Church opens its gates to allow Ramadan bazaar visitors to park inside


(Left) Affandy and his relatives sell kuih and other foodstuff at the Ramadan bazaar.

(Left) Affandy and his relatives sell kuih and other foodstuff at the Ramadan bazaar.

KOTA KINABALU: Every Ramadan, the Church of Mary Immaculate, a Roman Catholic church, in Bukit Padang near here will open its gates to allow Muslims and non-Muslims alike to park there before buying food and drinks from nearby bazaars.

The practice, which has been in place for about six years now, is seen as a simple but wonderful gesture to show understanding among people of various races in Sabah.

Visitor Mohd Zaki Harry Susanto recently shared a video showing vehicles coming in and out of the church compound to park as people visited the Ramadan bazaar just beside it for food and drinks.

"Beautiful Ramadan in Sabah, the church respects Ramadan Al-Mubarak by allowing its compound to be used for parking by bazaar-goers," he said in a social media post accompanying the video.

"As a Sabahan, I truly hope such tolerance can be preserved forever. There is no need to be over-prejudiced and suspicious of each other in this multi-religious nation as we keep our own religions sacred," he said, adding: "Our country, our responsibility."

Trader Affandy Jani, 38, who has set up stall in the bazaar for a second time, said there was no problem for Muslims and non-Muslims to have activities or programmes next to each other.

"Togetherness brings blessings," he said when asked about what he thought about the church allowing bazaar-goers to park in its compound.

"I am sure both the church and traders have an understanding and that is why the gates are open for whoever needs to park when buying food and drinks," said Monica Chong.

Junin Bebi, 82, said in Sabah, everyone, regardless of race and religion, are friends and family.

"I have seen many good things and close ties among people of all religions here, I hope we will not lose this special bond that we share in Sabah," she said.

She said the increasing incidents involving hate crime and religious-based propaganda in other parts of the world and even in Malaysia were saddening.

"Dear Sabahans, do not bring this type of hatred here, we are one," Junin said.