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3/16/2011 Malaysia (FreeMalaysiaToday) – The president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference has slammed the Home Ministry for imposing two conditions for the release of the Al-Kitab, Malay-language bibles.
Bishop Paul Tan said the two conditions, directed at the importer in Kuching, were “crass forms of censorship” and a throwback to the Communist era.
The ministry had stated that each copy of the bible must be stamped with the words “For Christians Only” and carry a serial number.
Tan, who heads the Malacca-Johor diocese, said while the release of the seized bibles was welcomed, the conditions, however, were unacceptable to Christians who were “duty-bound to bring the good news of salvation to all who want to listen.”
“The two conditions smack of crass forms of censorship redolent of the communist era when reading material was the monopoly of the reigning oligarchy,” he said.
He went on to compare the conditions as akin to releasing a prisoner who has been detained unjustly and then imposing a restricted residence order on him.
“You may as well put him back in prison,” he said.
Minister puzzled
In another development, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz expressed puzzlement over the confiscation of 30,000 Malay-language bibles in Kuching.
He said Sarawak is not bound by Islamic enactments that restricted the use of the word “Allah”, unlike most states in West Malaysia.
“When it comes to Islam, the precedent is state law. In Sarawak, there is no Islamic enactment,” he told reporters in his office in Parliament today.
“The bibles shouldn’t have been confiscated in Sarawak,” he said.
However, the minister said that there is nothing to stop the authorities from taking away Malay-language bibles if they landed in states where religion is governed by the sultanate.
He added that Penang and the Federal Territories were exempt from Islamic law enactments as well, as they were not overseen by the Malay sultans.