1963 has been to neutralise the rivalry and mutual dislike between its small majority of Malays (who by law are Muslim) and its Chinese and Indian minorities (who are Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh). Relations between Malays and Chinese have been marked by outbreaks of mutual antipathy rooted in racial dislike.

The Malay view sees Chinese as clannish, patronising, greedy, dishonest and opportunistic.

While BN's UMNO is not a party of fundamentalist Islam, but as its racial base erodes it has attempted to curry favour with ultra-conservative Muslims in the hope religion may fill the ideological gap left by Malay nationalism. A shrewder leader, such as Mahathir, would not have let the Allah row assume the dimensions it has.

But his successor as prime minister, Najib Razak, has stoked it. When a court ruled on December 31 that the ban on the use of Allah by Christians was unconstitutional, he had an opportunity to drop the whole thing.

Instead, his government appealed against the decision, and the attacks followed. The physical damage that the attacks have caused may have been minimal, but the damage to the cause of racial harmony in Malaysia is impossible to calculate.

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25 January, 2010

SIS wins battle to lift ban on book

The High Court here today quashed a ban by the Home Ministry on the book, "Muslim Women and the Challenge of Islamic Extremism", in a judicial review sought by the non-governmental organisation, Sisters in Islam (SIS).

Justice Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof held that the circulation of the book was not prejudicial to public order as only seven of the 215 pages of the book were said to have offended the Malaysian Islamic Development (Jakim) guidelines.

He said the Home Minister had acted illegally and irrationally in banning the book on July 31, 2008, after it was in circulation for two years.

SIS, in its application for a judicial review filed on Dec 15, 2008, named the then Home Minister, Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar, as the respondent, claiming that the ban on the book was outside the ambit of the Printing Presses and Publications Act 1984 and contravened Articles 8(2), 10(1)(a) and 11(4) of the Federal Constitution.

The book is a collection of essays by activists and international intellectuals which was edited by sociologist Prof Norani Othman of the Malaysian and International Studies Institute, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

The book was banned on grounds that it was inclined towards confusing the Muslim community, particularly women, and an attempt to interpret statements about Islam causing "prejudicial to public order".

SIS was represented by counsels Malik Imtiaz Sarwar and K.Shanmuga while senior federal counsel Noor Hishamuddin Ismail, for the Home Minister.

-- Bernama

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24 January, 2010

Malaysia Bolehwood : "9/11 Conspiracy"

Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, has reiterated that the September 11, 2001 attack on the New York World Trade Center was staged and denied that his statement was a publicity stunt.

The former prime minister, who had watched a three-hour video, which showed the attack and collapse of the towers, had suggested in his blog that the twins towers and a third building collapsed "demolition style."

Dr Mahathir who suggested that local television stations show the three-hour video, went on to state that Arabs were "not clever enough" to stage such a coordinated attack involving four planes.

On being insensitive to the victims, Dr Mahathir replied: "I am being more sensitive to the victims as I am saying this is done deliberately."

"A lot of people in America (the apologists will dismiss them as conspiracy theorists) questioned whether the towers collapsed because the planes crashed into them or that something else caused them to come down. These people have reproduced videos taken by media people showing the attack and the collapse of the towers, pointing out certain peculiar features. I have seen the three-hour long video which is widely distributed."

"Those people who watched the live telecast of the attack and the collapse of the towers will remember as I remember, that both towers collapsed straight down, floor upon floor. They did not lean to their sides as they collapse. The manner of their collapse was like the pictures we see of multi-storied buildings being demolished by demolition experts. When demolishing a skyscraper in a built-up area the experts ensure that as the towers collapse they would not lean to the side and strike neighbouring buildings."

"The collapse of the two towers was typical of demolition of skyscrapers by experts in America. It was too clean, each tower collapsing upon itself, not touching each other or the buildings surrounding them."

How Building Implosions Work

A Real Implosion?

Strictly speaking, an implosion is an event where something collapses inward, because the external atmospheric pressure is greater than the internal pressure. For example, if you pumped the air out of a glass tube, it might implode.

A building implosion isn't truly an implosion -- atmospheric pressure doesn't pull or push the structure inward, gravity makes it collapse. But the term implosion is in common use for this sort of demolition.

The Bigger They Come, the Harder They Fall

The basic idea of explosive demolition is quite simple: If you remove the support structure of a building at a certain point, the section of the building above that point will fall down on the part of the building below that point. If this upper section is heavy enough, it will collide with the lower part with sufficient force to cause significant damage. The explosives are just the trigger for the demolition. It's gravity that brings the building down.

Demolition blasters load explosives on several different levels of the building so that the building structure falls down on itself at multiple points. When everything is planned and executed correctly, the total damage of the explosives and falling building material is sufficient to collapse the structure entirely, so cleanup crews are left with only a pile of rubble.

It takes several weeks or months to prepare a building for implosion, Selected columns on floors where explosives will be set are drilled and nitroglycerin and TNT are placed in the holes. Smaller columns and walls are wrapped in detonating cord.

The way the building collapsed must have been caused by explosions ?

