Minister Defies Gov’t Stand, Declares Malaysia Not Islamic State
ICC Note: A Christian Malaysian government official has, in direct contradiction of that countrys Deputy Prime Minister, made a bold statement that the country is not an Islamic state. With the Lina Joy case only weeks old and national elections on the horizon, this election will be key for the future of Malaysia and the freedom of Christians to practice their religion.
8/2/07 Malaysia (Asianews) – A senior Malaysian Cabinet minister said Thursday that Malaysia is not an Islamic state, a move expected to add to the religious divide that has now bedeviled the multi-racial and multi-religious country.
“I think my colleagues in the government will forgive me for saying that I will not agree that we are an Islamic state,” Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Bernard Dompok, a Christian, was quoted as saying by Malaysiakini, an online newspaper.
“For all intents and purposes, I think Malaysia is not meant to be an Islamic state,” Dompok said in an off-the-cuff speech at a forum to commemorate Malaysia ‘s 50th anniversary of independence on Aug. 31.
Dompok’s comments, which his press secretary Albert Bingkasan confirmed to Kyodo News, came two weeks after Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak reignited debates about Malaysia ‘s religious credentials when he declared that “Islam is the official religion and we are an Islamic state.”
“We have never been secular because being secular by Western definition means separation of the Islamic principles in the way we govern a country,” Najib said.
His remarks hit a raw nerve among the country’s sizeable non-Muslim population, mostly ethnic Chinese and Indians who make up almost 40 percent of the total 26 million population and who are mainly Buddhists, Hindus or Christians.
Under the Constitution, Islam is indeed the official religion and it defines the majority ethnic Malays as Muslims but the Constitution also guarantees freedom of religion to others.
However, there has been growing resentment among non-Muslims over what they deem as their rights being eroded as Islam is being increasingly asserted into every aspect of Malaysia ‘s key institutions from schools to courts .