1st December 2014
Between Religious and Religious Bigots!
PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (pic) said while leaders of the Christian and Muslim worlds are beating a path to reach out to one another in peace and tolerance, Malaysian Muslim leaders in the just-concluded Umno general assembly are taking backward steps in relations with non-Muslims.
He said the attitude of Umno leaders and grassroots supporters, with their "racist slurs, religious intolerance and bigotry" are now “the new narrative among those in power”.
Anwar, in a news conference in Kuching this afternoon, noted the diverging path the Roman Catholic's pontiff, Pope Francis who is on a visit to Turkey, was taking in contrast to Umno.
The pope had also been invited by the Mufti of Turkey to conduct religious rites in the famed Blue Mosque in Istanbul – an invitation which Anwar said was unthinkable in Malaysia.
Together with Istanbul's Grand Mufti Rahmi Yaran, Pope Francis yesterday stood for two minutes of silent prayer facing east in the Blue Mosque, one of Turkey's most important mosques, in what one news portal described as “a powerful vision of Christian-Muslim understanding at a time when neighbouring countries are experiencing violent Islamic assault on Christians and religious minorities”.
Malaysian Muslim should Learn From Turkey!
“There is a need to appreciate this move. It has relevance in terms of our attitude and the Umno general assembly's conduct in relation with non-Muslims in this country,” Anwar said.
He said Pope Francis' visit is a gesture “that would go a long way towards blazing a trail for a new chapter on Christian-Muslim relations and mending the strained relations of the past.
“Once we get past theological polemics, which more often than not puts a strain on inter-religious relations, the matters that bind these two great faiths could be reason enough towards cultivating tolerance and respect," Anwar said.
The visit of Pope Francis to Turkey gives new meaning to relations between Christendom and Islam and heralds a new chapter in the relations between the two great civilisations, Anwar said.
He said Pope Francis was radical because he preferred to "relate rather than pontificate".
“That has made all the difference. He goes to Turkey not to preach but to reach out, very much in the tradition of Christ, with humility and peace to the Muslim world.”
What was even more significant, Anwar said, was it askewed “the stereotyping, the typical association of Islam with extremism and violence”.
He said this genuine desire for understanding must therefore be received warmly and reciprocated by leaders of the Muslim world. – November 30, 2014.