"The church uses the bible and it is part of the worshipper's life. There is no reason why it should be confiscated," said Reverend Hermen Shastri (left), general secretary of the Council of Churches of Malaysia.
"The bibles are used in the church," he said, dismissing suggestions by Islamic officials that they could be used to help convert Muslims who make up some 60 percent of the 27 million population.
Shastri said the latest confiscation happened in September when airport authorities in Sarawak seized 10,000 copies of the Indonesian-language bibles which feature the disputed word "Allah".
Another 5,000 copies were confiscated in March, he said.
"The reason given for the detention of the Scriptures was because they contain banned words," he said.
Two-year legal battle
The Catholic Church has waged a two-year legal battle with Malaysian authorities over the use of the word "Allah" as a translation for "God" in its newspaper published here.
The Herald newspaper, circulated among the country's 850,000 Catholics, nearly lost its publishing licence last year for using the disputed word in its Malay-language edition.
The government has argued that the word "Allah" should be used only by Muslims, who dominate the population of multicultural Malaysia.
The row is one of a string of religious disputes that have erupted in recent years, straining relations between Muslim Malays and minority ethnic Chinese and Indians who fear the country is being "Islamised".
Shastri said there was no reason to seize the bibles because the use of the word "Allah" predates Islam.
"The word is not sensitive in Indonesia and the Christians use it in the Middle East. It is mainly driven by other motives ... (to project) the dominance of Islam in Malaysia," he said.
Officials at the Home Ministry, which Shastri said was involved in the seizure, were not immediately available for comment. - AFP
Comment By Bukittunggal.
Religion is one of the important point being considered by our forefather from Sabah and Sarawak before they agreed to join Malaya and Singapore to form Malaysia. That why the first point of the agreement was about religion. According to the agreement :
Point 1: Religion
there should be no State religion in North Borneo, and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaya should not apply to North Borneo.
The agreement explicitly mentioned that there should be no state religion for North Borneo (to include Sarawak as stated in it 18 Agreement) I guessed. As for the bible confiscated in Kuching Airport, they were brought-in and to be used in the churches throughout Sarawak. Ministry of Internal Affair should return the bible to the church to avoid any religious crisis in the state. In the past, without the interference from the peninsular, the Christianity majority and muslims followers in sarawak have been living together in harmony.
To Malaya, Get your hand-off Sarawak!
"Agi Idup Agi Ngelaban"