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Seven Men Suspected of Connection to the Murder of an American Pastor in Malaysia Arrested, Yet to be ChargedSunday, June 2nd, 2013
As general elections in Malaysia approach the campaign is “becoming dirty” as clear bias and obvious attempts to pit Muslims against Christians is rampant. Christians are being bold as churches ask their congregants to pray (and vote) for a leader that is uncorrupt.
Christians in Malaysia face an environment that, while not open to outright persecution, often makes life difficult. Malaysian Christians were recently informed that they could not use the word "Allah" to refer to God and leaving Islam to convert to Christianity is illegal. In addition the government chooses to hold elections on Sunday, making it difficult for some Christians to get out and vote.
The Sultan of Malaysia has made it illegal for anyone besides Muslims to use the word ‘Allah,’ putting Christians at risk in a nation whose legal framework tacitly works against the interests of religious minorities.
In Malaysia it has recently became illegal for any group except Muslims to use the word Allah when referring to God. For Malay Christians this is difficult to avoid because their version of the Bible uses the Arabic word for God (Allah) to refer to God. Some believe that Islamic militant groups will use this as an excuse to persecute the Christian population.
For more than 400 years Malay Christians have used the Arabic word for God, Allah, in Christian writings and Malay language Bibles. However an Islamic Sultan in Malaysia recently issued a Fatwa forbidding the use of Allah by Christians. Now threats are coming in from various Islamic groups threatening to burn Bibles, increasing pressure on Christians to back down over the issue.
Although Christians in Malaysia have not recently faced outright persecution on a large scale, the debate over the use of the word 'Allah' by Christians and a new fatwa issued by a Malaysian sultan may prove to be the basis for future conflict. Malaysia is predominantly Muslim and Christians can face imprisonment for attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity.
Although Muslim-majority Malaysia keeps a pretty low profile when it comes to persecution, restrictions against Christians do exist. This article details a recent change in restrictions against Christians traveling to Israel. Up until recently, only 700 Christians per year could travel to Israel on "pilgrimage" and only for one week. The limit has been removed and the allowable visitation extended to three weeks. Earlier this year a Muslim blogger accused of blaspheming the Prophet in Saudi Arabia tried to escape to the West through Malaysia. Malaysia however held the blogger and delivered him to Saudi authorities, where he will probably face the death penalty for his "blasphemous" Facebook posts.
A Malaysian singer was accused of insulting Islam for singing a Christian song with the lyrics “all races in this country hope in you, Jesus,” the Malaysian Insider reports. “Can a singer sing any song even if (it) hurts the feeling of others?” said Syed Hassan Syed Ali, the secretary general of Perkasa, a Malay Supremacy organization. “Malays, who are Muslims, do not put their hope in Jesus!” While Perkasa boycotted the musician, Senator Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon responded by saying it is Perkasa’s right and that freedom of speech must be defended. “[Perkasa] can boycott as they like. It’s a free country,” Tsu Koon said. The complaints were the latest accusations of “offending Islam” in Malaysia and across the Islamic world in an ongoing debate over the limitations of free speech when religion is insulted.
“When governments want to bury bad news, they will exploit a tragedy, or they will create a distraction for the public, to minimize the bad publicity they would otherwise have received. In Malaysia, the Christians are the smokescreen,” Free Malaysia Today reports. False accusations alleging that Christians want to turn Malaysia into a Christian state are the latest anti-Christian rumors stirring religious tensions in the country.
Christians are once again the targets of Malaysia’s political debate. “Christians, regardless of denomination, are unofficially the favourite punching bag of these hypocritical Muslim [politicians],” the Malaysian Insider reports. False accusations alleging that Christians want to turn Malaysia into a Christian state are the latest anti-Christian rumors stirring religious tensions in the country.
Although only 9 percent of Malaysia’s population is Christian, fear that Christian influence will seep into Malaysian society is sometimes used by political parties to sway Islamic followers. The danger of course it that this type of attack will increase discrimination against Christians and perhaps even lead to outright persecution.
