Bridge builders stand down Book Burners

January 29, 2013

Bridge builders stand down Book Burners

by Terence Netto (01-28-13) @

COMMENT It was a weekend fraught with anxiety over what some pyromaniacs had threatened to do. In the event, it turned out to be an occasion when meaningful symbolism triumphed as incendiary intent fizzled out – and the rest of the country breathed a little easier.

The children of light had triumphed over the children of darkness – that was the essential story of the weekend just past. Whom and what did it take for this to happen?

It took imagination by some leaders and constructive thinking by ordinary people for the triumph – albeit, temporary – of the nobler impulses over the baser instincts of man.

Rarely have such disparate symbolic gestures, like the birthday celebration of a durable leader, and the quiet reading and contemplation of scriptural texts by a host of ordinary people, combined to provide an appraising public with the liberating possibilities that a creative imagination affords.

Ibrahim AliPerkasa firebrand Ibrahim Ali (left) had set the stage for dire possibility two weeks ago with his call to Malays to burn Malay-language bibles that used the term ‘Allah’ for God.

That incendiary call prompted a welter of reaction but none was publicly forthcoming from leaders rhetorically invested in the paths of moderation.

Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. Predictably, Ibrahim’s call, seemingly safe from interdiction by the powers-that-be, drew an anonymous respondent to post an invitation to the public to witness a burning of bibles on January 27 at a public venue on mainland Penang.Fortunately, not everyone took the threat in supine fashion.

Nik Aziz meets Karpal

The ecumenical Mujahid Yusof Rawa, the PAS MP for Parit Buntar and his party’s pointman for their outreach programme to non-Muslims, had been working for a long time to counter just the kind of fear mongering at which Ibrahim Ali is a dab hand.

Mujahid, in cahoots with comrades in PKR and DAP in Penang, contrived to have PAS spiritual leader Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat meet up with DAP chairperson Karpal Singh at the latter’s home, which is located in the thick of the Thaipusam festivity yesterday along Waterfall Road in Penang.

Pakatan solidarity

Sunday, Jan 27, happened to be the Kelantan Menteri Besar’s 82nd birthday.  Karpal, who has recently been the target of criticism by some ulama in PAS over the former’s appeal to them to reconsider their stance on the ‘Allah’ issue, was pleasantly surprised by the visit to his house by Nik Aziz, the birthday man himself.

They reminisced on a past when they first became colleagues in 1978 on the Opposition benches in Parliament, Karpal representing Jelutong in Penang, and Nik Aziz turning out for Pengkalan Chepa in Kelantan.

“His presence sends a strong message that our unity is as strong as ever, despite all that happened,” chimed a happy Karpal.

A cake for the prelate

After that visit to Karpal, Nik Aziz met up with the Catholic bishop of Penang, Sebastian Francis, at a hotel where he presented a cake to the prelate.

Nik Aziz Nik Mat and Penang bishop Sebastian Francis cake 2The meeting was not originally on Nik Aziz’s schedule but was arranged spontaneously, as a counterpoint no doubt, to the threatened bible-burning event that did not take place.

Bishop Francis told a frail-looking Nik Aziz that the country’s needs his spiritual example, a sentiment that Ibrahim Ali would likely disagree.

Elsewhere in the country, at a park within the vicinity of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, a small crowd of people, who could not have known about the ecumenical goings-on between DAP and PAS in the north and between Islamic and Christian leaders, flopped down on the grass to read spiritual books they have brought along to the collective read-in.

klcc book reading 270113 masjalizah hamzahOne of them, a Muslim named Masjaliza Hamzah (right), brought a Bible and read from it. She said, “Other people may be worried for me, but I am not worried about my own faith.”

The thought here echoes with some resonant lines from the poet William Blake: “In every cry of man/In every infant’s cry of fear/In every voice, in every ban/The mind-forged manacles I hear.”

Yesterday, spiritual and lay leaders in Penang and in Kuala Lumpur, acted out gestures whose striking panache helped breach the ‘mind-forged manacles’ that the book-burning crowd want people to be shackled with.

15 thoughts on “Bridge builders stand down Book Burners

  1. This show of unity and solidarity is most welcome. Ibrahim Ali should now wake up,and realise that his kind of racist politics won’t work. Nobody wants a repeat of 5-13-69. Hate preachers should be severely dealt by the Najib administration. The PM won’t and we know why. It is the Numero Uno Hate advocate, Tun Dr. Mahathir.–Din Merican

  2. This is the day that the lord had made. We want more days of such and finally reach 365 days. Wishful thinking but a start has been made.

  3. Sad to see when some countries’ leaders clearly ineffective in the international arena, turn cannibalistic on their fellow country for political credits and fame. This is getting to be the phenomenon of small countries with some exceptions.

    But we now have a clear silver lining in the dark cloud – in Malaysia Pakatan Rakyat is showing there is always room to accommodate differences in views.