One demolition expert on the day of the collapse said it looked like implosion but this is not very strong evidence. Implosion firstly requires a lot of explosives placed in strategic areas all around the building. When and how was this explosive placed in the building without anyone knowing about it. Second, implosion required more than just explosives. Demolition experts spend weeks inside a derelict building planning an event. Many of the beams are cut through by about 90% so that the explosion only has to break a small bit of steel. In this state the building is highly dangerous, and there is no way such a prepared building could still be running day to day like WTC was.


23 January, 2010

Our very much respected and loved Johor sultan is dead

DYMM Sultan Johor Tuanku Sultan Iskandar Al Haj Ibni Almarhum Sultan Ismail Al Khalidi, 77, died at the Puteri Specialist Hospital at 7.15pm after being admitted last night following an illness.

Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman in announcing the Sultan's demise said that his remains would be buried at the Bukit Mahmoodiah Royal Mausoleum at 2pm tomorrow.

"The Sultan of Johor was very much respected and loved," he said when reading the statement to announce the death of the Sultan at Bangunan Sultan Ibrahim, in Johor Bahru at 11pm.

He said the proclamation of the new Sultan of Johor would be made tomorrow at Istana Besar before the funeral.

Earlier yesterday, Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ibrahim Ismail Sultan Iskandar was appointed the Regent of Johor in a ceremony at the Istana Besar.

Tunku Ibrahim, who is the eldest son, is married to Raja Zarith Sofiah Almarhum Sultan Idris Shah and they have five sons and two daughters.

When asked by journalists on the cause of death, Abdul Ghani declined to elaborate.

"May Allah bless the soul of the late sultan," he said at a media conference.

The menteri besar said the sultan's remains would be taken to the Bukit Mahmoodiah Royal Mausoleum beginning at 1.30pm tomorrow.

He said the people of Johor could pay their last respects to the sultan at Istana Besar beginning at 9am while state dignitaries could pay their last respects between 11am and 12.30 noon.

The 78-year-old sultan was born on April 8, 1932 at Istana Semayam in Johor Bahru.

He received his early education from the English College in Johor Bahru, now known as the Sultan Abu Bakar School.

The sultan continued his education in Australia and the United Kingdom before he served as a cadet officer in the Johor Civil Service.

He was appointed as crown prince in 1981.

The sultan is also known for his interest in polo, surfing, hunting and golf.

Seven days of mourning

Meanwhile, Abdul Ghani called on the people of Johor to mourn the ruler's death for seven days.

As for members of the royal family, he said the period of mourning would be 40 days.

Abdul Ghani said the state flag would be flown at half mast for seven days beginning tonight and all forms of entertainment and games would be cancelled throughout the royal funeral.

He also directed all mosques and surau in the state to hold 'tahlil' sessions and special prayers after the Maghrib prayers for seven days.

Meanwhile, Sultan Iskandar's remains were seen being brought to the Istana Besar at 11.22pm.

The van ferrying the sultan's remains was seen leaving the Puteri Specialists Hospital, escorted by scores of police outriders, vehicles carrying the Johor royal families, Johor state executive councillors and the Johor Military Force (JMF) vehicles.

Police personnel, JMF as well as Rela members maintained tight security at the hospital compound following the large presence of media representatives including those from Singapore as well as the general public.

The Sultan of Pahang, Sultan Ahmad Shah, Tengku Puan Pahang Tunku Hajjah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah and the Tengku Mahkota Pahang, Tengku Abdullah were among the early visitors who paid their respects.

Others who paid their respects included former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Higher Education Minister Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Chairman of the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) Halimah Sadique and the Johor Corporation chief executive Muhammad Ali Hashim.

- Bernama

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22 January, 2010

From The Washington Times:"Thank Allah it's Friday"


Catholic churches in Malaysia are being firebombed after a court ruling in that country permitted the use of the word Allah as a generic term for God. Some adherents of the religion of peace are pushing back hard against any notion of a vanilla Allah.

The matter has been adjudicated in this country as well. Judge David F. Hamilton, President Obama's first judicial nominee, faced some drama last year during his confirmation for the federal appeals court because of a controversial decision he wrote in 2005 addressing the legally acceptable name of God.

In Hinrichs v. Bosma, Hamilton, as a U.S. district judge, instructed Indiana legislators to "refrain from using Christ's name or title or any other denominational appeal" during invocations and instead use "nonsectarian" names for God. In a post-judgment order, Judge Hamilton stated that Allah was among the acceptable nonsectarian terms, but a nondenominational invocation of Jesus was not. So, by Judge Hamilton's confused logic, it is acceptable to say "Thank Allah it's Friday," and coins could reasonably bear the slogan "In Allah We Trust," but lawmakers pondering important policy choices could not ask "What would Jesus do?" because the First Amendment forbids it.

Judge Hamilton is a squishy liberal judicial activist with a left-wing agenda - in other words, a perfect Obama court appointment. But his knowledge of Allah leaves a lot to be desired. The generic Arabic word for small-g god is al-ilah. There is no small-a Allah. To Muslims, the word Allah is the proper name of the God of Abraham. It is as sectarian for them as Jesus is for Christians.

Judge Hamilton is safely ensconced for life on the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, so the question of his suitability for the bench is moot, but the reality check going on in Southeast Asia is instructive. Perhaps Judge Hamilton should have asked Malaysian Muslims if Allah is a generic term. The Muslim-majority country recently began enforcing a law dating back to the 1980s that bans the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims. The government was concerned that Christians, who make up about 9 percent of the population, would try to make their faith more palatable to potential converts by using language familiar to them.

