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December 22, 2004

No invite for Jesus to Malaysian Christmas

Topics: International News

To protect "Muslim sensibilities" Kuala Lumpur has banned the name of Jesus and nativity scenes from Christmas celebrations, or have they? With Muslim's holding a small majority of the population and the control of the government, we see how tolererant Muslims are to other faiths. Here in America where more than 80% of our population are Christians, Muslims are allowed to not only practice their faith but preach hatred and violence from their pulpits. Do you have any questions?

KUALA LUMPUR - In multi-ethnic Malaysia, where Muslims make up a slim majority and control the government but where there are also sizeable Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities, news that the government would ban any reference to Jesus in hymns and Christian symbols like the nativity scene from its Christmas Day open house, was destined to ruffle some feathers.

According to reports, the request to ban the mention of Jesus at the public Christmas celebration at Petaling Jaya on December 25 - held in the presence of King Syed Sirajuddin and Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi - was made in order to "protect Muslim sensibilities".

At first the state-neutered press ignored the story; it generally considers race and religion too sensitive to discuss. But with a swelling number of postings to websites, blogs and e-mail chat groups questioning the logic of the decision - and by way, the substance of Malaysia's brand of "tolerance and diversity" - it wasn't long before the mainstream media weighed in.

"In the end," declared an editorial in a ruling-party paper on Monday, "it turned out to be a case of much ado about nothing." Mere "rumors", the paper added.

Evidence points to the contrary. But this response, along with church officials' concurrence with it - despite the fact that the same church leaders charged the government with usurping Christmas in the first place - are a window into the tendency to truncate discussion on racial and religious differences; they provide a closer look at how this inclination has worked to both preserve and undermine national unity here.

Neighboring Singapore's former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew once said he felt relieved not to have had to govern Malaysia, with all  the challenges involved in keeping its various groups contented. It was an indirect compliment to Malaysian eadership; Malaysia hasn't undergone large-scale racial      violence since 1969. And it was no doubt toward preserving this trend that government representatives, according to church leaders close to the discussions, requested that Jesus' name and representative symbols be banned from the official Christmas ceremony.

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Posted by Hyscience at December 22, 2004 3:48 PM

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