Author Topic: Tricked into converting to Islam, claim Christian villagers in remote Sabah  (Read 226 times)

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From yahoo news..

http://my.news.yahoo.com/were-tricked-converting-islam-claim-christian-villagers-remote-023531958.html


We were tricked into converting to Islam, claim Christian villagers in remote Sabah district


The small, white, nondescript wooden Protestant Church in Sabah (PCS) church in the Dusun village of Layung Maliau, in Sabah's remote Pitas district, was again packed for its Sunday service yesterday.

It has been filled to the brim since the first Sunday of 2014.

But what was strange in this revival of faith in this dirt poor village of 100 people is that a third of the worshippers are “Muslims” – or are supposed to be.

“They think they had converted us (to Islam). They are wrong. We are still Christians and our faith in God has not changed,” housewife Lenney Masangal said, explaining the presence of “Muslims” at the church.

The 41-year-old mother of three was one of 33 people from the village who claimed that they were tricked into converting into Islam for a mere RM100 on New Year's day.

They were part of a group of about 64 people, including children, from three villages in Pitas – Kampung Layung Maliau, Dowokon and Sosop – who had allegedly been converted.

Lenney Masangal said the villagers are still Christians despite the alleged conversion. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 20, 2014.Their trouble had apparently started on New Year's Eve.

A fellow villager, on returning from Pitas town, called everyone to his house to announce the “good news” that “some people from Kuala Lumpur” are giving them financial assistance.

“We all went to his house to hear how we could receive the financial assistance,” farmer Maison Bilu said.

When told that the amount would be RM800 per person, Maison was beyond excited.

The 44-year-old lost all sense of reasoning as he – there are seven of them in his family – was only thinking of how much he would be getting.

“Nobody asked who were these people giving us the financial assistance. We were only told 'people from Kuala Lumpur'. We didn't even ask the reason they are giving us this money,” Maison said.

“Everyone just wanted the money. That's all.”

Getting RM800 was like winning the lottery for the villagers who depended on subsistence farming to survive.

Maison plants tapioca, vegetables and maize to feed his family.

Like everybody else in the village, he does not plant cash crop.

The village is still without electricity and running water.

Those who could afford it have generators to light up their houses and power the all-important television sets.

To get to the village, one will first have to take a two-hour drive from Kota Kinabalu to Kota Marudu.

From Kota Marudu, its another two-hour drive up one of the state's “dog's ears” to Sungai Penipak, a major river in Pitas.

From the river, it's another long and exhausting walk of an hour or so on the dirt road left over by the company that used to harvest timber in the area.

The road is strewn with fist-sized boulders taken from the Penipak river and typical of logging roads, many sections are steep.

When it rains, the road is a slippery quagmire. When it's dry, it's dusty.

It is so remote that every one of their elected representatives in the last 50 years had never set foot in the village.

Neither had Muslim missionaries.

Maison Bilu said the villagers were told they were receiving financial aid. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 20, 2014.“We have no income of any kind. That RM800 is a lot more than BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia). Everybody was understandably excited,” Maison said.

“To get it was also easy. We just have to give our name and MyKad number to that neighbour of ours. No questions asked.

“However, we were told we have to go to Pitas town hall the next day (New Year's day) to receive the cash.”

So early the next day, the 33 villagers excitedly trudged down the dirt road for the 3km New Year walk to the river.

Once they crossed the river via a suspension bridge, three cars were waiting to take them to the town hall.

“When we reached the hall, we were told to go to the 'masjid' (mosque) instead,” Maison said.

“At the mosque, we were all treated to refreshments and then they asked for our MyKad. We were then asked to sign a form. I don't know what the form was as I could not read or write. No one explained to us what the form was.

“All of us were illiterates. I never went to school and neither did my wife,” he said of his wife Nafsiah Momin.

“So I put my finger print on the form.”

What baffled Maison was that the person who helped him put his finger print on the form did not take the form from him.

