US report: M’sia needs to respect freedom of religion

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Our PM portrays our country as a peaceful, tolerant nation as far as culture and religion is concerned but the rakyats know that he is allowing religious extremism to thrive. No action whatsoever is ever taken against the bigots that bully the minorities.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian government should work hard to stem the rising religious intolerance creeping into the society, said a US report.

The report by United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), revealed that the growing persecution against religious minorities in Malaysia could destabilise the nation in the future.

“Although the US promotes Malaysia as a moderate nation with an exemplary plural society, the politics of persecuting religious minorities is fast affectingthe nation’s standing,” said the report.

Citing examples, it said that the government’s decision to declare Shiites and those in the al-Arqam movement as ‘deviants’ goes against the idea of religious freedom.

“In 2011, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom declared that the government will come down hard against Shiites.

“Since then, about 200 Shiites were arrested in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Perak,” the report said.

On top of that, the report also said that the Malaysian authorities had listed several other faiths as being ‘deviants’, with Baha’i and Ahmadiyyah among them.

“While the religious authorities such as the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) bars non-Muslims from preaching to Muslims, it sometimes support proselytising by Muslims to non-Muslims, particularly the Orang Asal group which is causing a problem,” said the report.

The US group also cited the Court of Appeal ruling to bar Christians from using the word Allah in the Malay bibles, on grounds that it may confuse the Muslims.

USCRIF offers solution

Offering solutions to the matter, USCRIF urged the American authority to work closely with its Malaysian counterparts to promote religious freedom in the Southeast Asia nation.

It also called upon the US authorities to push the Malaysian government to streamline its legislation with international laws, including those which protect human rights and freedom of expression.

“The Malaysian authorities should also address the shortcomings created by its parallel civil-Syariah court system to guarantee the rights of its people.

“This will ensure that Malaysians will continue to enjoy basic human rights in line with international standards,” said USCRIF.

USCIRF is an independent, bipartisan US federal government commission, the first of its kind in the world, dedicated to defending the universal right to freedom of religion or belief abroad.


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