Monday, February 21, 2011

Catholic Minister for Minorities in Pakistan

Lately, there have been so much of brouhaha by Penang UMNO over the introduction of a state executive council portfolio to handle non-Islamic religious affairs.

The Exco, which will be handled by Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, deals with religious matters related to Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism, Taoism and Hinduism.

There is currently an exco member, Batu Maung assemblyperson, Abdul Malik Abdul Kassim, who is in charge of Islamic affairs Penang.

Why such a protest is being made is anybody's guess as such a body is already operative in Perak, formed by the present Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir, headed by an MCA ADUN.

Now read the following news from Islamabad, Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim country.

President Asif Ali Zardari confirmed Shahbaz Bhatti [photo left] as Minister of Minorities, after the cabinet re-shuffle that took place following the resignation of the staff of the federal cabinet in recent days by Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani.

Bhatti is a Catholic, was the first parliamentarian to take up of the post of Minister for Minorities. His Christian predecessors were offered only minor portfolios. In recent years he has fought to amend the blasphemy law and has recently launched an initiative to seek pardon for Asia Bibi. Because of his position, Bhatti has received death threats from Islamic extremist groups that still do not want to change the law. Bhatti said: "I thank God for giving me this opportunity to continue my struggle for the oppressed minorities in Pakistan. Christians and other minorities are citizens of Pakistan and have the same rights as any other citizen, because our ancestors sacrificed their lives for this country."

According to sources close to the presidency, the government confirmed Bhatti only after strong pressure from the international community concerned about the recent cases of violence against minorities because of the blasphemy law. A young Christian man was killed in recent days in Ghakkar Mandi (Punjab), while Asia Bibi, the young Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy is still waiting for her appeal to be heard in the Court of Lahore.

Bishop Anthony Rufin of Islamabad emphasized that confirmation of Bhatti "is a positive sign for the minorities." The bishop hopes that the minister will help the government to realize the increasing oppression of Christians and Hindus and followers of other religions, often forced to leave the country in order to survive.

[Source: AsiaNews]

Another no-brainer is the usage of the greeting "Assalamu alaikum", a furore created once again by UMNO Penang after Kebun Bunga state assemblymen took to the microphone to wish a group of students at the State Assembly building. As usual, UMNO protested that such greeting is only reserved for Muslims and non-Muslims should not utter it. The commotion was made in the presence of the students. Read more here.

Now let's take a look at the following video of the new Minister for Minorities of Pakistan, Mr Shahbaz Bhatti. Although the interview was conducted in Urdu, you will notice that both he and the interviewer greeted each other at the start of the video with "Assalamu alaikum" and "Alaikum Salam". If there is no problem in Pakistan, is it really a problem here?

Many years ago while working with a bank, I made a trip to the FELDA settlement in Sungai Buaya, Rawang, which is predominantly occupied by Malays, to talk to them about investing in our banking services. Every house I visited, I greeted the host with "Assalamu alaikum" and the host would spontaneously respond with "Alaikum salam". They were even amazed that a Chinese like me was able to greet them with such formality. They really appreciated the effort I put in to conform with their culture and norms and I had no problem with that. My trip lasted seven days and I was never made to feel like a stranger by the residents.

Now the big question - what kind of 1Malaysia is UMNO talking about all this while?

1 comment:

  1. Why are comparing Malaysia to Pakistan?Open your eyes WIDELY and see whats happening in Pakistan now!