…. or in other words, there is no real religious freedom in our country.
every year in our church, come the lent season, the penang office for human development (POHD)t will launch the lenten campaign. all the churches in the diocese of penang will then organised activities or something to raise the awareness of lenten campaign.
basically, lent period is the 40 days before easter, and in this 40 days, catholics are to observe fasting, alms giving, good deeds and prayer (in preparation for easter). to make people aware of what they should do during the lent season, the lenten campaign is launched. materials are provided by POHD to help in the lenten campaign. every year, there will be banners, posters, flyers and envelopes (for donations). every year, there will be a different theme. this year, the theme is ‘light a life… as a family’.
ok, now where does the heading of my post comes in, you asked. well, take a look at the poster for this year. what did you see? in keeping with the theme, the picture is suppose to portray a family giving some aid to another family. look carefully… what do you find wrong? er… no, nothing’s wrong to me! so i should ask what do you think the extremist muslims and ‘too careful’ christians find it wrong? the woman on the left (the one receiving the aid) wears a tudung… which obviously shows she is a muslim.
all the churches in the diocese of penang are suppose to put up the posters (and banners and distribute the flyers – which also contain the same ‘family’ picture). the priest in one of the church decided not to put up the poster because “i don’t want the muslim to come to my church, throwing stones.”
it’s because of the ‘tudung’ woman, if the banner is displayed, people will start thinking why are we catholics helping muslim. people on both side, mind you. the extremist muslim won’t like the idea of catholics helping their brothers and sisters, while the ‘too careful, trying to please everyone’ catholics will wonder why we (actually meaning POHD) have the picture of a malay up, which will provoke some kind of action from the muslim. they remember too well the cow-head incident, the burning of churches incident and so on. that’s why some were fearful something will happened if the banner is displayed in front of the church.
on the other hand, we also have some catholics who asked why are we helping the muslim when we should help our own catholics…. BUT then you will also hear some catholics saying, why should we only help our own catholcis, when we should help those of other faith too. in fact, we do help people of other faith of course but we do it quietly. this – the displaying of the banner (including distributing the flyers) – they said is too public.
so what is the answer then? churches that fear actions from extremist muslim will either NOT put up the banner or will re-do the banner.
i totally disagree with the priest and many of my catholic friends too who said, yes, we should not display the banner, we must be careful, we don’t want any trouble, blah blah blah. if they decided on this – not to display the banner (or redo the banner) means… well, as my heading said it – but bear in mind, this is my OWN personal opinion – they are living in fear of extremist muslim. yes, if that’s the case, it means, we can’t practise our religion freely because of the fear of extremist breathing down our neck. sad, isn’t it. sad.