Considerably fewer than one million people have showed up to the so-called ‘Gathering of a Million Faithful‘ — only about 5,000 are reported to be in attendance. No word if the organizers intend to give their event a more accurate name; I suppose a more accurate moniker such as ‘Gathering of Five Thousand Faithful ‘ would have a lot less panache. Those in attendance include at least one local politician, Hassan Ali, who is noteworthy for having steadfastly defended the religious police raid on a Christian church in the Kuala Lumpur area in August, as well as the leader of a Malaysian jihadist and Muslim supremacist group called Perkasa (Malay for ‘power’ or ‘strength’). Of course, event organizers had no problem obtaining a government permit for their rally; quite unlike another non Muslim Malaysian group earlier this year that tried (and failed) to obtain government permission to have a public event. “Himpun gets underway at Shah Alam Stadium,” The Star, 22 October 2011:
SHAH ALAM: Himpun (Himpunan Sejuta Umat Islam) [‘Gathering of a Million Faithful’] got underway at the Shah Alam Stadium with speeches and the singing of religious songs Saturday.
Among the VIPs at the gathering were Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali and Selangor executive councillor Datuk Hassan Ali.
The people had arrived since noon under an overcast sky. Most media organisations reported the number of people present at 5,000. The stadium can seat 88,000. Participants at the rally were also seen with brochures titled Siapa bertanggung jawab kristiankan Melayu diSelangor (Who is responsible for Christianing the Malays in Selangor).
Event organizers have given their word that this event is ‘non political‘.