Allah had been used as a generic term for God in the Malay language for more than 400 years, and after the government cracked down on a Catholic newspaper for using the term, the church sued. On Dec. 31, Malaysia's high court overturned the law and freed Allah for use by anyone who wanted to utter the word. Since then, at least eight Christian churches have been firebombed, and others have been desecrated. The radicals are making their opinion known about what they see as trademark infringement by the country's Christian minority.

The situation in Malaysia underscores the need for clearer thinking about religion in our own country. Judge Hamilton's sloppy scholarship that made Allah a nonsectarian term fits neatly into the liberal worldview that seeks to homogenize faith rather than accept religious diversity. It's clearly not up to an American district judge to determine what the word Allah means or whether it is an acceptable substitute to refer to a generic god. Judges should understand that First Amendment injunctions against establishment of religion could as well apply to their own decisions when they try to define which names of deities are sectarian and which are not.

Because we live in America, the Land of the Free, we can - at least for now - say, "Thank Allah it's Friday." But it's probably a pretty sectarian bunch who would want to do so.


21 January, 2010

In the name of .....?

Two surau were set on fire, police said, following a spate of violence against churches triggered by a row over the use of the word "Allah".

Eleven churches across the mainly Muslim nation have been pelted with Molotov cocktails, stones and paint in recent weeks, in attacks that have escalated ethnic tensions.

The two surau, or Muslim prayer halls, both in Muar, Johor, with one sustaining serious damage when came under arson attack early this morning.

The church attacks broke out after a December 31 court ruling that overturned a ban on non-Muslims using "Allah" as a translation for "God." The ruling has been suspended pending an appeal.

The row is the latest in a string of religious disputes that have erupted in recent years, straining relations between Muslim Malays and minority ethnic Chinese and Indians who fear the country is being "Islamised."

Police said they had arrested eight people over the first of the church attacks, a firebombing that gutted the ground floor of an Assemblies of God church in suburban Kuala Lumpur.

Religion and language are sensitive issues in multiracial Malaysia, which experienced deadly race riots in 1969.

Arabic speaking non-Muslims, including Christians, have for centuries used “Allah” as a translation for “God.”, but our government maintains that “Allah” is an Islamic word and use by non-Muslims could confuse Muslims into converting to those faiths.

Reactions, opinions, thoughts, comments - all came fast and furious, some which spoke objective, level-headed truth, some which spread dishonest, ignorant lies.

But the young, Christians and Muslims alike, have a better head on their shoulders, and they are the people whose eyes have been glued to both the new and traditional media to sift through the articles and commentaries to see the biggest picture of all: The burnings are actions not condoned nor tolerated by any religion, least of all Islam, and many sincerely believe that the use of 'Allah' to refer to God is not a matter resolved by violence.

So, Why in God’s Name?

Cry, my beloved country, whether or not it could have been "staged", the world is watching, not Avatar, but Malaysia, the 1Malaysia.

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20 January, 2010

Breathtakingly fast MACC officers raid S'gor exco's office

According to Malaysiakini, a team of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers have raided the office of Selangor exco Yaakob Sapari in Shah Alam this afternoon.

The nine officers arrived around 12.45pm and are still at the office.

It is believed that one of the exco's aide identified as Hussein Ahmad has been summoned to the Selangor MACC office for questioning.

According to sources, a MACC report had been lodged against Hussein with regards to corruption involved in the selling of sand.

Yaakob is the exco for agriculture, modernisation, national resources management and entrepreneur development.

'When a police report is lodged against an opposition politician, the speed of the response is breathtakingly fast. When a report is made against any BN politician, the response is breathtakingly slow.'

'Overpriced' hospital: Hello MACC? Anybody there?


18 January, 2010

Najib:"Church attacks minor aberration", PKR's Syed Husin:"Church attacks have broader implications".

Prime Minister Najib Razak said attacks on churches in his country were a "minor aberration" that did not reflect the feelings of most Malaysian Muslims, in an interview published yesterday.

"This is a minor aberration. National unity and mutual respect between various racial and religious communities in Malaysia has been a cornerstone of Malaysia for a long time," he said.

"It should not be seen as a widespread attempt by the larger Muslim community to attack churches in Malaysia," he said.

Meanwhile, PKR's Syed Husin cautions that the recent spate of church attacks could have long-term repercussions for the nation.

I consider these attacks, which are still continuing, to be a serious cause for concern. They have resulted in fissures and tensions among various ethnic and racial groups, although they have fortunately not triggered conflicts and clashes. If not handled with care they could result in long-term social rupture and chaos.

I also hold that the series of attacks were indirectly or even directly the result of the statements made by Najib and Hishamuddin.

Following the Allah controversy, they stated that those who wanted to demonstrate could do so within mosque compounds. Consciously or unconsciously they had provided an opening to extremists to act.

When Najib and Hishamuddin gave the green light for demonstrations to be held after the Allah controversy broke out, they provided opportunities to similar irresponsible and extremist elements to continue what others had failed to do the past.

Both government leaders practiced double standards. They claimed that it was out of their hands if people wanted to demonstrate, although they had come down heavily on demonstrations by opposition groups, even when they were held in mosque compounds.

