Malaysia

Interfaith panel: Johor seminar issue ‘resolved’ with title change

By Yow Hong Chieh
April 02, 2012

File photo of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak hosting a muhibbah luncheon for members of the Cabinet interfaith committee in September 2010. Azman Amin is on the extreme right. — Picture by Choo Choy MayFile photo of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak hosting a muhibbah luncheon for members of the Cabinet interfaith committee in September 2010. Azman Amin is on the extreme right. — Picture by Choo Choy MayKUALA LUMPUR, April 2 — The issue of the Johor seminar, originally centred on the “threat of Christianisation” to Islam, has been settled after its organisers agreed to change its title, says the Cabinet’s special interfaith panel.

The Special Committee to Promote Inter-Religious Understanding and Harmony said it considered the matter “resolved” following the last-minute amendment on Friday, a day before the seminar took place.

Committee chairman Datuk Azman Amin Hassan told The Malaysian Insider that the Johor Education Department had agreed to the title change after the panel stepped in on Thursday.

“We made an intervention. I contacted the D-G (director-general) of Education before they agreed to change the names of the seminar and also the certificate of attendance...

“So to me, it has been resolved. For the future we should make sure we avoid (organising) such events,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Azman Amin commended the Education Department director-general for his swift response to the panel’s request, noting that the latter was in the US at the time.

“I called him (on Thursday) and I couldn’t get him, but I sent a message and that evening itself he got the state directors to change it...

“I hope no other groups will use titles which may hurt the feelings (of other religionists),” he said.

Some 300 religious teachers from Johor national schools attended the seminar entitled “Strengthening the Faith: What is the Role of Teachers?” which was held in the state capital Johor Baru on Saturday.

The seminar had attracted controversy among non-Muslims earlier for focusing on the alleged threat of Christianisation to Islam.

Its original title — “Strengthening the Faith: The Dangers of Liberalism and Pluralism and the Threat of Christianity towards Muslims. What is the Role of Teachers?” — was changed after much outcry from non-Muslim religious groups.

The seminar was organised by the State Education Department and the office of the Johor Mufti to ensure that Muslims will not be “confused” by alleged bids to convert them.