The Malaysian government has decided that the annual Christmas celebration that will be celebrated by approximately 50,000 Malaysians will be done so without reference to Jesus Christ. The celebration is held in the presence of the King Syed Sirajuddin and Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi – heads of the officially Islamic state. In order to “protect Muslim sensibilities,” in other words, to not offend Muslims, there can be neither biblical references nor the Nativity portrayed at the celebration.
The Council, an umbrella group for the nation’s churches, agreed to go along with the request by state officials not to sing hymns or carols that overtly mention Jesus at the night of the celebration.
Officials denied responsibility for the oppression, saying that ‘moderate Muslims’ were concerned “Muslim clerics might exploit the situation and raise the fundamentalist ire.”
O.C. Lim is an outspoken Kuala Lampur priest who is outraged at the church’s complacency. “It is outrageous, scandalous and sacrilegious” he said of the agreement to accept these rules.
Father Lim wrote a letter to the Council expressing his disapproval of the decision: “as the son of God, Jesus cannot be downgraded to the status of a cultural sage such as Confucius.” Using Christmas for political purposes is, in his view, an ‘abomination’ and Malaysian Christians should “stand up in the name of Jesus.”
Although the constitution of Malaysia guarantees freedom of worship, Islam is the official state religion. In order to avoid offending the Malaysian king, carolers will sing and praise Jesus only before he arrives and takes part in the celebrations.
Malaysia currently has a population of 25 million. Muslims make up 53 per cent, while Christians only make up 6.5 per cent of the population.