Academics demand answers from UiTM over bogus priest, nun
They also urged the police to take immediate action against the organisers for bringing in the “dubious” characters, which they said had strained interfaith ties in the country.
“It was bad enough for them to have organised this seminar without inviting the other party (Christian experts) to ensure a healthy debate,” said Dr Mujahid Yusof Rawa, a PAS lawmaker and member of the National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC), "but now we learn that the Bishops Conference of Indonesia has denied the two speakers were even a priest or a nun. So what was the actual aim of the organisers?
“They must explain why they brought these speakers to the seminar – perhaps they have information about the speakers that the Bishops Confederation of Indonesia does not. If they keep quiet, then I assume their motives are unclear, or even ill-intentioned,” said Mujahid.
The Bishops Conference of Indonesia executive secretary Father Edy Purwanto had revealed today that he had no information or data on Insan L.S. Mokoginta, a speaker at the May 6 seminar, who had claimed he was a Catholic priest before converting to Islam in 1976.
Mokoginta had spoken on "The Threat of Christianisation" at the seminar and further said that "every follower of Jesus should convert to Islam otherwise it would be a betrayal to Him".
Checks on another speaker, Irena Handono, who claimed she was a former Catholic nun, also showed that it was not true as she did not complete her "education".
Purwanto said checks by the Indonesian church revealed that Irena was only briefly with the Congregation of the Ursuline Sisters as a novice.
Another "suspect" speaker at the seminar was Prof Dr Menehim Ali, who was was listed as "Pakar Kristologi Universitas Bandung" in UiTM's souvenir programme.
A google search found no such university. What comes up instead is a list of universities in Bandung city itself.
It is unclear, however, if Menehim goes by any other name, as in its report on the seminar, national news agency Bernama had identified him as Prof Dr Menachem Ali, an Islamic Philology and Semitic Studies academician at the Airlangga University, Surabaya, East Jawa.
At the seminar, Menehim had also reportedly said that the word Allah should only be used by Muslims as it originated from the Quran and was never mentioned in the original Bible.
Mujahid told The Malaysian Insider today that UiTM’s credibility was now at stake, and the university must clarify whether it had been used by other parties for this programme, or that it had organised the seminar itself.
“It would be a huge disappointment if this institution had allowed itself to be used by other parties with bigger motives. But if UiTM itself organised the seminar, then it was very careless of them not to have verified the credibility of the speakers. Either that, or it had other motives.”
Islamic activist and reformist Dr Chandra Muzaffar called for severe action to be taken against the organisers should they be found guilty of allowing the speakers to conduct the seminar under false pretences.
“The authorities should act, and with this new information, they have no excuse not to investigate this issue. It is dangerous because you are using dubious characters to fuel religious sentiments, and creating unnecessary tension in the country.
“The organisers must be held to account and appropriate action should be taken because it involves inter-religious ties and inter-religious issues tend to incite certain sentiments,” he said.
Chandra, who is president of the International Movement for a Just World and chairman of Yayasan 1 Malaysia, said that UiTM must “at the very least” apologise for exposing its students to the frauds, now that the truth had been revealed.
“I demand an explanation from UiTM for providing a platform for these individuals. More importantly, the organisers should be held responsible for bringing in individuals like this.
“It is an institution of higher learning, and it has to protect its integrity. Something like this should not be allowed to happen and a university should not be used like this.”
Former mufti of Perlis Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said he would wait for UiTM's explanation before commenting on the issue.
UiTM's Academy of Contemporary Islamic Studies (ACIS) dean Professor Dr Muhamad Rahimi Osman had declined to comment when asked about the two Indonesian speakers.
"The case is under police investigation so I will not comment," he had told The Malaysian Insider.
UiTM vice-chancellor Tan Sri Datuk Sri Professor Sahol Hamid Abu Bakar could not be reached for comments.
UiTM had previously said the seminar was organised to increase the understanding of Muslims about the issues surrounding the debate on the use of the word Allah by non-Muslims.
Speakers at the seminar had also warned of undercover Christian priests who were sent to Malaysia under different guises to proselytise and convert Muslims.
Copies of books published by the Selangor Islamic Council (Mais) on the threat of Christianisation and alleged evangelism among Muslims in Malaysia were also distributed to those present that day.
The book entitled "Pendedahan Agenda Kristian" warned Muslims to watch out for "tricks" by Christians to sway them from their faith.
The book also claimed that the main reason there was apostasy among Muslims was because of Christianisation.
Another book, titled "Obligation to preserve the sanctity of the name Allah", explained why non-Muslims, in particular Christians, cannot be allowed to use the word Allah.
The seminar was jointly organised by the Academy of Contemporary Islamic Studies, UiTM, Warisan Ibnu Aaby and the Selangor Islamic Council with the support of Utusan Malaysia, Kumpulan Karangkraf, TV Al-Hijrah, Zikay Group and Pantai Bharu Group of Companies. – May 19, 2014.
Now we wait for the police to take action or rather drag their feet and make a feeble effort and call it a day.