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



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