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Christian Malaysian tribe sues Islamic state

ICC Note:

The case of the indigenous villagers who are attempting to sue the Islamic state for demolishing a church on their property has been postponed until May with both parties ordered to submit their arguments in writing.

1/15/2008 Malaysia (USAToday) Christian indigenous villagers have sued Malaysia’s sole Islamic opposition-ruled state government for demolishing their church, which they claimed was sitting on ancestral land, a lawyer and activists said Tuesday.

Authorities in northeast Kelantan state tore down the church in June last year, shortly after it was built by members of the Temiar tribe in their remote jungle village, said lawyer N. Subramaniyan.

The case was to be heard Tuesday but the high court postponed trial until May after ordering both sides to submit their arguments in writing, Subramaniyan added.

Azlan Abdul Halim, the counsel representing the Kelantan government, said the church was illegally built on state land and villagers ignored notices to stop construction.

“By law, any building has to get approval,” he told AP. “It doesn’t matter if the building is a church or a house … this has nothing to do with religion.”

Pastor Moses Soo, whose Christian group helped the Temiar villagers build the church, accused the Kelantan government of discriminating against Christianity.

“Before no one visited them at all but the moment we start to build a church, the religious officers came in,” he said.

Local authorities built a community hall to replace the church but villagers “don’t want a community hall. They want a church,” he said.

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