Out of Malaysia’s 32 million citizens, 61.3% are Muslim, 19.8% are Buddhist, and only 9.2% are Christian. And while the Malaysian government claims it respects the religious freedom of all their citizens, the nation has a history of marginalizing and even persecuting its Christian minority.
According to Open Doors, “the constitution of Malaysia prohibits conversion for Malays and the propagation of non-Muslim religions.
“Converts from Islam to Christianity in Malaysia experience the worst persecution, as every ethnic Malay is considered Muslim. Converts are viewed as law-breakers, as well as traitors to society, their families, and neighbors.
When conversion to Christianity is discovered, citizens are usually reported to Islamic authorities or expelled from their community. Conversion also excludes them from the hereditary order; if they are married to a Muslim, they often lose custody rights to their children.
The government requires all children in state-run nursery and primary schools to receive an Islamic education. After primary school, Muslim students (including Christians from a Muslim background) are required to take Islamic classes.
At the university level is a compulsory subject called ‘Islamic and Asian Civilization,’ thought by many to be a government instrument for further Islamization.”
And in recent years, the nation’s highest court has become increasingly pro-Muslim with several unpopular rulings coming down against the country’s Christian minority.
For example, many Muslim converts to Christianity have petitioned the court to allow their children to be legally considered Christians at birth.
This would prevent them from being legally branded as Muslims and having to face the same persecution and penalties their parents faced after coming to know Christ as Lord.
Yet, the courts have consistently ruled against these petitions.
In addition, as unbelievable as it sounds, Christians have even had to petition the court for their right to use the Malaysian word for God, as the current law states their word for “God” can only be used by Muslims.
The courts have ruled against these petitions as well.
And over the past decade, as the world has witnessed the unprecedented rise of radical Islam, Malaysia has seen its own rise of radicalism and increased pressure to adopt a much more strict adherence to Muslim Sharia law.
Not only has the government become more radically Muslim, but protests, threats, and even violence against Christians in the streets has gotten worse over the past few years.
For example, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth are believed to have been kidnapped by radical Muslims and have been missing since November 2016. In addition, in February of 2017, Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted in broad daylight and is still missing.
They are all presumed dead, murdered by Muslim terrorists, but no official investigation was ever launched into their disappearance.
So how is it that, in a nation with such open hostility towards the Church, did a 65-year-old Christian man, Richard Malanjum, manage to be appointed last month to serve as the Chief Justice of the pro-Islam Malaysian Supreme Court?
As it turns out, the rise of radical Islam and its abuses of power has fueled a groundswell of opposition and outrage among the nation’s Christian and Buddhist minorities—and even among many of the nation’s more moderate Muslims.
In a huge backlash against Muslim radicalism, the pro-Islam Barisan Nasional coalition government was ousted from power in the May 2018 general election.
In its place, a moderate coalition government made up of religious minorities and moderate Muslims, united by support for a new era of religious tolerance, rose to power and has already begun many reforms.
Among those reforms is the appointment of Malanjum, which according to Catholic news agency UCAN, “signifies that Malaysia’s new rulers … are on a reformist course.”
In addition to this appointment, the new de facto Law Minister, Liew Vui Keong, has stated it is unacceptable that missing Pastor Raymond Koh and others have not been found and has now ordered the police to open an official investigation into their disappearances.
As these new changes continue, Christian Life Daily will keep you informed with the progress made in Malaysia.
Let’s pray that this is the beginning of many more reforms by the new Malaysian government and that Christians will finally have their right to religious freedom respected in this Muslim nation.