Many suspected that by giving the green light they were perhaps surreptitiously hoping thousands of Malay-Muslims would come out in support. A massive turnout could be interpreted as popular support for the government decision vis-à-vis the Allah issue.

Obviously they must have been thoroughly disappointed. Only about 500 people gathered at Masjid Negara and roughly 400 at Masjid Shah Alam. In Masjid Kampung Baru only about 200 people assembled, while in the Kota Bharu Stadium there were also about the same number. As stated earlier, the people are now more intelligent, and they would not allow themselves to be carried away and deceived by narrow ethnic and religious appeals


17 January, 2010

Now, the blame is on Facebook, Twitter .

Beware of Facebook, Twitter: Rais warns

The government has warned against excessive use of micro-blogging sites like Facebook and Twitter, arguing that they could erode the country's culture.

Rais Yatim, the information and communication minister, said Muslims and other religious groups must be wary of the Internet as it was introduced by the West.

"We are not saying they cannot use Facebook or Twitter, but when using such facilities, they must upkeep the values taught by Islam, Buddhism or Christianity to maintain our culture,".

Rais said users must not be influenced by what they see and hear when using the Internet.

"We must be strong in our belief and culture because the identity and image of our country depends on us," he said.

Thorn for the government

The government decided last August not to implement a controversial plan to create an Internet filter blocking "undesirable" websites after coming under fire from rights groups.

Malaysia's lively blogosphere has been a thorn in the side of the Barisan Nasional government, which was been in power for more than half a century but was dealt its worst ever results in the 2008 elections.

Internet news portals and blogs, which escape tight controls on the mainstream media, were credited as a key element in the swing towards the opposition which has been adept at using new media to communicate its ideas.

Ironically, it was reported that National Key Result Areas (NKRA) for crime prevention laboratory leader Abdul Aziz Md Noor once said the social networking site, which is widely used by the community, could help the authorities fight crime.

Use Facebook as an alternative approach to solve criminal cases !

Besides helping the police, he said the social networking site would also help foster a closer relationship between the PDRM and the people.

Malaysia Boleh, 1Malaysia lagi Boleh !


16 January, 2010

U.S. Embassy in Malaysia warns of possible attack in Sabah

Warden Notice – Travel in Sabah
January 15, 2010

There are indications that both criminal and terrorist groups are
planning or intend acts of violence against foreigners in eastern Sabah, notwithstanding the Government of Malaysia’s increased ability to detect, deter and prevent such attacks.

The Abu Sayyaf Group, based in the southern Philippines, has kidnapped foreigners in eastern Sabah in the past. Criminal
elements are also responsible for kidnapping and piracy committed against foreigners. Of present concern are the resorts (and transportation to and from) located in isolated areas of eastern Sabah, including Semporna and the islands of Mabul and Sipadan.

Please avoid or use extreme caution in connection with any travel in these areas or locations.

A "warden notice" posted on the embassy's website (malaysia.usembassy.gov/), dated Friday, said resorts located in isolated areas of eastern Sabah, a state bordering the southern Philippines, were of "present concern."

It identified areas of eastern Sabah including Semporna and the islands of Mabul and Sipadan, as well as travel to and from the area.

The warning said there were indications criminal and terrorist groups "are planning or intend acts violence against foreigners," notwithstanding the Malaysian government's ability to detect and prevent such attacks.

"Please avoid or use extreme caution in connection with any travel in these areas or locations," it said.

The state's island resorts are popular with tourists.

The warden notice said the Philippines-based, al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf militant group had kidnapped foreigners in eastern Sabah in the past. Criminal elements were also responsible for kidnapping and piracy, it said.

Malaysia's deputy police chief, Ismail Omar, said his officers were taking all necessary steps.

"I have alerted all my officers in Sabah to boost security at all these places," he told Reuters.

A U.S. embassy spokesman in Kuala Lumpur said such statements were issued periodically and the latest warning was posted "to enable people to make informed decisions about their security."

The spokesman said there was a possibility the warning would be upgraded into an official travel advisory that would be issued by the U.S. State Department.

The Abu Sayyaf, known for kidnapping and beheading hostages, was nearly eliminated after the death of its founder and leader, Abdurajak Abubakar Janjalani, in the late 1990s.

It sprang back to life when about 20 Malaysian and Western tourists were kidnapped on Sipadan island in 2000. Analysts have said that proceeds from kidnappings may revive the small but deadly group.


14 January, 2010

"who wants to be tolerant, we want to be respected."

Lawyers represent the Herald have said their offices were ransacked in the latest attack apparently linked to a dispute over the use of the word "Allah" to describe God.

A church in southern Johor state was also attacked with unknown assailants throwing red paint at the building before dawn.

A day earlier a Sikh temple was attacked, apparently because Sikhs also refer to God as "Allah".

At least eight other churches have been firebombed or vandalised since the court ruling allowing the Malaysian Catholic weekly newspaper, the Herald, to use the word "Allah" to refer to God in its Malay-language edition.

There is no law prohibiting the use of 'Allah' among non-Muslims, the Malaysian Gurdwaras Council said today.

Its president Harcharan Singh said the preamble to the Selangor Non Muslim Enactment 1988 states that the law is meant to control and restrict the propogation of non-Islamic religious doctrines and beliefs among persons professing the Islamic faith.

