Thursday, February 25, 2016

Freemasons meeting in Penang goes on despite protest

The International Scottish Masonic Conference 2016 in Penang, which Malay groups claimed was cancelled after they protested against the programme yesterday, is still ongoing. District Grand Lodge of the Middle East (DGLME) district secretary Datuk Dr N. Lakshmanan said the conference has continued smoothly at the Bayview Beach Resort in Batu Ferringhi. "No, the conference is not cancelled. It is going on smoothly," he told The Malaysian Insider this morning. Delegates, he said, were having their meeting and a tour around Penang today, and will attend their centenary celebration tomorrow night before the programme concluded. Yesterday, some 20 people from Malay groups including Mohd Ali Baharom, also known as Ali Tinju, who is president of Gerakan Merah, stormed the hotel demanding that the conference be cancelled because it allegedly had links to the Jews, satan worshippers and conspirators against Islam and Muslims. The also alleged that the Freemasons were involved in creating wars in Muslim countries and promoted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activities. After creating a ruckus in front of the hotel, the group dispersed when several leaders claimed they had been informed that the conference was cancelled. Gerakan Merah later issued a statement to the media via Whatsapp that it had "successfully stopped the conference". Dr Lakshmanan said the delegates initially were not aware of the protest as they were attending a lecture. "We didn't know there was a protest outside or hear any noise until the hotel people told us. We saw that some people were here (at the hotel) when we had our tea break," he said. He said nobody from the committee met with any representative from the protestors. "Everything is fine. The delegates are happy. Only some of the foreign delegates felt a little uncomfortable at first," he said. Dr Lakshmanan said his organisation had nothing to hide, although it was true they rarely ever publicised their activities that mainly dealt with charity work like the Rotary Club and the Lions Club. He said during the conference, they only discussed charity work and the roles of office bearers. "Those people (who protested) read something online and came to have certain ideas about the Freemasons. What they read about might had been true hundreds of years ago, but not today. "I didn't even know of the Illuminati bit until they brought it up... there is no such thing. We are not a Jewish group, an anti-Islam group or a pro-LGBT group. "In fact, 30 of the largest Freemason organisations are in the Middle East. "Among us are professionals like doctors, engineers and lawyers. We do not even discuss politics or religion," he said. DGLME is among 26 District Grand Lodges under the main organisation, the Grand Lodge of Scotland, an umbrella body of more than 22 lodges in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. – February 26, 2016.]]>

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