'Herald' must rethink its decision

Dr Chris Anthony

Modified 22 Jan 2009, 8:14 am

I refer to the Malaysiakini report Ministry to probe Herald's use of 'Allah' despite ban .

It is regrettable and deeply disappointing to realize that the Catholic weekly Herald has decided to defy the government’s order refraining it from using the word ‘Allah’ in its publication while awaiting the courts’ decision on the matter.

Although we may not agree with the ban, it is only right that we continue to approach the issue with much civility and tolerance and with great regard for the general peace and stability in this country with a multiracial and multi-religious population.

It is one of the rare occasions that we agree with Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar that this issue must be sorted out in an environment which is not confrontational but in an environment of goodwill and understanding.

We tend to agree with him that if one religion decides to ‘show its strength’, it can be dangerous and can lead to chaos. All religions are equal in teaching good values to their followers and this should be respected by followers of other faiths.

Disputes between different faiths are inevitable but it is paramount that these should be settled in a peaceful manner with goodwill, tolerance and moderation as the guiding principles - not egocentrism and confrontation.

The attitude of the Herald reflects the thinking of the Catholic Church in Malaysia. Does the church want its congregation to adopt a confrontational attitude in solving its misunderstandings with their non-Christian brethren?

Isn’t subjecting oneself to authority a sign of humility and putting the wishes of others above our own preference a sign of charity? Aren’t these great virtues that were demonstrated by Jesus himself?

The Catholic Church has been given a good opportunity to show all Malaysians the true values of Christianity. The Church, and the Herald in particular, must abandon their decision to go defy the ban on the use of the word ‘Allah’ as a gesture of goodwill and for the overall peace in the country.

This particularly at a time when there are positive political developments for a multiracial approach in governance. These changes may be slow but there are definite signs that they have begun.

The church, which claims it promotes interracial love and goodwill, should not stubbornly stand in the way of what the people of all races want or it would then be partly to blame for perpetrating racism and religious fanaticism that have plagued Malaysians for over fifty years.

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