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Bishop raps Ibrahim Ali's 'burn Bibles' statement

Catholic Bishop Dr Paul Tan Chee Ing is appalled by Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali's statement urging Muslims to burn Bibles that use the term ‘Allah' for God, describing it as "an incendiary statement that far exceeds the bounds of civil discourse in Malaysia".

The head of the Catholic Church in the Malacca-Johor diocese, Bishop Paul Tan, said that now that Ibrahim's "incendiary remarks are in the public domain, let's wait and see what the authorities will do about it".

"If there is going to be any point to that slogan ‘1Malaysia' then this is the time when we can see for ourselves if the concept is mere sloganeering to win votes or an earnest of the government's desire to unite the people in all their diversity," argued the prelate.

ibrahim ali press conference at his home in taman melawatiIt was reportedthat the Pasir Mas MP urged Muslims to seize and burn copies of the BM Bibles, Alkitab, to stop the Christians from offending the religious sensitivities of Muslims.

"Muslims must unite to protect their religion. They must seize those Bibles, including the Malay editions, which contained the term ‘Allah' and other Arabic religious terms, and burn them. This is the way to show our anger against disrespect to our sensitivity," websiteFree Malaysia Today quoted Ibrahim as telling a press conference after delivering his presidential speech at a Perkasa convention in Penang.

The keynote speech at the '2013 Penang Malays Economic and Education Transformation' convention was delivered by former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Bishop Paul Tan said he was for freedom of speech but that right does not excuse someone crying "fire" in a crowded theatre even if the crier was motivated to call attention to defects in the fire-fighting equipment in the house.

"The right to free speech does not absolve one of responsibility to protect the rights of others," he opined.

'Shoot first and verify later'

The Catholic leader said the ostensible grounds for Ibrahim's call - apolice report that alleged that two men had distributed Bibles to Muslim students at the entrance to a secondary school in Jelutong, Penang - does not furnish good reason to discard the bounds of civil discourse and opt for the inflammatory that could lead to disrupting the fragile harmony of an already strained society of diverse religious and cultural sensitivities.

NONE"In recent years, we have heard of alleged Christian plots to topple Islam as the official religion of the country and sundry other reports of Christian proselytising of Muslims - all of which were alleged and not proven," observed the Jesuit-trained prelate.

"This alone should give pause to those apt to use the latest allegation of Christian proselytisation of Muslims as grist for more Christian bashing.

"It seems the absence of confirmation of past allegations is no restraint on current propensities to shoot first and verify later," asserted the bishop.

"This leaves matters in the hands of the authors of that concept of ‘1Malaysia' - whether they are purveyors of hype or promoters of a new Malaysia in which minorities are not targeted to suit the electoral calculations of those threatened by a surge in public consciousness," he added.

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