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Malaysian Christians Face Threats, Worries

ICC Note:

CBN takes a look at Malaysia, a country that has longed named itself as a moderate Muslim state, but faces an increasingly more severe threat from Muslim extremists seeking to radicalize the nation.

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3/24/08 Malaysia (CBN) “They forced me to renounce Christ but I said no way!” said Daniel, a Christian convert.

Daniel is a young Malaysian who has lived a secret and sometimes dangerous life.

“I’ve been threatened with death so many times by radical Muslims, but by the grace of God I’m still alive,” he explained.

“Under the Islamic laws of my country, the authorities can arrest me for my conversion,” he said.

Malaysians attempting to leave Islam has become one of the most controversial issues in this country.

Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, a well-known human rights lawyer and a Muslim, presented a brief in support of Ms Lina Joy’s conversion case.

“It crystallized a legal basis to implement the kind of measures that we say are undermining the entire societal framework of this country,” he said. “Lina Joy was a bad decision, a very, very bad decision.”

A decision that forced Lina Joy to flee the country. Meanwhile, Sarwar’s support for Joy made him a wanted man. Posters carrying his picture circulated calling for his death. He’s been branded an Islamic traitor because he believes that Malaysians should be free to choose their religion.

Ioannis Gatsiounis is a freelance journalist based in Malaysia.

“One of the things we hear quite a bit of in Malaysia is the need to protect Muslim sensitivities. I don’t think that bodes well for tolerance. Tolerance is not about protecting sensitivities but about getting people used to accepting other people as they are.”

In the last year several indigenous churches have also been destroyed by the Islamic police.

These episodes leave many worried about the future of religious freedom here and uncomfortable with the rise of a new and radical form of Islam that threatens to undermine Malaysia’s image as a moderate and progressive nation.

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