Easter and why it's not a holiday anymore - by Abdullah Ahmad



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On "Good Friday", thousands of Christian pilgrims would retrace the path Jesus took, according to tradition, as he bore his cross to his crucification at Calvary in the Old City of Jerusalem. They will march via Dolorosa and the parade is a point of identification with the sufferings of Jesus which is the core of the true significance of Easter. The festival of the Resurrection of Christ is the greatest and oldest festival of the Christian church.

But the question is being asked by various Christians whether via Dolorosa is really the path Jesus walked? However, few modern Christians seem concerned with the historical authenticity. Pilgrims have gone to Jerusalem to strengthen their faith and they would prefer that such a question is not raised.

Like these pilgrims, I too would like to go to Jerusalem someday to strengthen my Islamic faith; to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque, visit the Haram Al-Sharif, the Dome of the Rock, the old Muslim Quarters and other religious places; Christian as well as Jewish.

Jerusalem should be preserved and shared alike by three monolithic religions. The Holy City is big enough to accommodate the capital of the new Palestinian nation, and until the Palestinians have at least an enclave of their own in the Holy City, there shall never be peace.

Malaysia is well-blessed so far, the post-NEP emphasis on growth seems to be doing well, and I was an Umno representative on the National Economic Consultative Council (NECC) whose various recommendations were accepted by the government and formed part of the present economic strategy.

The 2020 Vision is on course; the economic growth of 8.2% last year (it was 9.5% in 1995) is still 1.2% above the minimum 7% annual growth required to achieve the targets of vision 2020.

Malaysian are happy; we are at peace with ourselves - no siege syndrome, and no chip on the shoulder. Malaysia, without much trumpeting, has been held out as a good example of race relations, good management and government. We are not smug like some neighbours we know. We are a real multi-racial nation because no one race dominates the other, the numbers simply won't allow it to happen.

Most times a most startling story like this barely gets noticed by the international media. When it has something to write about Malaysia, it is almost always on an inside page.

Malaysia will only hit the front pages if it degenerates with a murderous anarchy or scenes of racial atrocities almost reminiscent of the Nazi holocaust or something like what happened in former Yugoslavia and Rwanda and similar horrors elsewhere.

The New York Times (Feb 15) has a small item in an inside page which discloses that Lyndon Baines Johnson, (my old boss for three months in 1962) as early as in 1964, viewed the Vietnam war as pointless. Notwithstanding what he believed, he did not try to pull American soldiers out of Vietnam because had he done so Congress would have destroyed him. The country was then going through an anti-communist hysteria.

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