'Jom Ziarah Gereja' is a noble effort, says Sarawak minister

KUCHING: A Sarawak minister has come to the defence of Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh over the "Jom Ziarah Gereja" programme, calling it a noble effort.

State Tourism, Creative Industry and Performing Arts Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said it was good for people of different religions to understand the faith of others.

"I think we do not have that problem in Sarawak. A lot of us, including myself, go to mission schools, and we can understand each other.

"I even took up Scripture in Form Five. Bible Knowledge was one of the subjects that I took.

"It does not make me less Muslim, it does not convert me or make me leave my religion," he said at a press conference here on Wednesday (March 22).

Abdul Karim said he believed Yeoh had good intentions of promoting harmony and tolerance among Malaysians in planning the programme.

However, he said it was a shame that her intentions had been misconstrued by others as an attempt to convert the Muslims.

"Don't tell me Muslims are so low in understanding or in their faith, that when you bring them to a church they would convert.

"As a Muslim, I feel ashamed with people like this coming up with 'masuk ziarah gereja, terus terpikat' (visit a church, be captivated immediately)," Abdul Karim said, adding that Yeoh's detractors likely made their claims for political mileage.

On Monday (March 20), Yeoh gave her statement to the police over their investigation into "Jom Ziarah Gereja", a programme under Project Article 11 organised by Impact Malaysia, an initiative under her ministry.

The project is named after Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion.

Bersatu's Badrul Hisham Shaharin, better known as Chegubard, had labelled the programme as "Christian evangelism".

He was also called up by police that day to give his statement.

Police said they were investigating the programme, although it had been called off.

On March 14, Yeoh told the Dewan Rakyat that the programme did not involve Muslims.

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