  4. Should Masjaliza Hamzah decide to organise and lead another scripture reading session in the near future , all right minded Malaysians should flock to attend such a gathering with their respective scriptures in hand . I am sure , such a session will attract a bigger crowd then BERSIH and the recent opposition led PERHIMPUNAN did.

    Like Malaysiakini says this morning , ” Fighting stupidity in Malaysia is an uphill battle ” if we continue to allow morons like Ibrahim Ali , Mahathir , Hassan Ali , and their following of mufti’s like the Harussani fella in Ipoh, to spew seditious remarks and be allowed to get away with it – with no action taken against them by the authorities.

    It is because no action is taken against these low life scum by the authorities, that Malaysians need people like Masjaliza Hamzah and BERSIH’s Ambiga – to lead Malaysians along the path of righteousness. Only then will the authorities begin to show signs of fairness in applying the law and the masses will be shown the light and be made aware that the UMNO – BN politicians in our midst are as crooked as they come and following their lead would be disastrous not only for Malaysians but also for Malaysia.

  5. Majority of Malaysians of all races and religions are actually very respectful and tolerant of each others and can live peacefully and harmoniously without any problem. People like Ibrahim Ali, Harussani etc are only a minority with little support, but they are given the means to spread their nonsense by the mass media and some of the politicians who intent to use religions and some stupid idiots to achieve their mischievous political ambitions.

    It is time that these politicians are pensioned off for good, for the well being of this country.

  6. Dumbass Najib just missed another golden opportunity.

    Imagine …. if right at the outset, Najib pulled off a similar stunt like Nik Aziz / Karpal / Bishop Francis ….

    … he would have moved the hearts of Christians, Sikhs, moderate Muslims from both sides and other rakyat Malaysia who are following this issue with alarm …

    … he would have singled-handedly tip the balance back in favour of BN …

    … but he chosed to be elegantly silent about this issue …

    … and confirmed in everyone’s mind that he does not have it in him to be a leader …

    … or maybe he’s too busy holidaying in Gaza and Davos …

    … or maybe he was waiting for the cue from Mrs PM …

    … perhaps, it’s a blessing that Najib’s a dumbass …

    … the thought of him being the PM for another 5 years is ….

    … nauseating …

    There is yet another golden opportunity still open for him …

    … but does he have the creativity to see it ….

    … or the guts to put it into action ….

  7. Mr. Bean, I think most Malaysians have found it like you. I like your choice.

    Pak Amin, what a splendid idea. Let’s have it again,this time without prompting from the goon, Abraham s/o Ali (look at his face, doesen’t he look like a moron)

    I agree with Steven, most Malaysians of the different ethnic races do get on well with each other. It is the people on the top like Ali Kuti and his moron that wedges us apart.

    Never fear GE13 is round the corner.

  8. Bravo to Masliza Hamzah!! Surely your holding and reading the Bible has not falter your Muslim faith. Hope many more would be as open – minded as you are. We were all very peaceful and harmonious with each other before Matathir divided us for his own personal benefits. Once again bravo to Masliza. Please show to your fellow Muslim sisters and brothers that no external influence will have any effect over your faith, if it what you have. I am sure there are other Muslims who have read the Bible, in private, for their own enrichment and knowledge without being converted to Christianity. But Masliza to have openly done it, there is still hope for Malaysia.

  9. we will be the champions, the Rakyat of Malaysia. don’t let a couple of morons destroy what we built with our sweat and tears.

    this is the way to freedom from the shackles of the present regime.
    even Gandhi would approve malaysians as peace loving people.

  10. If your own faith can be shaken when you read religious materials of other faith then yours is not the faith for you.

    There are people who read the Torah, Koran and Buddhist materials for knowledge to know how to live among people not of my faith. This is not permitted for Muslims?

    Why is it that despite their efforts, mission schools like ACS, MBS, Laselle etc.were not much successful in propagating Christianity? They did it by not making things compulsory to attend those religious services. The same is said to Islam. ……………… Likewise, reading the Bible is knowledge. If it is conversion then that person have not found what he/she is looking for.

    There are far too many hypocrites within each religion with the “I am holier than thou” attitude but our creator sees inside. This smoke/mirror fits nicely into Johari window.

    All of us will meet our creator one day. So far there is not one who have gone to live there a while and then back to tell all about it. Perhaps there could be one whose brain returns after a long coma into the dimension that all of us will eventually go.

  11. “Let’s have it again,this time without prompting from the goon, Abraham s/o Ali (look at his face, doesen’t he look like a moron)” – Brian January 29, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    I think it will be a gross insult to the Jews to call this monster of Dr. Frankenstein, Abraham ben Eli (Eliezer) 🙂

  12. I realize all who commented here all thought along the same line ie if you are strong enough faith in your religion, why fear others?

    But unfortunately, you are all the minority… out there in the rural areas and kampungs, the damage from the brainwashing is complete… just listen to last Friday’s sermons…. so most of those in the villages are with the great Ibrahim ben Ali! Malaysia Boleh!

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