Memorandum of Protest to the Vatican Envoy to Malaysia

Azril Mohd AminRESENTED by [Islamic Non-Governmental Organizations] on 19th day of July 2013, to the Vatican Embassy at Jalan U Thant, Kuala Lumpur;

AGAINST the content of an interview by the Vatican Envoy to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph Marino, for supporting the local Catholic Church on the use of the word “Allah”.

The Facts

The Vatican Envoy to Malaysia, Archbishop Joseph Marino, in his first interview on 11th July 2013 as the Apostolic Nuncio, the Vatican equivalent of an ambassador, had stirred controversy with his comments on the use of the word “Allah”.

He had indicated that the Christian Federation of Malaysia had presented a “logical and acceptable” argument to counter the argument by Muslims that “Allah” was exclusive to Islam;

Subsequently, on 16th July 2013, Marino had issued an apology through Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, if his comments on the “Allah” issue had caused any “misunderstanding or inconvenience”. In a statement after the lunch meeting with the foreign minister, Marino said he never intended to interfere in the internal affairs of Malaysia.

WE BELIEVE

THAT the Vatican Envoy’s statement forms a grave breach of diplomatic etiquette and in particular a breach of Article 41 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations 1961 on the duty of Ambassadors not to interfere in the internal affairs of the receiving State;

THAT without equivocation, the Vatican Envoy’s statement manifests a clear absence of understanding of the causes and circumstances of the controversy surrounding the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims, or deliberately seeks to distort the same;

THAT the Vatican Envoy’s statement is reflective of the Vatican City‘s sheer ignorance of the special place given to Islam as the religion of the Federation of Malaysia pursuant to Article 3 (1) of the Federal Constitution, and the oath and duty of His Majesty the Yang DiPertuan Agong of Malaysia; as provided for by the 4th Schedule of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia; and the conventional practice of oath of office by Muslim Ministers of the Federal Government; to protect the religion of Islam at all times,

THAT the above can be viewed as inappropriate interference with the due process of law of Malaysia as a sovereign Islamic country and a distinguished member State of theOrganization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the Non- Aligned Movement (NAM), and the United Nations (UN);

On behalf of [Islamic Non-Governmental Organizations], and in consideration of the forgoing,

WE THANK Wisma Putra for summoning the Vatican Envoy in Kuala Lumpur to explain the said statement;

WE THANK the government for issuing a statement on 16th July 2013 disclosing the apology by the Vatican Envoy to the public through our Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman;

WE URGE all Malaysians to be aware of how the Vatican Envoy and his delegates are representing their country worldwide;

NOTWITHSTANDING ARCHBISHOP JOSEPH MARINO’S PURPORTED APOLOGY THROUGH WISMA PUTRA,

WE DEMAND an official and immediate retraction of the said statement and an official apology from the Vatican City to the people of Malaysia for such an offensive statement;

WE FURTHER URGE Malaysians to protest and condemn the Vatican Envoy’s interference, that have led to the impression of attempts to thwart the pending appeal process of the matter at the Court of Appeal, Malaysia;

WE FURTHER DEMAND that the Vatican Envoy issues an official undertaking to refrain from making similar statements in the future on the matter now pending appeal at the Court of Appeal, Malaysia;

WE SERIOUSLY URGE that the Vatican Envoy consider withdrawing voluntarily from his appointment in Malaysia since his unwise and unjustified statement has already caused a serious uproar from Muslim political leaders, Muslim scholars, Islamic authorities such as the Selangor Islamic Religious Council and the National Fatwa Council, Muslim NGOs and the Muslim community at large;

WE FIRMLY WISH TO ADVISE that the Vatican focuses more seriously into resolving the widely reported sexual misconducts of its religious officials rather than interfering with domestic issues of other nations.

PARTICIPATING ORGANISATIONS IN SOLIDARITY

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