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Malaysian churches campaign for religious freedom in elections

ICC Note:

Christians in Malaysia, together with persecuted Buddhist and Hindu, are urging one another to get informed and vote for candidates who support religious freedom in the upcoming March 8 election in Malaysia. Minority religious communities view this election as especially important as the government of Malaysia has become increasing intolerant of non-Muslim groups.

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2/18/08 Malaysia, Islam (IHT) Malaysia’s churches are wading cautiously into politics by urging Christians to vote for candidates in next month’s general elections who champion religious freedom in the Muslim-majority society.

The call illustrates growing concern among religious minorities who feel their rights are being eroded by a rise in Islamic fervor, which many blame on overzealous Muslim bureaucrats in Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s government.

Although some churches have made similar calls in the past, many Christians are particularly concerned about the outcome of these elections because of what they regard as “the trend of Islamization and how that is affecting other religious communities,” Shastri said.

The Christian federation is working with its Buddhist and Hindu counterparts, which may distribute similar pamphlets at temples, Shastri said.

Minorities have been upset by recent developments such as a government ban on the word “Allah” in Malay-language Christian literature, the demolition of Hindu temples and court judgments favoring Muslims in disputes with non-Muslims.

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