“He gave me a large envelope and inside the envelope were several smaller, coloured envelopes.

“I did not immediately open them to check what was inside as we were then told to stand in a line across the room.

Villagers in Kampung Layung Maliau, Pitas, want police to investigate their claim that they were tricked into converting to Islam. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 20, 2014.“A man then asked us to recite some words after him. I didn't understand a word he said as the words were all foreign to me.

“At the end of it, the man told us that we have converted to Islam and we are now all Muslims.

“I was shocked. I quickly dragged my wife and children out of the mosque to ask ourselves what was going on,” Maison said.

He said when he later opened the smaller envelopes, he found RM100 in the yellow envelopes and RM50 in the green envelopes.

It was only later that he found out that the RM100 were for adults and the RM50 for children.

The form that Maison still had with him was later passed to a church elder who informed him that it was a consent form and he had consented to be converted to Islam.

Jusman Masid feels cheated and sad. – The Malaysian Insider pic, January 20, 2014.To 41 year-old Jusman Masid, the whole episode made him feel sad and cheated.

“Yes, RM800 is a very large sum of money to me. I felt very happy to think that I was going to get such financial assistance.

“But only to find out later that I had been deceived for RM100 and covertly converted, I really felt cheated."

Jusman's wife Lenny said the so-called conversion meant nothing to all of them.

“We are still Christians. We still go to church every Sunday and the church has been packed since this incident.”

After more than two weeks of mental agony, Lenny said she felt “happier” now as Christian non-governmental organisations in the state had engaged a lawyer to seek legal redress and see how the villagers could get out of their religious predicament.

“I had never thought of being a Muslim and never want to be one.”

The villagers, led by the neighbour who told them of the assistance, Makadan Masabu, 54, had lodged a police report over the alleged covert conversion.

They urged police to investigate their claim of covert conversion so that they not only retain their faith as Christians but to warn others who might be similarly tricked. – January 20, 2014.

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http://my.news.yahoo.com/sabah-group-thwart-efforts-muslim-groups-convert-christians-003132766.html

Sabah group out to thwart efforts by Muslim groups to convert Christians

A Sabah non-governmental organisation is working overtime to create awareness among the largely poor and illiterate Christians in rural areas of increasing efforts by Muslim groups to convert them to Islam.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity, one of the group's coordinators told The Malaysian Insider that political parties from both sides, churches and non-Muslim NGOs have banded together to thwart conversion efforts by Muslim groups.

"Half a dozen or so Islamic NGOs are behind this forced or induced conversion. They are intent on converting as many Christians to Islam as possible," the coordinator told The Malaysian Insider.

"These groups are hoping to convert these rural Christians, a large majority of whom are illiterate, to Muslims."

The coordinator said while the majority of the NGOs were peninsula-based, the most active was a Sabah-based group.

It is a local NGO whose "missionaries" are largely the indigenous people whom they had converted.

“Being locals who speak the indigenous languages, they have an advantage over the peninsula-based Islamic NGOs,” he said.

It is understood that some of the peninsula-based Islamic NGOs active in the conversion campaign use middlemen to persuade their target group to convert.

“They will look for poor villagers in rural areas and offer inducements, very often large sums of money," said the coordinator.

Earlier this year, a group of about 64 people, including children, from three villages in the remote Pitas district – Kampung Layung Maliau, Dowokon and Sosop – claimed they were tricked into converting into Islam.

They claimed a neighbour told them “some people from Kuala Lumpur” were offering them “financial assistance” of RM800 but only if they went to Pitas to collect it.

On New Year's Day, they did. Instead of receiving the financial assistance at the Pitas town hall, they claimed they were made to go to a nearby mosque instead.

There the villagers were given RM100 and asked to put their thumbprint on a document. They were then told to stand in a line and recite some "foreign words".

The villagers claimed they only realised they were converted when some of them brought home the document and showed it to their church leaders.

