Malaysia: religious freedom in chaos

By Ruth K’lama | Mission Network News

Malaysia (MNN) – Last fall, a Member of Parliament in Malaysia issued a public call for religious freedom, the first of its kind, according to the Religious Freedom Institute.

Ms. Kasthuri Patto was urging the government to sign the UN Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief.

This year, Open Doors praised Malaysia in its annual release of the World Watch List for improvements in religious freedom issues, taking it from No. 23 to No. 42. Researchers noted the unprecedented 2018 election victory by the Pakatan Harapan, the country’s federal opposition prior to the election. The win raised hope among minorities.

Yet the response to the Catholic MPs religious freedom request revealed the depth of the schism between the different religious communities in Malaysia. A kerfuffle over a business building’s cross-like display and the aftermath underscores the tension.