Raymond Ibrahim writes for the Gatestone Institute that, “Saudi Arabia's highest Islamic legal authority decreed that churches in the region must be destroyed… American teachers in the Middle East were murdered for being Christian or talking about Christianity; churches were banned or bombed, and nuns terrorized by knife-wielding Muslim mobs.” Ibrahim’s series, titled ‘Muslim Persecution of Christians,’ is published each month to document cases of persecution – whether it be general discrimination, arrests, or murder – committed by Muslims in majority Islamic countries, Asia and the West.
In Malaysia, it is illegal to convert Muslims to another religion. "The problem of Christianization has been around for a long while, it is real," Datuk Sheikh Abdul Halim Abdul Kadir, president of the Malaysian Ulama Association, told the Malaysian Insider. "You need to educate teachers, especially the young ones who are unaware of this problem."
Some 300 religious teachers from Johor national schools attended the seminar entitled “Strengthening the Faith: What is the Role of Teachers?”, which was held in the state capital Johor Baru. The seminar had attracted controversy among non-Muslims for focusing on the alleged threat of Christianisation to Islam.
It is illegal in Malaysia to try to convert Muslims to another religion. Muslim leaders said the government of Muslim-majority Malaysia has a duty to defend the religion while Christian leaders called the seminar inflammatory.
Parliamentarian Ibrahim Ali is calling on the federal government to come up with an Apostasy Act in response to 21 Muslim NGOs who had urged the government to formulate anti-apostasy laws, Yahoo! News reports.
“In the past year … we have witnessed unprecedented incidences where Christians have been made victims of unwarranted and unfounded accusations, vilification, insults, even police reports,” said a CFM statement released yesterday
Raymond Ibrahim reports in FrontPageMag that the “Nigerian church bombings, wherein the Islamic group Boko Haram killed over 40 people celebrating Christmas mass, is just the most obvious example of anti-Christian sentiment in December. Elsewhere around the Muslim world, Christmas time for Christians is a time of increased threats, harassment, and fear.” Ibrahim’s series, titled ‘Muslim Persecution of Christians,’ is published each month to document cases of persecution – whether it be general discrimination, arrests, or murder – committed by Muslims in majority Islamic countries, Asia and the West.
Malaysian Christians are coming under increased pressure from Muslim leaders who accuse them of Christianizing the country. Malaysian laws violates the basic religious freedom by outlawing converting Muslims to Christianity.
“There are reports from parents of school children that their children come home from school and recite the Islamic ways of praying at home."
In Malaysia, the sultan is the head of Islamic affairs in all states where the sultans rule. According to local laws, evangelization of Muslims is an offense punishable by fine and/or imprisonment. Muslims who try to convert out of Islam are also subjected to all kinds of hardships, including having to attend rehabilitation camps.
The Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party is lobbying to have Islamic law expanded in Malaysia to cover criminal offences as well as civil legislation. Although the proponents point out that the law would not apply to non-Muslims, cases of Islamic law dramatically effecting religious minorities exist. A recent rally in Malaysia by Muslim groups protested the perceived expansion of Christianity.
The gathering ended with a 10-point declaration that included calls for new laws to curb proselytizing by non-Muslims and a review of the national education system to make sure Muslim students aren’t exposed to information that can erode their faith.
Close to 2000 Muslims took part in a rally in which they denounced the preaching of the gospel by Christians to Muslims.The participants of the rally want to protect Islam from Christian teachings.
The Malaysian Insider reported yesterday a planned gathering of a million Muslims this Saturday to rally against Christians “challenging the sovereignty of Islam”, a momentous event that could raise religious tension that has intensified in recent months after alleged proselytising by Christians.
Sultan Sharafuddin has expressed concern that Christian's hosting the dinner may have been trying to influence and even convert Muslims who attended the event. Proselytizing of Muslims is punishable by prison terms in most Malaysian states.
Hudson New York continues their series of Muslim persecution of Christians which is published each month to document cases of persecution – whether it be general discrimination, arrests, or murder – committed by Muslims in majority Islamic countries, Asia and the West.
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ICC is constantly monitoring the state of Christian persecution in countries around the world and looking for ways that we can act as bridge between our supporters and the persecuted church. Beyond the projects you see above, we are working in many other areas to provide practical assistance to our brothers and sisters in Christ. View our other projects page to understand more of our work and keep up to date on our current projects.