This is not a great day for freedom of expression after what happened in KL this morning.
The Home Affairs Ministry has issued a show-cause letter (on 16 July) to the publishers of The Herald, an editorial in tomorrow’s edition of the Catholic weekly newspaper has revealed.
The paper was accused of committing two offences:
- it has not followed the concept of “focusing” on religion
- it carried an article that purportedly degraded the religion of Islam
In reply to an earlier warning letter from the Ministry, the editorial in The Herald remarked that the Ministry had not defined the concept of “religion” in the application form for a publishing permit. Neither is there a definition in the Constitution. So, the publishers asked the Ministry to point out where they had gone wrong. No reply.
The editorial also maintained that the article in question “America and Jihad – where do they stand?” in no way degrades any religion; it was the writer’s analysis of the global political situation “for informed and educated people”. (I have not read the article myself so I am unable to comment on it.)
The Home Ministry noted that The Herald also carries articles that have political content.
The editorial responded with one simple question: “Who killed Jesus? If we read the trial of Jesus, we can easily notice how politically charged that scene was….
“If we read the announcement of Jesus’ mission for the people in Luke 4:16-20, there we will see that there isn’t much of an issue with the concept of politics.”
The verses are as follows:
16 He came to Nazara, where he had been brought up, and went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day as he usually did. He stood up to read,
17 and they handed him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll he found the place where it is written:
18 The spirit of the Lord is on me, for he has anointed me to bring the good news to the afflicted. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives, sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
19 to proclaim a year of favour from the Lord.
20 He then rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the assistant and sat down. And all eyes in the synagogue were fixed on him.
The editorial goes on to note: “The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle says in his book Politics that ethics and politics are closely linked, and that a truly ethical life can only be lived by someone who participates in politics.”