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ACCIN Press statement on National Conference on Initiative Towards the Formation of the INTER-FAITH COMMISSION (IFC) held at Bangi, February 2005

This Press Statement is issued to disabuse the public of any impression created in and by the Press principally, The Sun and The Star, that ACCIN (and other Islamic groups and Muslims influenced by us) stayed away from the conference for no valid reason, and the suggestion by the Hon’ble Minister for Rais Yatim that any misgivings and objections that ACCIN had could be expressed only at the conference.

Representatives of ACCIN have attended several meetings of the steering committee to set up the Inter-faith Commission, and informed the organizers of their inability to support any form of inter-religious dialogue that involved questioning the teachings of any religion by any one, follower or not.

The IFC was intended to be an anti-Islam body initiated by the non-Muslims of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism (MCCBCHS) to challenge, in the guise of Freedom of Religion, certain, fundamental Islamic teachings e.g. against apostasy.

This intention is manifested in the Memorandum submitted by the MCCBCHS to the Bar Council, and in The Sun interview with Mr. Harcharan Singh as President of the MCCBCHS, published on the 29th and 30th January just before the Conference. They were also told that Article 11 of the Federal Constitution gave them no rights in respect of other religions including Islam. Article 11 reads: “Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion ...”

They were advised that given its avowed intention of interferingwith Islam, the IFC would imperil rather than ensure communal harmony. To all our objections the organizers had only one standard response: come to the workshop (which they had earlier), and then, the conference to express your views. Our views were well known to them just as their ulterior anti-Islam objects were well known to us.

As they would not accommodate our views, we stayed away from the workshop and the conference. They insist on our attendance only to ensure the success of these ‘legitimizing’ events; as Muslims were also involved in the conference to set up the IFC, they would not be able to object to it later no matter what direction it took. As the conference date approached, the proposed IFC became increasingly benign. We were told that it was only for the purpose discovering common values so that an ethical and moral Bangsa Malaysia could develop! Such a dialogue (as suggested by the Hon’ble Prime Minister) had already started between ACCIN and the MCCBCHS (minus the denizens of the Malaysian Bar); parameters which we had proposed to the steering committee and rejected, were now readily accepted and the discussions began promisingly.

As the least common denominator represented the best hope of success, we agreed that we should jointly urge the government to enforce without let-up existing laws against pornography as it undermined all human beings irrespective of religion.

We look forward to welcoming our fellow Malaysians of the MCCBCHS back to the dialogue table.


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