"There is no law to stop non-Muslims from using it in their own publications meant for members of their own faith," said Harcharan.

He said High Court judge Lau Bee Lan made it clear in her judgment that the publication or use of the term 'Allah' is only prohibited if it is meant to propogate non-Islamic faiths to Muslims.

Malaysia is a country with a lot of diversity. It is a plural society.

This diversity is God’s will. The Quran says that if God wants it He could have made you one community. He said: We made you tribes and nations so that you may know one another.

It is God’s will. It is, therefore, not enough to tolerate others. We must respect them. As one prominent scholar said in one conference "who wants to be tolerant, we want to be respected."

In Islam the word, therefore, is respect, not tolerate. Who are we to tolerate? This is God’s will for me to be here. So it is for Muslims to understand that because Allah wanted Christianity, wanted Judaism, and Buddhism and atheists and anarchists to be here it is for them to respect God’s will. To respect means "I acknowledge the fact that you are here, I acknowledge the fact that you have to be respected – and more than that – I am asked by Allah that I have to know you, which is a two-way process of acknowledgment. Respect is to acknowledge you and know you that you are different and to know about you. My knowledge towards you is an act of respect." So, tolerance is not enough. We must remember that diversity is God’s will.

If you travel around the world, in the Arab world, "Allah" is used by all Christians – Coptics and others. To us, Allah is the one God who sent us the prophets Moses, Jesus and Muhammad. When we use Arabic, we say "Allah", when speak in English, we say "God" and when we speak French, we say "Deus".

The point is the substance and the substance is one God. We are using the language to say it. Some of the scholars coming from the literalist trend, the Salafiya-al Harfiyat, say that Allah is a very specific name.

The majority of the Muslims are using the word "God" when they speak English and the other words in other languages. Allah is not the God of the Arabs but Allah is the only God of all human beings. This is what we are saying.

When we speak other languages, you change by knowing what you are talking about and we understand that He is like nothing we can imagine Him to be. Therefore we cannot describe Him. So when I speak English, I do not have a problem saying "God" and in French I say "Deus" and that’s it.

When the Christian Arabs speak Arabic, in their Bible, they use "Allah" to speak about God. So, you cannot deprive them using this as this has been the case for centuries and in Arabic, God is Allah.

The Roman Catholics among them do not use "Allah" to describe Jesus. There is no problem there. And my understanding of their general hypothesis is that the Trinity is Three in One but they are not confusing the three dimensions of One God. If that is not a problem for them neither is it for us.

But we must also be aware that the Christians, depending on traditions that they are following, are promoting the concept of the Trinity. Each group has its own truth or understanding of it.

- Professor Tariq Ramadan

Professor Tariq Ramadan is a European Muslim who advocates reform in Islam and promotes interfaith dialogue. Born in Switzerland and the grandson of the Muslim Brotherhood founder, Hassan Al Banna, the European academic has been named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most important innovators of the century.

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13 January, 2010

MACC eager to hear from private investigator P Balasubramaniam ?

MACC is prepared to go overseas to question him over his barrage of allegations relating to the murder of Mongolian beauty Altantuya Shaariibuu.

"For us, Balasubramaniam is the main witness. We are prepared for it (the questioning) anywhere, even abroad," newly-appointed MACC chief Abu Kassim Mohamed.

The PI, who was working for political analyst Abdul Razak Baginda, had caused a stir in 2008 when he made a statutory declaration which implicated Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak (at that time the deputy PM and defence minister) in the case.

The controversy took a dramatic turn within 24 hours when Bala retracted the statutory declaration and fled the country with his family.

Abu Kassim said Bala needed to come forward to give his statement as the main witness in order for comprehensive investigations to be carried out.

“We are prepared to meet him anywhere ... there are no problems facilitating the meeting, back home or abroad, we will agree (to the meeting),” he told a press conference here Wednesday.

Bala went missing on July 4, 2008 but resurfaced in a video interviewe aired on the Malaysia Today website last November in which he dropped a series of bombshells that included a claim that he was offered RM5mil to retract the statement.

Bala also alleged that his family was threatened; that he received RM750,000 and RM800,000 from certain parties on separate occasions and was forced to issue the second declaration negating the first.

Altantuya, a 28-year old model and translator, was blown up by military explosives in a jungle clearing in Shah Alam in 2006. The gory murder shocked the world.

Two former police officers, who were once bodyguards of Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, have been sentenced to hang for her killing, but Razak, who was charged with abetting the two cops – was acquitted without his defence being called.

Bala was hired by Razak to keep watch over Altantuya's movements when she was in Kuala Lumpur to allegedly blackmail the political strategist.

French newspaper Liberation reported that Altantuya's murder was connected to Malaysia’s multi-billion ringgit purchase of Scorpene submarines from European shipyard Armaris.

Liberation reported that the Mongolian woman was the go-between for Razak in sealing the deal, for which he allegedly received a whopping RM540mil in commission.

Altantuya’s share was purportedly US$500,000 (RM1.7mil) and she had returned to Malaysia to pester Razak for the payment.

Razak has admitted that he knew Altantuya while Bala, in his earlier statutory declaration, stated that she had also known Najib.The PM has denied ever knowing her.

