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Ban of the non-Islamic religious books should be immediately lifted


Press Statement
by Ashvin Raj

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): DAPSY supports the stand taken by the Sarawak churches from the various denominations urging the Home Ministry to review the ban on the Iban-language Bible Bup Kudus. Such a ban is most unfair and smacks of religious intolerance, despite the fact that it has been widely used by the Sarawak churches for the past 15 years. 

The Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism & Sikhism has issued a Declaration on Freedom of Religion or Belief & Elimination of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. Such a declaration reaffirms freedom of religion as enshrined in the Federal Constitution with Islam as the official religion and not pander to Dr Mahathirís declaration of Malaysia to be an Islamic State on Sept 29 in 2001.

The reason given by the Home Ministry's Film Censorship and Publication Control Division enforcement chief in Sarawak, that Bup Kudus was banned because it breached the guidelines for non-Islamic religious books is most shocking and absurd, as it does not affect national security.

The Christians in Sarawak are at a loss as to why the Iban Bible, which has been in use for many years in the Sarawak churches, can be suddenly banned by the Home Ministry.

The banning of the said book and other Christian publications have caused alarm and fear among the Christian community in Sarawak and other states that Malaysia is indeed an Islamic State as stated by Dr Mahathir who has chosen the path of religious intolerance by declaring Malaysia to be an Islamic State.

It is most sad that a Pastor was quoted as saying that without the Iban Bible, they are unable to conduct church services. Such a predicament they are in only goes to show a third world mindset of the Home Ministry of religious intolerance and a gross violation of human right to the indigenous community to practice their faith freely.

As such, DAPSY calls for an immediate lift of the ban of the non-Islamic religious books by the Home Ministry to safeguard religious freedom in the country and not turn Malaysia into an Islamic State which will have serious consequences in nation-building by projecting itself as being religiously intolerant of other faiths in a multi-racial and multi-religious society.

(16/4/2003)


* Ashvin Raj, DAPSY Assistant National Publicity Secretary