Muslims protect Malaysian archbishop from hecklers in show of unity

Muslims protect Malaysian archbishop from hecklers in show of unity
PHOTO: The Star/Asia News Network

KUCHING - There was a show of religious camaraderie outside the courtroom here when Catholic Archbishop of Kuching Simon Poh exited the courtroom after the Federal Court decision on the jurisdiction of apostasy cases.

A group of aggressive youths confronted him but, in a heartwarming scene, many Muslims surrounded the smiling archbishop and escorted him out of the complex, keeping the aggressive youths at arm's length.

Poh said he was "not rattled" by the heckling youths, who were also Muslims, and called for religious harmony to prevail.

"There were many good people around to make sure I was okay. In Sarawak, we work as friends to maintain harmony in our state.

"Let us not allow emotions to overcome everything. I'm sure the state authorities are watching and we will do our best to rebuild harmony," he said.

Poh was earlier seen hugging two Muslim clerics after the apex court ruled that only the Syariah Court had the jurisdiction to hear apostasy cases.

A large crowd of Muslim supporters, who turned up at the courthouse, cheered loudly after the ruling was declared.

Kuching police chief ACP Abang Ahmad Abang Julai said the heckling was an isolated incident by a few youths who got carried away.

"There was no attack on the archbishop. In fact, a group protected him as he left the court and walked to the car.

"Overall, the situation was under control and nobody was hurt," he said.

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