Protestant Church of Sabah president Rev Jensey Mojuin told The Malaysian Insider yesterday the church elders and parish priests would meet today to discuss the alleged conversions.

“We want to hear from the parish pastors what is happening in their areas,” said Mojuin.

Mojuin said he has heard of similar reports in parishes in Kudat, Kota Marudu, Kanibongan and Paitan.

“All that we heard are from the newspapers," he said, adding that PCS has about 43,000 members.

PCS is one of the four Lutheran World Federation member churches in Malaysia. – January 22, 2014.

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http://my.news.yahoo.com/sabah-christians-band-together-stop-conversions-islam-001401841.html

Sabah Christians band together to stop conversions to Islam

A Christian group, representing various denominations in Sabah, is embarking on a major religious revival campaign following dubious attempts to convert some of their flock to Islam.

Perpaduan Anak Negeri Sabah (PAN) will go on a six-month campaign to gather indigenous Christians to unite and urge Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to speak up on the “Allah” issue for Christian Bumiputeras.

“We want the PM to say something. He is not a PM for the Malays only but a PM for everyone,” PAN chairperson Esther Golingi told The Malaysian Insider.

PAN is reviving the spirit of an old Kadazan Dusun Murut war cry “mamangkis” which was a used by their ancestors to rally warrior troops for battle.

However, Golingi said the calls now are being “contextualised as a Christian clarion call for revival.”

PAN will hold a mamangkis event in Ranau tomorrow as part of its statewide programme. It expects several hundred Christians to turn up.

PAN’s mobilisation effort comes amid reports of a group of about 64 people, including children, from three villages in the remote Pitas district – Kampung Layung Maliau, Dowokon and Sosop – being tricked into converting to Islam.

They claimed a neighbour told them “some people from Kuala Lumpur” were offering them “financial assistance” of RM800 but only if they went to Pitas to collect it.

On New Year's Day, they did. Instead of receiving the financial assistance at the Pitas town hall, they claimed they were made to go to a nearby mosque instead.

There the villagers were given RM100 and asked to put their thumbprint on a document. They were then told to stand in a line and recite some "foreign words".

The villagers claimed they only realised they were converted when some of them brought home the document and showed it to their church leaders.

Upset over broken promises by Putrajaya to Sabah when Malaysia was first formed, PAN said that it is worried that the religious freedom guaranteed in the Federal Constitution was no longer being upheld.

“We hold nothing against Islam if it was embraced with free choice. But we condemn such conversions as they were done through deceit, intimidation or bribery,” she said.

“We want to worship God. We want to be united as Christians. With more than 30,000 Sabahans working in the peninsula, what happened to our religious freedom?” said Golingi, adding that Sabahan Christians can no longer carry their Malay language Bibles, Alkitab, with them when in the peninsula.

Groups in Sabah and Sarawak are growing restless over the “Allah” issue as most indigenous tribes, who are Christians, are feeling the religious tension as the issue boils over from the peninsula to the two states.

“Today, we have lost our God-given freedom in every sense of the word. We are not even allowed to refer to God as ‘Allah’ in our liturgical language. Worse, we are not even allowed to teach our children and their children about God, whom they know as ‘Allah’, the almighty creator of the universe and all that is in it.”

Golingi said that religion was now used as a political tool and that Malaysia should go back to basics.

“We need to uphold the Constitution of our land and it says we have our freedom of religion. Freedom of religion means freedom of religion.”

Religious tension between Muslims and Christians in the country heightened after the Selangor Religious Affairs Department (Jais) seized some 300 copies of the Bible in Malay and Iban.

The raiding party also detained BSM chairman Lee Min Choon and manager Sinclair Wong.

Following that, Muslim groups had protested near a church in Klang against the right of Malay-speaking Christians to worship in Bahasa Malaysia using the word “Allah”.

