Rebuffed by keepers of his own faith when he tried to preach at a mosque last month, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was welcomed with open arms at the church of the Holy Family in Kajang after the English and Mandarin masses today.
Parish priest Father George Harrison welcomed the opposition leader as "our brother" before he gave the floor to Anwar, who vowed the 1,200-strong crowd with his 25-minute speech on various issues.
But it was Anwar's bold and direct approach to answering the questions from the congregation that impressed the crowd.
When he was asked about his stand on the religious issues currently
affecting the country and the rights of Bahasa Malaysia-speaking
Christians to use the word Allah, Anwar said that even international
Muslim scholars thought it was a subject unworthy of debate.
"When I asked an international scholar about it, he asked me what kind of question that was.
"I told him it was Umno's question, so he explained that Muslims recite
five times a day: "Praise be to Allah, Lord of Heaven and Earth.
"So, if Allah is Lord for the entire universe, how can there be limitations?" Anwar pointed out.
He also stressed that for Umno, the Allah issue was clearly not about faith.
"If it was, then their stand must be binding on all. But in this case
they are saying Sabah and Sarawak can use the word but not in the
peninsula," Anwar said to loud cheers.
He then joked that this
meant that a person who boarded a flight from Kuching to Kuala Lumpur
will say "Insyallah I'm going to KL" when he gets on the flight but when
he lands, he will have to say "Alhamdu Lord".
of the Catholics at the Holy Family church hall comes amidst religious
tension between Muslims and Christians which was reignited last year
when the Court of Appeal had ruled in October that the Catholic weekly
Herald could not use the word Allah in its publication.
The church is appealing the decision.
Herald had won a High Court decision in January 2009 that had
overturned the Home Ministry's ban on the use of the word Allah in its