Priests find silver lining in Penang church incidents
by Susan Loone
28 January 2014
The City Parish, Penang, has expressed sadness over yesterday’s incidents where controversial banners were hung on churches, and home-made bombs were hurled into the compound of the Church of the Assumption compound along Farquhar Street.
“We are sad that there are elements out to create mischief between the various religious communities,” said its parish priest, Father Dominic Santhiyagu, in a statement today.
The City Parish consists of four churches within Georgetown, including the Church of the Assumption.
“The Church prays that peace and harmony will prevail at all times,” he added.
Santhiyagu also said that in the midst of these incidents, many, from various segments of society and of all races, had called to provide moral and spiritual support. He added that he trusted the police to conduct a thorough investigation and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Santhiyagu also thanked Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, the state executive council members and others, for their concern and visits to the Church of the Assumption.
“Thank you for being in solidarity with us. Let us continue to pray and work for peace and harmony in our beloved country, Malaysia”.
At 1.30am yesterday, two Molotov cocktails were hurled into the compound of the 229 year old church by unknown individuals.
This happened after five banners with the words ‘Allah is great, Jesus is the son of Allah’, were found at the premises of five churches, including one in Butterworth, on Sunday.
Other than the Assumption Church, the Immaculate Conception Church in Pulau Tikus, St John Britto, Sungai Pinang, Victory Lutheran Church, Island Glades, and Church of the Nativity in Butterworth had the similar banners hung outside their gates.
The police are probing the case under the Sedition Act for inciting religious tension and under the Penal Code for mischief by use of fire.
Sixteen reports have been lodged over the banners and Molotov cocktail incidents, and 283 police personnel have been deployed to monitor the situation of churches and mosques in Penang.
‘Don’t be provoked’
State exco for religious affairs, Abdul Malik Kassim, said those who placed the banner outside the churches may be the same ones who threw the firebombs.
“These groups doing these actions to benefit themselves,” Malik said, without pinpointing any political party or NGO.
He cautioned Muslims and Christians not to be swayed, trapped or provoked by these incidents which are intended to create racial and religious discord.
“Muslims are taught to protect the houses of worship of other religions. We are always taught to respect other religions and race,” he told a press conference in Komtar today.
State Umno liaison committee chairperson Zainal Abidin Osman also told the public not to listen to rumours.
“Check with the authorities and don’t be easily provoked,” he added at a press conference today.