Lutong Muslims and Christians gather for buka puasa

Sarawak assistant tourism minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin (second from left) breaking fast with Masjid An Naim chairman Ithnaini Bohari (second from right) and Good Shepherd Church pastor Donald Jute. — STEPHEN THEN/ The Star

MIRI: Muslims and Christians at the church and mosque built next to each other in Lutong bazaar in Miri held a joint buka puasa gathering, an annual event that has become a unique tradition in this place.

The event, which reflects a special multi-racial bonding between people of all faiths, was attended by Muslims from the Masjid An Naim and Christains from the Anglican Good Shepherd Church Lutong.

The buka puasa held at the mosque was attended by Sarawak Assistant Minister for Tourism Datuk Lee Kim Shin, who is also Senadin assemblyman.

The Masjid An Naim and Good Shepherd Church are less than 100m each other in Lutong bazaar, 10km north of Miri.

The management of the mosque and church share their carparks.

The church opens its gate to allow Muslims to park their vehicles during Friday prayers. On Sundays, the mosque opens its gate to allow churchgoers to use the parking space in its compound.

On special occassions such as Christmas and Hari Raya, both the Muslims and Christians will come together for joint gatherings.

Lee yesterday said the state government was pleased to see such unique racial and religious unity in Miri and Sarawak.

“This is unequalled in any part of the country. Where else can one find churches and mosques and temples sharing facilities with each other and sharing food and fellowship like families?

“We must preserve this at all costs because it is a unique treasure.

“Being able to enjoy such sincere religious and racial acceptance is priceless,” he said.

Pastor Donald Jute said the mosque and church had been sharing carparks for past 50 years.

“It has become a way of life for us to share our carpark and meet for gatherings. We think of ourselves as one big family,” he said.

Jute said it was natural for the mosque and church people to help each other in public gatherings.

“This spirit of mutual acceptance comes naturally here,” he said.

Mosque chairman Ithnaini Bohari said it had become natural for the Muslims here to share whatever facilities and occasions with the Christians and other faiths here.

“It is so natural to us because it is part of our daily way of life,” he said.

Lee said the spirit of moderation in Sarawak would be preserved and the state government under Chif Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem would spare no effort in keeping out extremist elements from this state.

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