An update on this story. Apparently the official word is that there will be “no further conditions” placed on the importation or local production of Bibles in Sabah and Sarawak, two provinces with major Christian populations. Outside of those two provinces, the language required on the covers of Bibles that said things to the effect of “Only for Christians” has been softened to “Christian Publication,” though the intent is still obvious.
Have we heard the last of this? Almost certainly not, for as long as this story has dragged on. This report does not mention the matter of the use of the word “Allah” for “God,” which has always been a prime sticking point. There will likely be fine print, loopholes with which to revisit the “Allah” issue, and selective implementation. And that doesn’t take into account the potential response of Malaysia’s Islamic supremacists (when they’re not busy blaming their wives for not having sex with them).
It remains to be seen whether the government will keep its word and stand up to pressure from Muslims whose paranoia — in their supposed show of strength — gives the appearance they are afraid their faith cannot sustain itself in the face of free access to the Bible. “Kuala Lumpur authorizes importation and printing of the Bible in any language,” from Asia News, April 9:
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews / Agencies) – The Malaysian government has authorized the importation of the Bible in all languages into the country and for it to be printed locally. The authorities have assured Christians that they will not demand any stamp or serial number on imported Bibles. These decisions are part of a 10 point solution to the dispute over the Malay language Bibles.
The government announced that there will be no further conditions placed on the importation or local printing of Bibles for Sabah and Sarawak, in recognition of the large Christian communities in these states. But instead there will be a condition for Bibles imported or printed locally on the peninsula of Malaysia. These Bibles will have a cross on the cover and the words “Christian Publication.” This decision takes into account the interests of the majority Muslim community in the Malaysian peninsula.
The government has also announced that there should be no prohibitions or restrictions on people who travel between Sabah and Sarawak and the Malaysian peninsula with their Bibles. The Interior Ministry issued a directive on the Bible and officers who fail to apply it will be subject to disciplinary action. The government has also allowed importers to take delivery of the 35,100 Bibles locked in Kuching and Port Klang, at no cost.
Datuk Seri Idris Jala, a spokesman for the government said that “in spite of our shortcomings in the management of this Bible issue, we hope that Christians will forgive us,” and added that there is a need for care, forgiveness and reconciliation among Malaysians, “despite all the wounds created by our differences.” The Bible Society of Malaysia has accepted the solution proposed by the government. Its president, Lee Min Choon, in a statement said they were “deeply touched by the government’s humility in admitting its shortcomings in its management of the problem and in asking for forgiveness.” “The Bible Society of Malaysia forgives, without hesitation,” he said.
A study in contrasts.