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Non Muslims pray together for return to full religious freedom

ICC Note: Here is more information on the issue of religious freedom in Malaysia

4/4/07 Malaysia For full story…..(AsiaNews) – For the Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia and other non Muslim religious groups, recent court cases forcing non Muslims to appear before the Sharia Court are tantamount to suppression of religious freedom and an insult to human dignity. They run askance of the country’s constitution which stipulates instead that only Muslims come under its jurisdiction.

As a way of protest against the threats to religious freedom, the Malaysian Consultative Council for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism launched a week-long, nation-wide prayer campaign staggered over a 14-day period between March 31 and April 13. Each group begins and ends according to its own schedule.

In its press release, the Council announced that a brief statement will be made at the special prayer meetings explaining the fears that have motivated the various communities to joint together in prayer for “the return to religious freedom as enshrined in the constitution.”

The Council’s chairman, Chee Peck Kiat, said that the “Constitution is the supreme law of the land and no believer should be subject to the laws of another religion.”

Section 11 of the Constitution says that every person has the right to profess and practice his religion. Other laws stipulate that Sharia law applies only whenever all parties are Muslim. However, the two legal systems—Islamic and secular—often come into conflict, causing inter-communal problems between the Muslim majority and the non Muslim minorities in areas such as property, burial and when a spouse converts to Islam

The Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, which has being warning against the danger of Sharia law for some time, released a statement explaining that “in many churches a candle will be lit to symbolise that religious freedom, which came to the world with the Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, will shine again over our country.”