- Malaysian Mirror

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12 January, 2010

1Malaysia's Monopoly on Allah

Over the course of the past week, nine churches in Malaysia have been firebombed, by muslim extremists who object to the Christian community's use of the word "Allah" in their prayers. The dispute came to a head on Dec 31st when the high court of Malaysia ruled in favor of Catholics using the word in the Malay edition of their weekly newspaper.

What's particularly perplexing about this is that the Islamist political party PAS actually supports the right of Christians to invoke Allah by name, whereas the ruling political coalition UMNO is pushing for Allah to be reserved for muslims only. This is essentially a classic case of an incumbent political party, after suffering significant setbacks at the polls, invoking religion as a base-rallying prop and exploiting and stoking religious tensions for pure political gain (and in that regard reminds me of the Ayodhya issue in India whose repercussions on undermining religious tolerance continue to this day). The irony of a moderate party out-Islaming the Islamists is not lost on UMNO party veterans, like Tengku Razaleigh, who are aghast and speaking out at the naked cynicism of their party:

THE 'Allah' controversy has produced a 'milestone moment' in Malaysian politics, as ruling party Umno took a stance more extreme than even Islamist party Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), said Umno party veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah yesterday.

'PAS is holding onto the more plural and moderate position while Umno is digging itself into an intolerant hardline position that has no parallel that I know of in the Muslim world,' he said.

Tengku Razaleigh's strongly worded speech was delivered at the luncheon address at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies' Regional Outlook Forum in Singapore. In it, he highlighted the reversal of roles for Umno and PAS through their reactions to the 'Allah' controversy.

Umno had for years claimed to be the voice of moderate Malays, while PAS more often made the news for wanting to impose strict Islamic laws.

The UMNO leadership is appealing to the Malysian royalty for support of their stance. PAS, for its part, invokes classic Islamic doctrine in supporting the use of Allah by Christians, as per their status as People of the Book in the Qur'an itself:

"PAS would like to state that based on Islamic principles, the use of the word Allah by the people of the Abrahamic faiths such as Christianity and Judaism, is acceptable," said Hadi in a written statement which was read out by Information Chief Idris Ahmad.

"However, the word Allah must not be misused or abused so as not to affect racial and religious harmony in the country," he added.

Hadi also urged all parties not to politicise the matter for political mileage.

"PAS strongly objects to any aggressive and provocative approach that can lead to tension in society," he added.

The UMNO position forbidding Allah to non-muslims is indeed nonsensical (and cynical) - the Qur'an itself is quite clear on the matter:

And do not dispute with the followers of the Book except by what is best, except those of them who act unjustly, and say: We believe in that which has been revealed to us and revealed to you, and our Allah and your Allah is One, and to Him do we submit. [ 29:46 ]

Surely those who believe, and those who are Jews, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord, and there is no fear for them, nor shall they grieve. [ 2:62 ]

Had God not driven back the people, some by the means of others, there had been destroyed cloisters and churches, oratories and mosques, wherein God's Name is much mentioned. [ 22:40 ]

The UMNO's response? The Home Ministry secretary-general Mahmood Adam made the utterly incomprehensible assertion that "Malays are different from (Muslims in) other countries."

It should be noted that despite the utter incoherence from the UMNO, Malays in general seem loath to allow religion to be used as a wedge factor. There are various student groups that are acting as shills for the UMNO party line, but muslim NGOs are offering their help to the Christian community in protecting churches from further attacks:

Muslim groups in Malaysia are offering their help to prevent any further attacks on Christian places of worship amid a spree of attacks on churches in the multi-ethnic, Muslim-majority Asian country, The Star reported on Sunday, January 10.

"This is an offer of peace and goodwill," Nadzim Johan, the executive secretary of the Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM), told a news conference.

"We don't want our Christian brothers to be in danger."

PPIM is one of 130 Muslim NGOs that vowed to become the "eyes and ears" of the government to shield churches against attacks.

It seems clear that the naked motive of the UMNO, and its abuse of Islam for political gain, is going to cost them dearly in the next election. In that regard, their entire cynical embrace of religious intolerance has backfired; far from bringing PAS supporters to them, they have pushed moderate Malays away, and it's the PAS and other Islamist opposition groups that will benefit. It should be noted that UMNO has been playing this card for decades. While the response from PAS is encouraging, a legislative arms race between UMNO and Islamist opposition parties to out-Sharia each other bodes ill indeed for Malaysia's future.

- Aziz Poonawalla
beliefnet- city of brass

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11 January, 2010

The recent church bombings are a symptom of Najib lagging reform.

A church in Seremban was attacked today, bringing the total number of churches targeted since Friday to eight.

- malaysiakini

The fire-bombing of a number of suburban Kuala Lumpur churches over the past few days have highlighted the delicate balance of ethnic and religious interests in this generally peaceful, Muslim-majority nation. But just as importantly, the incidents have focused attention on Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak's leadership. After only nine months in office, he is facing a major challenge to his authority.

The church attacks are directly related to a recent High Court decision permitting non-Muslims to use the word "Allah" in Malay-language publications. For many Muslim Malays—and especially those from Mr. Najib's party, the United Malay National Organization (Umno), the decision constitutes an unprecedented affront to Malay dignity and Muslim sensitivities.

