Malaysia Catholics accept 'desecration' apology
8 March 2010, Monday
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - -- Catholic authorities in Malaysia on Sunday accepted an apology from a Muslim magazine after its writers took part in a Catholic service and allegedly desecrated the communion wafer. "We accept the public apology. It is laudable," Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of the Catholic "Herald" newspaper, told AFP. "We trust they will not repeat it. We are not holding any grudges."
Two journalists from the "Al Islam" magazine took the wafer and spat it out after entering a Catholic church to investigate claims that Muslims were illegally converting to Christianity. "Al Islam magazine apologizes because the article had unintentionally hurt the feelings of Christians, especially Catholics," it said on its website Utusan Karya on Friday.
"It is also not the intention of Al Islam to insult the Christian religion nor to desecrate their house of worship," said the monthly magazine which reports on issues concerning Malaysian Muslims. The apology came after the archbishop of Kuala Lumpur Murphy Pakiam criticized the government's "failure to act" over the incident. "The journalists have displayed utmost disrespect for the Catholic community when they admit receiving and spitting out the Holy Communion," he said.
However, Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail defended the handling of the incident, saying the pair did not understand the significance of the wafer, which Catholics believe represents the body of Jesus Christ.
Muslim-majority Malaysia has been beset by religious disputes in recent months. The multi-ethnic country was hit with a spate of fire bombings against churches and mosques in January, triggered by a dispute over the use of the word "Allah" as a translation for "God" by non-Muslims. The rows have strained relations between majority Muslim Malays and minorities including ethnic Chinese and Indian communities who fear the country is being "Islamised". About nine percent of Malaysia's 28 million population are Christians, including 850,000 Catholics.