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Monday January 11, 2010

Govt to hold inter-faith dialogues to resolve differences of views

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will hold inter-faith dialogues between various religious leaders to reach “common denominators of understanding.”

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the Government had also been meeting religious groups separately.

He said the Institute of Islamic Understand­ing had started to hold inter-faith dialogues, adding that his department would be holding closed-door talks too.

He said this yesterday after attending Metro Tabernacle’s church service at Wisma MCA yesterday.

The Metro Tabernacle’s ground floor administrative office in Desa Melawati was badly burnt by arsonists on Friday morning, forcing the church to use the Dewan San Choon for their weekly services for two weeks.

“We have had discussions with every group separately even before this but as you can understand, every faith has different groupings with different views,” said Dr Koh, who is also Gerakan president.

He, however, stopped short of saying that a public inter-faith dialogue would be held: “Let’s take it one step at a time.”

The arson attacks on the four churches on Friday came after the High Court ruled that Catholic weekly The Herald has the constitutional right to use the word “Allah” to describe the Christian God in its Bahasa Malaysia section.

In Kota Kinabalu, the Sabah Council of Churches has proposed a dialogue between all parties to amicably resolve the differences of views over the use of the word “Allah.”

It’s president Rev Jerry Dusing said that Malaysians had always resolved differences of views amicably through meaningful dialogue and greater understanding.

Meanwhile, Sabah Justices of Peace Council president Datuk Clarence Bongkos Malakun called on Christians to volunteer to drop the use of the word “Allah” to pacify feelings of the Muslims in the country and for all parties to come up with a solution outside the courts.

In urging the people to stay calm and safeguard peace in the country, Upko president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, however, called for the issue to be settled by the courts.

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