Saturday, August 29, 2009

Temple demo: Residents march with cow's head - Malaysiakini

Some 50 residents enraged with the proposed relocation of a Hindu temple to their area staged a noisy protest with a severed cow's head this afternoon.

The residents - from Section 23 in Shah Alam - who gathered after the Friday prayers, placed the head outside the gates of the state secretariat building for a short period before removing it.

"Where is Xavier? This head is for him," shouted one of the protesters in reference to Selangor executive councillor Dr Xavier Jeyakumar.

Jeyakumar is one of those in charge of non-Muslim affairs in the state.

Earlier, the protesters had marched some 300m from the state mosque to the state secretariat building.

The protesters also condemned Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim, exco member Rodziah Ismail (as the area falls under her state constituency) and Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad.

Before dispersing, several protesters spat and stomped on the cow's head. The cow is considered sacred among Hindus.

Addressing the crowd, Section 23 action committee deputy chair Ibrahim Sabri said: "If there is blood, you (the state government) will be responsible if you are adamant about building the temple."

"This is a warning. Relocate the temple to Section 22. This cow is a present to the state government. This is a gift from us," he added.

The protesters also carried several banners which among others read 'Take Beer' (mocking PAS' rallying cry of 'Takbir') and 'Illegal temples are very small, but once relocated, they are as big as Putrajaya'.

The crowd gathered for about 15 minutes at the main entrance of the state secretariat building under the watch of more than a dozen police personnel.

'We'll not budge an inch'

Speaking to reporters later, Action Committee chair Mahyuddin Manaf warned that the state government must give in or the residents would retaliate.

"We will not budge one inch, even if lives are lost or blood is made to flow. We will still defend Section 23 from having a temple built there," he said.

He added that a protest memorandum was forwarded to the state government two months ago but there has been no response.

Contacted later, Mahyuddin distanced his organisation from the act of bringing the cow head to the protest.

"It is not our intention. We were surprised," he said, denying that the act was intended to insult Hindus.

He said that the cow head was likely brought by angry residents.

"Maybe, they meant it (as a symbol of) stupidity. In Malay culture, the cow is a symbol of stupidity, or leaders that are stupid," he said.

On Aug 11, the state government announced that the relocation of the temple from Section 19 to Section 23 was final and will be situated 200m from the nearest house and 400m from a surau.

The temple will face an industrial lot and will be separated from the houses by a playground and a multi-purpose hall.

However, some residents felt that it was not appropriate to build a temple in a Muslim-majority area.

The Pakatan Rakyat state government accused rivals Umno of instigating the crowd to protest the relocation.

Jeyakumar to lodge police report

In an immediate reaction, a furious Jeyakumar described the protest as "unwarranted, unacceptable and without sensitivity towards other religions."

He also said that he will lodge a police report on the matter soon.

"These people should have ethics. They are inciting racial and religious hatred. I am going to lodge a police report against these people," he told Malaysiakini.

He also expressed disappointment towards the police personnel at the scene for not taking any action against the protesters.

"The police didn't stop anybody. The police should have arrested them and charged them for inciting hatred," he said, adding that he could tolerate with "ethical" demonstrations.

Jeyakumar is slated to meet Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar and other police officers over the matter tomorrow.