22 March 2018

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04/28/2005 MALAYSIA

Two Christians arrested for 'proselytising'

Former Premier Mahatir denies a fundamentalist threat exists in the country.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews) – Two American Christians were recently arrested on charges of proselytising. The incident occurred a few days after a controversy broke out over the distribution of Bibles in local languages. Important local politicians were quick to say there were no dangers that fundamentalism might develop in Malaysia.

The two Protestants from the US—Ricky Ruperd and Zachry Harris—were arrested for giving pamphlets with religious content to Muslims in Malaysia's new administrative capital, Putrajaya, 50 km south of Kuala Lumpur.

A spokesman for the local police said that a court ordered them held for 14 days for breaking the law. Under Malaysian law trying to convert a Muslim is an offence.

Two legal systems coexist in the country: a civil one that pertains to the federal constitution; a religious one that applies only to Muslims.

Recently, the government split over an issue related to religious freedom, namely the legality of Bibles published in two local languages: Bahasa Malaysia and in Bahasa Indonesia. For one minister, such Bibles were illegal; for another, they were not.

Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi said there was no ban on Bibles published in Malay languages as long as they carried the words "Not for Muslims".

In a meeting with former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said there was danger that Islamic fundamentalism might prevail in Malaysia.

"This is a concern of a lot of people outside [the country], especially in European countries," Mahathir said, referring to the fact that Islamists are in power in Kelantan, a north-eastern state of the Malaysian federation.

"There is fear that Malaysia is on the verge of becoming an extremist Islamic state and that Islamists are going to overcome the rest of the population. But I don't think so. Malay Muslims are very rational," he stressed. (LF)

See also

12/07/2014 MALAYSIA
For Sepang Muslim MP, Catholic rights violated in Allah controversy
Mohamed Hanipa Maidin demands justice for ‘The Herald’ and Malaysia’s Christian community, which has been under attack for some time. The decision to turn down a request for leave to appeal is against the Constitution because the case touches the public interest and raises an important constitutional question. Wondering about the “actual meaning of religious freedom" in Malaysia, he reiterated that Catholics did not violate any rule or principle.

22/12/2014 MALAYSIA
Kuala Lumpur, religious leaders: Dialogue, the basis of coexistence between different faiths
Christians, Muslims and Buddhists gathered at a conference highlight the importance of dialogue and mutual understanding. Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur: "It does not mean “giving up one's faith”, but "understanding the sensitivities of others." Indonesian Muslim scholar: tolerance and pluralism basis of dialogue.

21/10/2006 ISLAM
Sheikh of Al-Azhar: no to fundamentalism, open to dialogue with all

The head of the world's largest Sunni cultural institution criticizes the words of Benedict XVI in Regensburg but denies any clash of civilizations.  

24/01/2005 INDIA
Peace and religion: a deeper understanding of one's faith helps inter-faith dialogue
An inter-faith seminar concludes that a deeper understanding of one's faith helps inter-faith dialogue and is the path to peace.

13/01/2006 MALAYSIA
Malaysia, Abdullah freezes Islamic bill

Prime Minister Abdullah blocks the implementation of the new Family Law, which had come in for criticism from women's groups, and announces constitutional amendments to demarcate the jurisdiction of civil and Sharia courts.

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