Yesterday began with some trepidation but in the end bridge-builders trumped would-be ‘Bible-burners’ with a series of unexpected initiatives to seize the day. Here is the story in pictures.
Uniformed and plainclothes police, MPSP enforcement personnel and journalists kept a sharp lookout at the Butterworth padang – but no one turned up. In the background, to the right of the petrol station, is the four-storey Butterworth Police Station.
Meanwhile, up north in Perlis, Parit Buntar MP Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Tasik Gelugor Pas information chief Abdul Rahman Kasim were interacting with seminarian Bro. Louis Loi and a participant before kicking off a dialogue with about 30 parishioners at the Church of Our Lady of Fatima in Kangar.
The photo above shows a participant at the dialogue in Kangar querying Mujahid on Pas’ stand on the rights of people of other faiths. Mujahid responds: “Pas guarantees the rights based on the spirit of the Federal Constitution. Islam as the raison d’etere of this country does not mean other faiths are oppressed. The recognition of other teachings known to the Malaysian environment is given by Article 11, and Pas will stick to the rights by improving it through dialogues and talks.”
Later, at noon, a group of young Malaysians gathered at the Esplanade in Penang to read and reflect on various religious and spiritual texts – under the watchful eye of a group of plainclothes police and journalists. The reflections were facilitated by actress Mislina Mustaffa (wearing a red scarf).
Simultaneously, in the Klang Valley, a similar reading festival was held at the KLCC park. The event, attended by about 40 people, was organised by Masjaliza Hamzah of the Centre for Independent Journalism.
Later in the afternoon, Pas spiritual adviser Nik Aziz Nik Mat celebrated his 82nd birthday at the residence of Karpal Singh, which lies smack in the middle of the most congested Thaipusam route, Western Road. It’s a small miracle his convoy made it through – though a special permit helped.
Finally, at 6.30pm, Nik Aziz held a closed-door meeting in his hotel suite with Bishop Sebastian Francis of the Diocese of Penang – to draw the day’s events to a fitting close.
A final thought: should we have a law (following due process) against any clear-cut or obvious attempts at inciting ethnic or religious hatred i.e. hate crimes?
In any case, blessed are the peace-makers.
Now, can we go back to finding out more about what happened with the registration of those voters in Sabah in the 1990s – and the state of our electoral rolls today?