KUALA LUMPUR - Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad may have missed the point when he defended Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali's "burn the Malay Bible" remark, a leading Sabah Umno politician said.
State assembly Speaker Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak said that while old and tattered copies of the Quran, which could no longer be read, must be burned to ensure they are not treated like trash and thrown into dustbins, burning copies of the Quran as a mark of protest was unacceptable, especially if done by non-Muslims.
"In this instance, we are talking about Muslims burning Bibles to protest Christians using 'Allah' in the Bible," Salleh, a former chief minister, wrote in his blog (http://ssk.blogspot.com).
"This is not meant as a mark of respect, like Muslims burning old and tattered Quran," he added.
Ibrahim caused a national furore when he reportedly made the controversial remark in January, last year, when criticising certain people who allegedly distributed Bibles containing the word "Allah" to SMK Jelutong students in Penang.
On Thursday, Dr Mahathir, responding to the media at an event here, said Muslims were allowed to burn old and worn-out copies of the Quran, but were forbidden to throw it around or step on them.
"They should show respect for the Bible, and if they are burning it the way they burn the Quran, then that is permitted," Dr Mahathir was quoted as saying.
Sepanggar MP Datuk Datuk Jumat Idris said: "If the burning of old Bibles is conducted in good faith, like that of the Quran, it is okay. But not when it is done in a provocative manner."
Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin said although he did not think what Ibrahim said was right, the Perkasa leader had the right to say it.
"He did not say burn all Bibles. If that was the case, it would have been wrong. He only said the Bibles being distributed to the students should be burned."
Penampang MP Darrell Leiking said Ibrahim should use more peaceful methods to resolve the issue than spark racial tensions.
"While there might be no problem for Muslims to burn old copies of the Quran, I doubt the same is applicable for the Bible since it contains the Words of God for Christians," he said.