Johor cops: Catholic priest not arrested over seized hymn books

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 14 Dec 2014

Father Cyril celebrating mass at the St Joseph

JOHOR BARU: The police confirmed receiving a report by a member of the public that led to the seizure of 31 copies of Catholic hymn books in Tangkak, Ledang, recently. 

Johor CID chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Hasnan Hassan said in a statement on Sunday that the hymn books titled Mari Kita Memuji Allah Kita (Praised be to God) contained the words “Allah”, and had a picture of a church with a crucifix printed on the front page, deemed to be sensitive.

Acting on the report, SAC Hasnan said a team from the Ledang district police had confiscated the hymn books at a bookshop in Tangkak on Dec 5.

“The investigation papers have been forwarded to the Deputy Public Prosecutor’s office for action,” he said.

State deputy CID chief Asst Comm Dennis Lim said the confiscated hymn books would be returned to the church pending the decision of the DPP's office.

ACP Lim also clarified that Father Cyril Mannayagam, 44, was not forcefully brought to the police station during the incident.

“We did not arrest him as reported by a news portal. We merely recorded his statement at the police station,” ACP Lim added.

The Catholic priest said he was shocked and did not expect that the hymn books for the use of his Orang Asli parishioners to be seized.

"We have never experienced such a problem prior to this incident, and I really hope that this matter can be resolved immediately, so that the Orang Asli can continue using the books.

"The hymn books are specially used for advent (Christmas season)," Cyril, 44, told The Star on Sunday. 

Cyril was quoted as saying by the news portal that police confiscated the books last Friday after several photocopies of the 50-page book were made at a bookshop in Tangkak.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the controversy of the seizure of Catholic hymn books would be resolved amicably.

He compared the incident to the recently resolved Bible seizure issue after Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah ordered the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) to return the Bibles.

"I hope the previous incident would be taken as a precedent and that the matter be resolved as soon as possible," he told reporters. 

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