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Malaysian Institute of Islamic Strategic Studies (IKSIM) Chief Executive Officer Datuk Mahamad Nasser Disa took the Christian community by complete surprise when he indicated recently that another shadowy Christian group was establishing a presence in the country.

Speaking at the Putrajaya International Security Dialogue last week, he warned that the “Radical Evangelist for Christian State (RECS) [was] slowly and quietly creeping into the nation.” [NST, January 5th 2018]

Continuing, he said that the group used “provocative” words during their meetings such as “the general will of God for all of us in Malaysia is to invade this nation with the kingdom of God” and “we are called to bring down God’s principles and cultures into Malaysia.”

Obscure and unknown

In the first place, Christians are scratching their heads because no one has ever heard of such a group. A Google search reveals exactly zero references to RECS. The group has neither an international nor a domestic footprint.

Even the group’s name makes absolutely no sense at all. Whoever came up with it apparently wanted it to sound like the Christian equivalent of Islamic State and make it out to be some sort of Christian terrorist organization.

In any case, if RECS poses such an imminent danger to Islam and the nation, why haven’t the authorities moved against the group, identified their leaders or charged them for whatever crimes they are guilty of? Does IKSIM know something that Bukit Aman is not aware of?

Its hard not to conclude that this is nothing but another sordid attempt to stigmatize Christians, part of a wider strategy to sow dissension and suspicion between Christians and Muslims. Not content with parading fake former priests and fake former nuns to discredit Christianity, they now have to invent a fake Christian terrorist organization. What is wrong with these guys? Why this unrelenting visceral hostility towards a minority community which has been nothing but peaceful and law-abiding and which has contributed more than its fair share to the development of this nation?

It is utterly shameful, as well, that this is what passes for “strategic studies” these days and by a tax-payer funded institution no less.

Criminalizing prayer?

And even if RECS does exist, what precisely are they guilty of? Are they agitating for the violent overthrow of the state? Have they attacked other places of worship or entertainment outlets? Did they plot to disrupt the last National Day celebrations or the SEA games? Are they recruiting holy warriors to fight in distant lands or threatening to behead those who don’t support them? Have they even converted a single Muslim that we know of? Apparently not.

Going by Datuk Mahamad’s statements, their only offense appears to be praying for the kingdom of God to invade the nation and for “God’s principles and cultures” to fill Malaysia.

Since when is praying considered a threat to national security? Are groups like IKSIM so insecure, so paranoid that the mere prayers of an obscure Christian group (if they exists at all) are enough to drive them to distraction?

It is utterly absurd, of course, but apparently not in Malaysia.

And given all that’s going on in our nation today – the corruption, the sleaze, the injustice, the abuse of power, the racism and extremism – why should IKSIM be surprised if Christians are fervently praying for godly values – peace, tolerance, respect, love, compassion, justice, and integrity –   to “invade” the nation? Surely that’s the heart cry of every decent law-abiding Malaysian today and we are not going to apologize for it.

If praying such prayers is a crime, the authorities might as well arrest us all.

Putting wasatiyyah into practice

It’s high time that Islamic groups like IKSIM stop demonizing Christians and start practicing some of that “wasatiyyah” or moderation that they are so fond of talking about.

As well, their time and resources might better be spent looking into why so many of our young people are getting radicalized and going abroad to join the likes of Islamic State despite all our bragging about how well we are doing in combatting terrorism and extremism.

Dennis Ignatius | 8th January 2018 | Kuala Lumpur