Prior to the 2011 Sarawak elections, Putrajaya had endorsed a 10-point solution to allow Christians in Sabah and Sarawak to use “Allah” in the Malay version of the Bible, which was negotiated by Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala.

The editor of Catholic weekly Herald Rev Father Lawrence Andrew is being investigated for sedition after he had been reported by The Malaysian Insider as saying that churches in Selangor would continue using the word “Allah” during their Bahasa Malaysia services.

His statement was in response to Jais's announcement that it would write to all churches in Selangor and tell them not to use the word "Allah" in their worship and publication.

Last week, church leaders of various denominations had come out to say that they were united with the Catholic church on the stand that Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Christians should be allowed to use the word "Allah" in their worship.

Throughout this, Putrajaya has kept silent on the issue even as Christians looked to Idris Jala for an explanation.

Christians form about 9% of Malaysia's 29 million population. Almost two-thirds of Christians in Malaysia are Bumiputera and are largely based in Sabah and Sarawak, where they routinely use Bahasa Malaysia and indigenous languages in their religious practices, including describing God as “Allah” in their prayers and holy book.

Besides the Bumiputera Christians from Sabah and Sarawak, some of whom have moved to the peninsula to live and work, Orang Asli Christians in the peninsula also typically use Bahasa Malaysia in their worship. – January 23, 2014.

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http://my.news.yahoo.com/more-christians-converted-sabah-reported-pastors-223024869.html

More Christians converted in Sabah than reported, say pastors

 The conversion of rural Christians to Islam in Sabah is more widespread than initially reported, according to a meeting of pastors in Kota Kinabalu.

The emergency meeting was called on Wednesday after The Malaysian Insider reported that Christians in the remote district of Pitas had been tricked into converting after being offered a mere RM100.

The news report featured a group of 64 people, including children, from three villages in Pitas – Kampung Layung Maliau, Dowokon and Sosop – who had allegedly been converted to Islam for the paltry sum on New Year's Day.

“Ya, it’s happening, according to our people,” Protestant Church in Sabah (PCS) president Rev Jensey Mojuin told The Malaysian Insider.

Mojuin had earlier said the church was concerned over “unofficial” reports of what was happening in the parishes of Kudat, Kota Marudu, Kanibongan, Paitan and Pitas. There were also unconfirmed reports of forced, coerced or induced conversion elsewhere in northern and eastern Sabah.

Christians in the state, including political parties from both sides of the political divide, have since rallied to assist these “converted” natives.

Mojuin said the meeting agreed that the church should conduct an awareness campaign among its baptised members by conducting seminars or workshops.

“We are still drawing up the agenda of the seminars. We will have another meeting to finalise it and set a date when we would conduct them,” he added.

Fearful of saying too much due to the sensitivity of the issue, Mojuin, however, said the Muslim NGOs had “slowed down” their activities after the alleged covert conversion in Pitas made headlines.

He said he believed other churches with large indigenous members in rural areas were also affected by the conversion and called on the Sabah Council of Churches (SCC) to hold a meeting to discuss the issue.

Tomorrow, an indigenous Christian NGO Perpaduan Anak Negeri Sabah (PAN) will again sound their war cry for religious freedom by holding a “mamangkis” in the interior tourist town of Ranau, about 110km from Kota Kinabalu.

The “mamangkis” is an old Kadazan Dusun Murut war cry used by their ancestors to rally warrior troops for battle. Now it has been adopted as a Christian clarion call for revival.

At the first mamangkis in Penampang at the end of last year, PAN said the attempt to ban non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” had betrayed the Malaysia Agreement.

“Fifty years is a long time but the terms on which we agree to become part of a new and bigger nation state are still fresh in our memory.

“We have been betrayed. There can be no treachery greater than being betrayed by someone within the family,” PAN said.

Some of those converted in Kg Layung Maliau had told The Malaysian Insider earlier this week that a neighbour – who was told by an acquaintance with links to a Kuala Lumpur-based Muslim NGO – had on New Year's Eve informed them “some people from Kuala Lumpur” were offering them “financial assistance” of RM800.

