Teresa Kok: Jakim Stand on Christmas Greetings a Setback for Multi-Religious Malaysia

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Seputeh MP Teresa Kok has questioned whether the government endorses the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia’s (Jakim) recent ruling on non-Islamic festival greetings for shops with halal certification.

In a statement, Jakim deputy director-general (operations) Abdul Aziz Jusoh said shops which have their halal certification cannot have such festival greetings on their products on display.

This clarification came about after a bakery allegedly refused a customer’s order to have a cake decorated with “Merry Christmas” as it was in the process of applying for halal certification.

Questioning whether Jakim will now come out with similar rulings to forbid companies with halal certification to create decorations for non-Islamic festivals such as Chinese New Year or Deepavali as well, Kok also wanted to know whether Jakim would cancel such shops’ halal certification if they did so.

“Malaysia is a multiracial and multi-religious country.

“If the prime minister and the King have already extended public Christmas greetings to Christians in the country, is Jakim now questioning them?” Kok asked.

“The prime minister and the Cabinet must take a stand on Jakim. They must also seek legal opinion on whether Jakim has contravened the Federal Constitution,” added the former primary industries minister.

Aziz yesterday said that while shops with halal certification can decorate cakes with “Merry Christmas” greetings, these cannot be displayed to the public.

Stating that Jakim’s policy is an “intervention” in businesses which have obtained halal certification, Kok noted that such practices are not only unfriendly to private companies but also beyond Jakim’s jurisdiction.

She also said it cast Jakim in a bad light and it affected its image and that of the Perikatan Nasional government.

“I believe no Islamic country in the world has implemented such divisive policies that forbid businesses selling halal products for non-Islamic festivals,” she added.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Zulkifli Mohamad weighed in on the issue on Thursday when he said the sale of cakes bearing such greetings were acceptable as long as they were not put on display.

“If Shop B with a Jakim halal certificate makes a cake with a religious celebration wish for display on their premises, that is not allowed. But if Shop B prepares a cake which has a religious celebration wish that was ordered by A, that is allowed,” he tweeted. – FMT