Yet other Malay Muslims, principally from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat coalition led by Anwar Ibrahim, perhaps mindful of their mounting political support from the country's sizeable minorities, have rejected this approach. Even Mr. Anwar's conservative Muslim party coalition partner, Parti Se-Islam Malaysia, has surprised middle-class Malaysians by joining the voices of moderation. Hadi Awang, a prominent leader of that party, chose to visit a wrecked church Saturday in a show of sympathy.

Mr. Hadi's gesture is important, and not only as a sign of respect for freedom of speech and religion. With large Chinese, Indian and Christian Bornean minorities, Malaysian politics has long been a deft exercise in power-sharing and mutual tolerance. The country's political landscape is in the process of being redrawn as Umno, once the arbiter of middle-of-the-road Malay decency, lurches towards an atavistic and extremist future.

This is all the more unfortunate given Mr. Najib's well-meaning—if ineffectual—attempts to move his party back to the center. His record since his accession to power in April last year has generally been positive. Understanding the extent of popular disenchantment with the Umno-led, National Front government after their drubbing in the March 2008 national polls, the prime minister has launched a number of reform initiatives, especially on the economic front.

In anticipation of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations Free Trade Agreement, Mr. Najib, who is also Finance Minister, announced a major service-sector liberalization in April 2009 that centered around scrapping certain provisions of the pro-Malay, affirmative-action New Economic Policy. The NEP, a mainstay of Malaysia for decades, was long seen as an impediment to foreign and local investment.

The prime minister is also embarking on a major reformulation of the Malaysian economy, recognizing the need to push the country into more innovation-driven, high-value industries and sectors. Moreover, to tackle the perennial problem of red-tape, Mr. Najib's administration is slated to deliver a series of "National Key Result Areas" directives to various ministries this year, which will ostensibly guide reforms and ensure better delivery of public services. Malaysians have responded positively to these initiatives. The prime minister's fondness for fancy abbreviations, such as the 1Malaysia slogan, is ridiculed by detractors, but it reflects his results-oriented approach.

However, Mr. Najib's deep roots in the ruling Malay elite (he's the son of a former premier) have also imbued him with an innate conservatism and caution when it comes to handling communal issues as well as the civil-liberties agenda. Here, catchy and upbeat slogans like the 1Malaysia campaign are not enough. Malaysians want root-and-branch institutional reform. Public trust in the police and the judiciary remains extremely limited. While Mr. Najib has indicated a willingness to curtail the ruling coalition, the National Front's interventionist approach in the economic sphere, he has been unable to loosen his government's stranglehold on the media and civil society....read more here.

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10 January, 2010

More churches have come under attack in Sarawak, Perak and Malacca

“…It’s interesting to observe that, in rejecting the Athenian’s erroneous concept of God, Paul did not reject the word they used for God, Theos, which was the common Greek word for God. Some Christians unthinkingly say 'Allah is not God.' This is the ultimate blasphemy to Muslims, and furthermore, it is difficult to understand. Allah is the primary Arabic word for God. It means 'The God.' There are some minor exceptions. For example, the Bible in some Muslim lands uses a word for God other than Allah (Farsi and Urdu are examples). But for more than five hundred years before Muhammad, the vast majority of Jews and Christians in Arabia called God by the name Allah. How, then, can we say that Allah is an invalid name for God? If it is, to whom have these Jews and Christians been praying? And what about the 10 to 12 million Arab Christians today? They have been calling God ‘Allah’ in their Bibles, hymns, poems, writings, and worship for over nineteen centuries. What an insult to them when we tell them not to use this word ‘Allah’! Instead of bridging the distance between Muslims and Christians, we widen the gulf of separation between them and us when we promote such a doctrine. Those who still insist that it is blasphemy to refer to God as Allah should also consider that Muhammad’s father was named Abd Allah, ‘God’s servant,’ many years before his son was born or Islam was founded!”

--excerpted from BUILDING BRIDGES by Fouad Accad (Colorado Springs, CO: Navpress, p. 22). (Source)

Since Friday, at least seven churches have been attacked with petrol bombs.

In Taiping, Molotov cocktails were hurled at two churches and the guard post of a school, SM Convent.

Perak police chief Zulkifli Abdullah said there was no damage to the All Saints Church, the oldest Anglican church in the country, while the school's guard post suffered only minor damage.

"There were black marks on the wall (at All Saints). We believed there was a small fire earlier but there was no damage as the wall was intact,".

According to Bernama, he said the church keeper realised the incident at 7.30am and reported the matter to the police.

Police, who went to the scene, found two black spots on the church wall and two broken bottles believed to have been used in the incident, he said when contacted.

On the incident at SM Convent, he said, the school's security guard realised the incident at about 3.30am.

He added that police believed the incidents were perpetrated by opportunist individuals out to take advantage of the current issue.

He said police had stepped up the monitoring of houses of worship in the state.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has appealed for calm.

"The public need not worry, and they must not be influenced by reports on the Internet or (rumours circulating) through SMS," he added.

Black paint splashed on Melaka church

According to Malaysiakini correspondent Humayun Kabir, St Louis Church (below), which sits adjacent to SM Convent was also struck with a bottle containing flammable liquid but with little damage.

In Malacca, the Melaka Baptist Church in Durian Daun was splashed with black paint.

In Miri, some windows were broken when stones were thrown at the Good Shepherd Church.

Miri OCPD said the police cannot ascertain whether this case is related to those that happened in the peninsular.

