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Walking for respect and understanding

KUALA LUMPUR (AsiaNews): “Unity will always be the focus as we grow together as Malaysians. We each have our own religions and our religion is our own way to God, and we need to respect each other’s journey,” Father Simon LaBrooy, the parish priest at the Church of the Divine Mercy in Selangor, Malaysia, said.

His parish has organised a walk to promote understanding and respect among people, regardless of religion, ethnicity or race for the past three years.

“We cannot say anything bad about each other or use words like religious tolerance. There is no love in tolerance. We need to respect each other’s faith,” the priest explained.

However, this year, about 1,000 people belonging to various religious and ethnic backgrounds met on Malaysia Day, September 16, in Shah Alam, the capital of Selangor, to take part in an interfaith march for peace.

For the first time, the organising committee had invited representatives of the Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Hindu and Baha’i communities, as well as Christians, to give it a truly multi-religious character.

The president of the Shah Alam Buddhist Society, Datuk Vincent S.C. Lim, told the Malaysian Insider that the interfaith council could unite Malaysians despite their differences.

“Today is Malaysia Day. We want to show the true Malaysia, to show how Malaysians act and live and work together. It is only then that we can move forward together in unity,” he said.

Muslim leaders agree. “If you stay apart from each other, there will be prejudice, because there is no understanding,” Yaakob Sapari, a member of the assembly for Kota Anggerik, said. “With more interaction between different races, we can understand each other and through this understanding there will be respect. That is when we can live peacefully and harmoniously.”

The interfaith walk sponsored by the Catholic parish with the support of leaders of the country’s main religions comes at a time of deep political and institutional crisis in Malaysia, as evinced by a series of recent strikes and demonstrations.


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