Malaysia Dateline

Malaysia can learn an inter-faith lesson from Germany


Malaysia can learn an inter-faith lesson from Germany where a Berlin church hosted Muslim prayer to illustrate how communities can be more closely-knit in a coronavirus world.

This happened when a church in Berlin helped a nearby mosque to comply with social distancing guidelines by hosting Friday prayers.

Places of worship re-opened earlier this month in Germany but worshippers must maintain a minimum of distance from one another of 1.5 metres (five feet).

Berlin’s Dar Assalam mosque, which had hundreds of Muslims on Fridays, could only accommodate 50 people at a time.

The nearby Martha Lutheran church stepped in to help, hosting Muslim prayers in Arabic and German.

The mosque’s imam, Mohamad Taha Sabry said: “The church saw how Muslims were suffering and asked us: ‘Do you need space to pray?’ That is an amazing sign of solidarity in these times.

“This pandemic has made us a community. Crises bring people get together.”

He led his congregation in prayer watched over by a stained-glass window depicting the Virgin Mary.

The church’s pastor was moved by the Muslim call to prayer and said:

“I took part in the prayer. I gave a speech in German. And during prayer, I could only say yes, yes, yes, because we have the same concerns and we want to learn from you. And it is beautiful to feel that way about each other.”

This is a touching story of how the Covid-19 pandemic can bring together diverse peoples, nations and religions.

Isn’t there something for Malaysians to learn from this story in a coronavirus world?

How fantastic if the German story of the community spirit of the Muslim mosque and the Christian church could be replicated all over the world.

Instead of considerable hatred, venom and animosities among diverse peoples, nations and religions resulting in an unprecedented avalanche of fake news over the Covid-19 pandemic, we should be emphasising the spirit of community in the coronavirus world.

As a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation, Malaysia should be in the forefront to develop the best practices in the invisible war against Covid-19 instead of indulging in the worst practices.

The Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in his Hari Raya Aidilfitri message implied an exit plan for the movement control order (MCO) is in the works while urging community leaders to take charge in helping to break the transmission of Covid-19.

This is too slow as for over a month ago, I had been calling for an exit plan strategy and blueprint to be discussed by Parliament and the Malaysian public.

It is now more than two months since the imposition of the MCO on March 18.

Who would have thought of the global changes in the Covid-19 pandemic in the past two months?

Two months ago, China was still the leading nation with the most number of Covid-19 cases and deaths. But for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic in the last five months, China recorded no new confirmed Covid-19 cases.

But world-wide, the Covid-19 pandemic is raging like a wild fire, having surpassed 5.4 million cases and 343,000 deaths.

For the first time, the global daily increase of Covid-19 infections in the last 24 hours fell short of 100,000 cases by less than 150 cases when the global total of Covid-19 confirmed cases was less than 240,000 cases on March 18 when the MCO was imposed.

The top ten countries in the world with the most number of Covid-19 cases when Malaysia launched the MCO on March 18 were China, Italy, Iran, Spain, Germany, United States, France, South Korea, Switzerland and United Kingdom have been replaced by United States, Brazil, Russia, Spain, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany, Turkey and Iran – with Brazil, Russia and Turkey joining the group while China, South Korea and Switzerland have dropped out.

In fact, the top 15 countries where the coronavirus infection is spreading like a wildfire contribute over 80 per cent of the nearly 100,000 daily increase of Covid-19 cases, as shown the increase in Covid-19 cases in the past 24 hours:

Increase of Covid-19 cases in past 24 hours:

1. United States – 21,902

2. Brazil – 16,508

3. Russia – 9,434

4. India – 6.629

5. Peru – 4,056

6. Chile – 3,536

7. Mexico – 2,960

8. United Kingdom – 2,959

9. Saudi Arabia – 2,442

10. South Africa – 1,218

11. Bangladesh – 1,873

12. Iran – 1,869

13. Pakistan – 1,743

14. Qatar – 1,732

15. Turkey – 1,186

We must continue to be alert to the successes and mistakes of other nations, and this is why it is of paramount importance that Malaysia must have the confidence and trust of the people in the exit plan strategy and blueprint in the coronavirus world which may last two to five years.

But if the government lacks confidence to allow Parliament to play its constitutional role of oversight and scrutiny, how is it going to gain the trust of the people in its exit plan strategy and blueprint?