Last September, Malaysia decided that it was just too difficult to talk peaceably about faith and proceeded to ban all public discussion of religion. Perhaps that’s why last week the government cancelled an interfaith summit to foster Muslim- Christian dialogue that the Archbishop of Canterbury was scheduled to chair this week.
This was to be the next meeting of the annual “Building Bridges” conference, which has previously met in London, New York, Qatar, and Sarajevo since it was first convened following the September 11 attack. Following several protests from around the world, the Prime Minister has now said that the conference has only been “postponed,” not cancelled, so that he would be able to attend this “important” gathering.
Not talking about our differences may keep the outward peace for a time, but it allows the hostilities to deepen and fester. When they do break forth, the relationships and understanding that can help soften and channel those hostilities have not been built up. What will they (or we) do then?
- Summit on religious harmony is thrown into discord by Malaysia (Times Online)
- Malaysian leader says interfaith conference postponed, not canceled (International Herald Tribune)