Christian Lawmaker and Muslim Professor Spar in Ongoing Legal Battle
04/21/2022 Malaysia (International Christian Concern) – A Christian lawmaker and a Muslim university professor are in the middle of a long-running legal battle over the alleged defamation of each other. The situation is symbolic of the anti-Christian sentiment in Malaysia.
Hannah Yeoh is a Christian MP from Segambut, a territory near Kuala Lumpur. She is an outspoken Christian, a former deputy minister of women, family, and community development, and a former Selangor State Legislative Assemblymember. Her Democratic Action Party (DAP) is one of the four parties of the Pakatan Harapan coalition that formed a government after the fall of the long-ruling Barisan National in the 2018 general election.
In 2015, Hannah Yeoh published a biography entitled “Becoming Hannah: A Personal Journey”, in which she discusses her faith.
Universiti Utara Malaysia professor Kamarul Zaman Yusoff, a Muslim, retaliated to Yeoh’s memoir with two Facebook posts in May 2017. He alleged that “Yeoh has a motive to proselytize Christianity through her politics” and claimed that she intends to “convert Malaysia into a Christian country.”
Yeoh filed a police complaint against Yusoff, stating that his Facebook posts had malicious content. Two days later, on May 17, 2017, Yusoff filed a counter-complaint against Yeoh, accusing her of being involved in proselytization. He also issued a statement to justify his Facebook posts and dismiss defamation allegations.
“As a lecturer and a Muslim, I must inform the people on the book’s contents as I feared they may be influenced by Christianity,” he said, adding that as a political analyst, he has the right to comment on political issues in Malaysia.
In May 2021, Yeoh filed a lawsuit against the former inspector-general of Malaysian police, Musa Hassan, who allegedly said she had been trying to turn Malaysia into a Christian country. The case is still pending in court.
Last week, on April 11, UCA News reported that the Sessions Court in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur dismissed the defamation suit filed by Professor Yusoff for his failure to submit pre-trial documents and evidence. However, it also ruled that Yusoff has the freedom to file a fresh petition over his grievances should he so desire.
Christians make up about 13 percent of more than 32 million citizens in Malaysia, where Muslim hardliners have harbored and spread anti-Christian propaganda for decades.
In March 2021, a court ruled that non-Muslims are legally permitted to use the word “Allah” following a decades-long legal battle. The legal row sparked violent protests and attacks on at least 11 churches.
Earlier that year, Muslim politician Nik Muhammad Zawawi Salleh caused tension for Christians when he told parliament that the New Testament had been “corrupted by Christians over time” and so they did not reflect the actual teachings of Jesus.
In 2016, a Muslim cleric and Islamist politician, Andul Hadi Awang, wrote an article in a right-wing newspaper accusing Christian missionaries of “preying on poor and uneducated people” in impoverished communities in Malaysian states like Sabah and elsewhere by paying them off to convert to Christianity.
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