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Malaysia’s king calls for national unity after minority group protests

ICC Note:

In an annual speech beginning the Islamic New Year, the Malaysian king urged the nation to caution regarding areas that could upset national unity. This likely comes in response to the increasing protests of Christians and other minority groups.

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1/10/2008 Malaysia (PRInside) Malaysia’s king urged his people Thursday to avoid creating tensions in this multiracial country, which has seen a slew of protests in recent months by minority groups demanding equal rights and religious freedom.

“They must steer clear of actions that will create tensions, being disrespectful to one another, refrain from harping on sensitive issues and defying the law,” national news agency Bernama quoted Mizan as saying.

The constitutional monarch has no powers and rarely gets involved in politics but is highly revered by most Malaysians, especially Malay Muslims who make up 60 percent of the country’s 27 million people.

But relations have recently seemed increasingly fragile, with minorities complaining of unfair government policies that they say discriminate against them in business, jobs and education and threaten their religious freedom.

National debates have erupted over religious disputes prompted by government actions, including a ban on conversions from Islam and the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims.

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