09/11/2021 Malaysia (International Christian Concern) – After Malaysia’s new prime minister swore in, four new shariah laws are being drafted by the federal government, including a Bill on control and restrictions on the development of non-Muslim religions.
The announcement made by Ahmad Marzuk Shaary, a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday, already receives strong criticism from human rights and religious groups.
On September 9, Malaysian Christian leaders criticized draft proposals to restrict faiths other than Islam, saying the measures should not be put to a vote.
The Association of Churches in Sarawak, a multi-denominational group, released a statement by Simon Poh saying that the government’s proposed Control and Restriction on the Propagation of Non-Muslim Religions Bill amounts to “directly contravening the very spirit of the formation of Malaysia.”
Poh, the Catholic Archbishop of Kuching, told Borneo Post, “Such bills … should never be allowed to be tabled in our multiracial and multi-religious Malaysia.”
While the details of the proposals have not yet been published, this particular Bill would affect the rights of around 40 percent of Malaysians who are non-Muslims. Among them, nearly 10 percent (close to 3 million) are Christians of various denominations.
Although Islam is the state religion of multi-ethnic Malaysia, freedom of religion is enshrined in the Malaysian Constitution. Despite that, federal law favors the Islamic faith, and ethnic Malays are constitutionally defined as Muslim and cannot convert to other religions.
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