Protesters stay away from Selangor churches

Protesters stay away from Selangor churches
Muslim Protestors display a banner during a demonstration against a Malaysian Catholic newspaper using the word 'Allah' at the court of appeal in Putrajaya, outside Kuala Lumpur on October 14, 2013.

KLANG: Cool heads prevailed as the anticipated intention by Muslim groups to protest outside several churches in the state over the use of the word "Allah" by non-Muslims simmered down.

A coalition of Muslim non-governmental organisations, however, staged a peaceful protest at the Sultan Sulaiman Stadium, about a kilometre from the Our Lady of Lourdes Church here yesterday, but there were no confrontations.

The 8am Mass at the church was packed with more people than usual attending the service.

A small group comprising people of various beliefs also gathered outside the church at about 8.30am to show their support to the Christian community.

Its members handed bouquets of flowers to the parish priest, Father Michael Chua, after the Mass.

Social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir, who was among them, said the show of solidarity by Malaysians of different religions and races with the Christians demonstrated that Malaysians were united.

"We will resist any attempt to disunite us," said Marina, who is also a National Unity Consultative Council (NUCC) member.

She said the majority of Malaysians were beyond the apparent strife and questioned the absence of the country's leadership at such a time.

"They (the people in authority) have been letting this happen. They should speak up. Our leadership should not be silent.

"Parishioners at the church were relieved that the planned protest did not take place."

Flight supervisor John Johnson, 58, said he was happy that churchgoers were not disturbed during their time of worship.

"It is also nice to see people of other beliefs showing their support," he said.

Meanwhile, at St Anne's in Port Klang, the first Sunday Mass of the year saw the church filled to the brim by parishioners. It was standing room only for those who arrived late.

Father Lawrence Andrew, the editor of the Catholic weekly The Herald, delivered his sermon in English and Bahasa Malaysia.

Father Lawrence, who appeared calm during the service and after, said he was happy with the turnout and thanked the police for monitoring the situation outside the church.

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