DAP Senator Ariffin Omar today denied he supports the formation of a Christian state in Penang, and said those who believe so are intellectually incapable of discussing the matter.
“It is quite out of context altogether,” he told Malaysiakini.
Ariffin is under fire for allegedly stating so during a debate in the Dewan Negara on April 21.
He said he had, in fact, asked a rhetorical question to challenge Umno Senator Ibrahim Shah Abu Shah’s claim of a stealth movement to form a “Christian city” of Penang.
“They say I agreed to having a Christian city. What I said, in a sarcastic manner, was to point out that the person raising this is intellectually deficient.
“What does he mean a Christian city? There is no Christian city in the world.
“And if some smart alec wants to set up a Christian city, he needs to change the constitution,” Ariffin, a historian, said.
According to the Hansard, Ariffin had interjected Ibrahim Shah, who was quoting a book claiming that “a plot had been hatched, among the state’s Christians, to make Penang a ‘Christian state’.”
To this, Ariffin said: “Apa salahnya kalau Penang hendak dijadikan Christian city, kena ubah Perlembagaan Pulau Pinang… Kalau tidak ubah, macam mana hendak jadi Christian state?”
(What is the problem with wanting Penang to be a Christian city? They’ll need to then change the Penang constitution… If not, how can they form a Christian state?)
PAS condemns ‘loss of dignity’
The issue was first highlighted by an anonymously-published Muslim issues blog, Menara.my.
Following that, Umno mouthpiece Umno Online quoted student group Gabungan Pelajar Melayu Semenanjung (GMPS) as condemning Ariffin.
PAS information chief Nasruddin Hassan also responded by saying that Ariffin’s remark was a “clear signal” that a Christianisation movement by radical evangelical Christians was underway.
“Sadly, there are Muslims who defend this. They have lost their sensitivity and dignity. They have exchanged their faith for money and position,” Nasruddin said in a statement.
Ariffin said the episode also shows “the shallowness” of his detractors.
Particularly he took issue with Ibrahim Shah, who is a professor in the field of politics and former Universiti Teknologi Mara vice-chancellor.
He said the book cited by Ibrahim Shah – “The Lion of Judah – Dominionism and Christian Zionism in Malaysia” by Iain Buchanan – is a “most discredited book”.
“No academic in the right mind would want to evaluate that book,” he said.
Ariffin said Buchanan’s book was on the same league as the fabricated text, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, which was published in Russia in 1903 to disseminate anti-Semitic views. The book claims to be a roadmap to global Jewish hegemony.
He said Ibrahim Shah was relying on Buchanan’s book without rigorous analysis.
“If you are a professor, why not analyse it and come with your own analysis?
“He (Ibrahim Shah) talks in a flippant manner. Christian city? It’s laughable.
“There is nothing to fall back on,” Ariffin added.