Rising anger by Christians over seizure of bibles in Malaysia

What makes this story something beyond religious persecution is the political angle brought out in this piece by Razak Ahmad:

The row over 35,100 imported Malay language Bibles and Christian texts impounded by Customs authorities comes amid a legal battle on the right of non-Muslims to use the Arabic word "Allah" and could raise ethno-religious tensions in the country.The bibles were seized in 2009 but the case was only made public in January.

"There has been a systematic and progressive pushing back of the public space to practise, to profess and to express our faith," Bishop Ng Moon Hing, chairman of the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), said in a statement on Wednesday.

Christians make up 9.1 percent of the country's 28 million population. Chinese and Indian non-Muslim ethnic minorities have abandoned the government, leading to record losses for Najib's ruling coalition in the last national polls in 2008 and growing complaints of marginalisation.

[...]

But the row signals continuing minority discontent that could stymie Najib's bid to reverse the 2008 poll losses and to accelerate the implementation of tax and subsidy reforms, which have slowed due to the government's wariness about upsetting voters.

"This issue will make it easier for the opposition to win additional seats," said James Chin, a political analyst at the Monash University campus in Kuala Lumpur.

What is being called the "Allah affair" is just the latest in the continuing radicalization of Malaysia's Muslim majority. Malaysia used to be a model nation in attitudes displayed toward non-Muslims - including Chinese and Indian workers, as well as Christians. It was a decidedly secular nation, along with Indonesia, the least radicalized Muslim countries in Asia.

But inroads by extremists in the Muslim community threatens to make Malaysia a powderkeg.

And Christians are bound to pay a price.



What makes this story something beyond religious persecution is the political angle brought out in this piece by Razak Ahmad:

The row over 35,100 imported Malay language Bibles and Christian texts impounded by Customs authorities comes amid a legal battle on the right of non-Muslims to use the Arabic word "Allah" and could raise ethno-religious tensions in the country.

The bibles were seized in 2009 but the case was only made public in January.

"There has been a systematic and progressive pushing back of the public space to practise, to profess and to express our faith," Bishop Ng Moon Hing, chairman of the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM), said in a statement on Wednesday.

Christians make up 9.1 percent of the country's 28 million population. Chinese and Indian non-Muslim ethnic minorities have abandoned the government, leading to record losses for Najib's ruling coalition in the last national polls in 2008 and growing complaints of marginalisation.

[...]

But the row signals continuing minority discontent that could stymie Najib's bid to reverse the 2008 poll losses and to accelerate the implementation of tax and subsidy reforms, which have slowed due to the government's wariness about upsetting voters.

"This issue will make it easier for the opposition to win additional seats," said James Chin, a political analyst at the Monash University campus in Kuala Lumpur.

What is being called the "Allah affair" is just the latest in the continuing radicalization of Malaysia's Muslim majority. Malaysia used to be a model nation in attitudes displayed toward non-Muslims - including Chinese and Indian workers, as well as Christians. It was a decidedly secular nation, along with Indonesia, the least radicalized Muslim countries in Asia.

But inroads by extremists in the Muslim community threatens to make Malaysia a powderkeg.

And Christians are bound to pay a price.



RECENT VIDEOS