On New Year's Day, they went to Pitas to collect the money, but instead of receiving the money at the Pitas town hall as they were told to go to a mosque instead.

At the mosque, they claimed they were made to sign some forms they had no idea what as they could not read or write and then go through procedure by reciting “foreign words”.

Some of them who kept the forms they signed by attesting their thumbprint, later showed them to their village church elders, who told them the form was a consent form that they were converting on their free will. – January 24, 2014.

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I can see so many PATI getting their way of blue IC.. see the last sentences... Any news on the RCI?
"Muslim community represents 65% of the population in Sabah"

http://my.news.yahoo.com/did-not-coerce-trick-natives-converting-sabah-islamic-035841316.html

We did not coerce or trick natives into converting, say Sabah Islamic authorities

Sabah Islamic authorities have washed their hands off the conversion controversy in the state, maintaining that they merely carried out their religious duties and the paper work which followed, but did not trick, coerce or persuade any Christian native to convert.

A source from the state Islamic Affairs Department said all the arrangements were handled by Muslim groups which had approached the department with a list of names from three villages in Pitas – Kampung Layung Maliau, Dowokon and Sosop – who were said to be interested in converting to Islam.

“They (Muslim groups) arranged everything. The religious department officers were only there for conversion and registration purposes,” the source told The Malaysian Insider.

He said a list of 100 names from the three villages, together with their identification card numbers, were handed over to the Islamic Affairs Department office in Pitas for checks.

“The arrangement was later made to convert them. Since it involved a large number of people, we decided to do it at a mosque on New Year’s day,” said the source who is familiar with the incident.

He brushed off allegations that the villagers were not told about the conversion nor the purpose of their presence at the mosque.

“When the villagers arrived, they were briefed on Islam and the reason they were there. We also had a lecture and the session lasted one hour,” said the source.

He said out of the 100 over people who attended the briefing, only 36 agreed to convert.

“If they were tricked, all would have been converted,” he added.

The source also denied giving the villagers money as a "token" for conversion. The villagers were given RM100 per adult and RM50 per child.

“The money was to compensate them for coming all the way from the remote areas for the function. The money was given to all 100 over villagers who attended the function,” he said.

The source also said the department was not aware of any promise to give the villagers RM800.

“We did not deal with any money. We were not the organisers. We were there to only help with the conversion and registration,” stressed the source.

It is understood, however, that the problem had started when the Muslim converts returned to their villages.

“Then the news came out saying they were tricked. A police report has been lodged against the person who made the allegation. The department will not interfere in this matter,” he said.

At the moment, the registration of the 36 Muslim converts is still being processed.

The source said the Pitas district religious office also had to write a letter explaining the incident to the Sabah Islamic Affairs Department.

“We do not know what transpired in the village after the conversion nor the promises made to the villagers. But those who attended the conversion function at the mosque were not tricked. No one was forced to do anything,” he said.

A group of villagers had recently alleged that were tricked into converting to Islam.

They claimed that they were approached by a neighbour who had said that someone from Kuala Lumpur would give them RM800 in financial assistance.

All they needed to do was to give their names and identification card numbers to the neighbour.

They were then told to go to Pitas town hall on New Year’s day to receive the aid.

Once there, they claimed they were "directed" to the mosque instead of the town hall.

One of them had claimed that they were asked to sign a form and that no one had explained to them what the form was. All of them are illiterates.

The villagers had claimed that they were given an envelope each which contained a few RM100 notes and RM50 notes.

The source said such a conversion ceremonies on such a large scale only occurred once in a while.

The conversion is usually done at the religious office.

“There were no problems previously. This is the first time I have heard anyone claiming they were tricked,” he said.

Lawyers from several non-governmental organisations are now helping the converted natives to declare the conversation null and void.

The Muslim community represents 65% of the population in Sabah. – January 25, 2014.