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Friday, March 10, 2017

World churches council: Abduction of pastor equal to an act of terror

Geneva-based World Council of Churches has written to Prime Minister Najib Razak urging a swift probe into the whereabouts of abducted pastor Raymond Koh as it has serious implications.

In an open letter dated Wednesday, March 8, the council's general secretary Olav Fykse Tveit said the incident was "deeply disturbing" and would negatively impact relations with the religious minorities.

"I am gravely concerned for the safety and well-being of pastor Raymond Koh.

"According to the information I have received, the abduction of pastor Koh was conducted in a cruel and organised manner and has been equated to an act of terror.

"Since his abduction, no information concerning the safety or whereabouts of pastor Koh has been given to his family, and no ransom has been demanded," said Tveit in the letter published on Channel NewsAsia's website last night.

Koh was abducted on Feb 13 in Petaling Jaya, and his disappearance has caused a national outcry.

Yesterday, police finally made a breakthrough in the case after they arrested a 32-year-old man in connection with the abduction, after the latter had purportedly contacted the family for ransom the day before.

'Causing deep anxiety'

Tveit noted Koh had been accused of proselytising and had received threats prior to his abduction.

In 2011, the 62-year-old pastor was embroiled in a controversy after his NGO, Harapan Komuniti, was accused by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) of proselytising Muslims, following the controversial raid at a thanksgiving and fundraising dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church (DUMC).

Noting freedom of religion is enshrined in Malaysia's federal constitution, he said the development was of deep concern.

"[...] This disturbing incident, which is causing deep anxiety and concern for the life and wellbeing of pastor Koh, is also promoting fear and mistrust among the religious minorities.

"I therefore respectfully ask you (Najib) to order an intensification of the investigation in to the abduction [...] to ascertain his whereabouts, and ensure his immediate release and return to his family," he said. - Malaysiakini

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