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Centhra’s fondness to scapegoat evangelicalism — Joshua Woo Sze Zeng

JULY 4 — The CEO of Centre for Human Rights Research and Advocacy (Centhra), Azril Mohd Amin has recently said that Christian evangelicalism should be banned because there were 400 Muslims who have converted to Christianity. 

This is, according to him, a matter of “national security,” and it is against Article 11(4) of the Federal Constitution that forbids the propagation of other religion except Islam to Muslims in the country.

National Security?

Assuming that there were indeed 400 Malaysians who have switched to attending church, how is that a national security concern? 

The language of national security refers to serious threat to the sovereignty of an independent country and/or the lives of citizens of a nation. As such, terrorism is a matter of national security. 

To say that religious conversion is a national security concern implies that conversion is akin to act of terrorism. 

According to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s lecturer Razaleigh Muhamat Kawangit, there were 4,581 non-Muslims who have converted to Islam from 2002 to 2012 through Pertubuhan Kebajikan Islam Malaysia (Perkim).

If religious conversion is similar to terrorism, then Azril should all the more call for the ban on dakwah activity (propagation of Islam) and stop institutions like Perkim as they have committed “act of terrorism” ten times more than evangelicalism. 

Or, is he thinking that it is okay for people to be a member of a mosque, but being a member of a church is akin to joining a terrorist cell? 

In any case, how did the CEO of a research centre come to see conversion to Christianity on par with terrorism is really beyond common sense. 

Against Article 11(4)?

Azril alleged that the cause of the 400 conversions was due to local Christians’ propagation to Muslims, which is against Article 11(4). 

In the present information age, people have easy access to knowledge of all religions. We can read up on the Internet or books, or watch online videos or listen to podcast to learn about whichever religion that we are curious about. We can even have online chat with people from other countries to learn about other faiths. 

Moreover, people are also highly mobile nowadays. We can learn about other religions while traveling, working, or during student exchange programme overseas. We can also learn simply through casual chit-chat with friends from other religions, or by attending interfaith event.  

What individuals want to do with the knowledge they have about other religions is entirely up to themselves. If they choose to stay in their own religion, that is their liberty. If they choose to convert, that is also their liberty. 

I think none of these is against Article 11(4) of the Constitution, unless one ridiculously believe that this rule should also forbid Muslims and non-Muslims from exchanging information about their own religion.

Ignoring these other possibilities and fault the local Christians’ propagation work as the cause of Muslims’ conversion, so much so as to call for the banning of evangelical groups, seems to be an attempt to scapegoat the local Christians. 

Why does the CEO of Centhra harbour such fondness to scapegoat local Christians remains a mystery. Unless it is bigotry.

I have pointed out in an earlier article that Azril had very ill-informed ideas about “evangelicalism.” His latest remark has shown that he has more of such ideas on other things. 

* Joshua Woo Sze Zeng is a municipal councillor with the Seberang Prai municipal council (MPSP) and an alumni of Cambridge University’s Inter-Faith Programme. 

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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