PETALING JAYA: The Association of Churches in Sarawak has expressed its regret over concerns raised in the media about the stamping on the recently released Bibles that contained the word “Allah”.
Sarawak Archbishop Datuk Bolly Lapok(pic) said there was no intention on the part of the authorities releasing the said Bibles to desecrate them or be otherwise disrespectful to the Christian community.
“In this holy season of Christmas, which Christians, celebrate God’s ultimate generosity to mankind, let us rejoice that this matter has been settled and go forward together to build a future for our nation, which embodies unity, peace and hope,” Bolly said in a statement here yesterday.
The association, he said, viewed the Sultan of Selangor’s intervention in gaining the release of the Bibles as a demonstration of the muhibbah spirit and an earnest call to Malaysia’s diverse religious communities to live in harmony together.
“Change is necessary as nations grow and develop.
“The process must involve continuing dialogue and have it conducted in a manner which affirms mutual learning and respect – the principle of muhibbah,” he said.
Bolly is one of the central figures who was responsible in ending the impasse with his willingness to be involved in discussions with the authorities regarding the matter.
In a recent exclusive interview with The Star, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah said the stamping of the Bibles was done because there was a violation of the Non-Islamic Religions (Control of Propagation Among Muslims) Enactment 1988.
It was also to ensure that the Bibles containing the word “Allah” did not return to Selangor. The association, he believed, was aware of the stamping.
“To me, the main thing is not about the stamping but to ensure that the Bibles were returned in good condition without any pages torn,” said the Sultan.
The Sultan also reminded the public to respect other people’s religions as well as the state’s law.
The Bibles were confiscated during a raid by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) at the Bible Society of Malaysia’s (BSM) premises in Damansara on Jan 2.
The stand-off between the state religious authority and the Christian community lasted almost a year before the matter was resolved with the return of the seized Bibles to the Christian community at a ceremony held at Istana Alam Shah in Klang in the Sultan’s presence.
However, BSM later claimed that the Bibles had been desecrated as they were stamped with a warning notice that read that the Bibles, which were returned to be distributed in Sarawak churches, were not to be used or distributed anywhere in Selangor.