Hermen Shastri, secretary-general of the Council of Churches, said officials had stepped up security in the wake of the fresh attacks.

"The attacks show they are more just a prank as it does not appear to be a major (attack), someone is trying to send a signal that they are unhappy," he said.

Over the past two days, four churches in the Klang Valley were hit by petrol bombs.

The Metro Tabernacle Church in Desa Melawati, the Assumption Church and Life Chapel Church, both in Petaling Jaya were attacked by unknown assailants between midnight and the early hours of Friday morning.

Yesterday, it was reported that the Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Petaling Jaya was also attacked.

The Metro Tabernacle Church was worst hit - the ground floor of its three-storey building was completely gutted, while the other three churches suffered minor damages.

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Divorce after 35 years...a re-run

An elderly man in Mumbai calls his son in New York and says,

'I hate to ruin your day son, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are getting a divorce; 35 years of marriage... and that much misery is enough!'

'Dad, what are you talking about?' the son screams.

'We can't stand the sight of each other any longer,' the old man says.

'We're sick of each other, and I'm sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Hong Kong and tell her!'

Frantic, the son calls his sister, who explodes on the phone.

'Like heck they're getting divorced,' she shouts, 'I'll take care of this.'

She calls Mumbai immediately, and screams at the old man, 'You are not getting divorced. Don't do a single thing until I get there. I'm calling my brother back, and we'll both be there tomorrow. Until then , don't do a thing, DO YOU HEAR?' and she hangs up.

The old man hangs up his phone and turns to his wife.

'Okay', he says, 'It's all set. They're both coming back for our anniversary and paying their own airfare!!'


No man / woman is busy in this world all 365 days.

The sky is not going to fall down if you take few days' LEAVE and meet your dear ones.



09 January, 2010

Why are the Christians claiming Allah?

The Malaysian “street” needs an education. The Malaysian High Court’s decision to overturn a three-year ban on the use by Christians of the word Allah was correct – based both on the freedom of Malaysians to practice their faiths, and also based on the facts. Unfortunately, public protests and violence over the decision has led to its suspension pending the hearing of a government appeal.

This is a political debate in Malaysia, not a religious one. My opinion is probably not going to be of much use in that political debate. And far be it from me to interfere in the Malaysian judicial process. But, please, I hope our sometimes ultra-sensitive Malaysian friends will entertain one simple fact: In Arabic, “Allah” means “God”, for Christians and Muslims alike. Every Sunday, millions of Arabic speaking Christians around the world (including in Muslim majority countries), hear the word “Allah” in their Sunday liturgies. Even in colloquial Arabic, “Allah” is used by Christians in any number of everyday expressions.

I’m not a religious scholar. But I can attest to having attended many such services, including my marriage and the baptisms of my children – all of which were performed in both English and Arabic. “Allah” is also used routinely by Malaysian Christians (this is not some new innovation), and by Indonesian Christians (to far less controversy).

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib’s statements that the Malaysian government will do all it can to prevent attacks on Christians over this issue is welcome. But it is the least the government can do. The absence of violence is important; so is the freedom to practice the religion of one’s choice. The government should lead by example and drop its appeal.

When considering the political trends in Malaysia, all should understand that this debate over the word “Allah” is about limiting Christian practice, not protecting Islam. And at any rate, as Indonesia’s dear departed Gus Dur was known to say, God doesn’t need to be defended anyway.

- Walter Lohman

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08 January, 2010

"Allah" controversy : 1Malaysia is a grand illusion !

1Malaysia’s goal is to preserve and enhance [the] unity in diversity which has always been our strength and remains our best hope for the future.

- 1Malaysia PM

The row over the use of the word Allah has escalated into violence, three Christian churches in have been attacked amid tensions over the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims in the country.

Muslim groups held protests after Friday prayers against the court overturning the "Allah" ban, despite a warning from Musa Hassan, the country's police chief, but have received the tacit blessing of the prime minister.

He said people could express their views as long as it was done properly and in accordance with regulations.

Hundreds of Muslims held banners in Friday's protest, some reading 'Do not challenge the Muslims', and chanted slogans for about half an hour before dispersing.

At least two churches have received threats by phone today as Muslims protest against a court ruling allowing Christians to use the word 'Allah', church leaders said.

Anwar Ibrahim, would be justified in asking why his reform rallies so often seem to be an exception to this ruling; the Hindu organisation Hindraf was told that their desire to deliver a petition to the prime minister of the day fell outside of the right to "express views", and suffered tear gas, water cannon and the arrest of many of its leaders when they tried; and yet Muslim rioters were defended by the home minister during the now infamous "cow's head incident" last year, despite dragging a severed cow head, an animal sacred in Hinduism, which they stomped on and spat at under the gaze of the riot police.

The prime minster has denied accusations that the move against the Catholic church was politically motivated, but has yet to offer a plausible explanation as to why his government decided to act on the issue in the first place.

Minister in the prime minister's department, Nazri Aziz, has offered this:

"We have to take into consideration the culture and nature of Malaysia. What is considered normal in the United States and Europe is not necessarily normal here."

Ten police reports were also lodged by the NGOs to express their disappointment over the use of the word in the publication.

In the police report, Dr Ma'amor said the NGOs requested for an investigation into the publisher and that the publication stop using the word.

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