KOTA KINABALU - A group representing Sabah churches is urging the Government to hold more interfaith dialogues to promote better understanding among the religions in the country.
Sabah Council of Churches president Datuk Jerry Dusing said incidents such as the protest which saw some 50 people demanding the removal of a cross at a church in Taman Medan usually stemmed from ignorance.
It would be counterproductive, he said, to penalise ignorance with legal action against the protesters.
"Humiliation only breeds more hate. Rather, we trust that if the protesters were to understand the true meaning of the cross - regardless of whether they agree with the rest of the Christian faith or not - they would not perceive it as anything other than a symbol of the love and mercy of God.
"Let us look forward to more dialogues to foster genuine understanding with our fellow Malaysians," said Dusing, who heads the Borneo Evangelical Church (SIB).
Separately, in London, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said there was no room for religious or racial bigotry in Malaysia.
"We, in Sabah, do not want any display of religious intolerance in this harmonious state of ours," he said after witnessing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing ceremony between University College Yayasan and Salford University, Sheffield College and City of Oxford College at the Malaysian High Commission in London yesterday.
Musa was responding to the issue of protesters demanding the removal of a cross from a neighbourhood church in Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya.
He said in Sabah the culture of mutual respect and acceptance of the different ethnicities, cultures and religions must be upheld.
"If only we all can embrace such values, peace and harmony will prevail," added the chief minister.
In Kuala Lumpur, MIC central working committee member Datuk A. Henry Benedict said the group of protesters should have followed proper procedures and lodge reports with the authorities if they were unhappy with the cross at the church.
Henry also called on Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to step down for his subsequent statement that the Sedition Act would not be used and no action would be taken against the group.