What’s Ahead for Malaysia?

September 4, 2013 by Open Doors in General

What's Ahead for Malaysia?

Slightly more than half of the Malaysian population is ethnically Malay, defined by the constitution as a follower of Islam. Every citizen of Malay ethnicity is therefore understood to be a Muslim. In addition to the Malay, roughly one quarter of the population is of Chinese origin.

Though the state is secular per definition, Islam has a strong influence on everyday life. The legal system and political institutions are strongly influenced by Islam. The government sponsors Muslim missions, aiming at changing the religious geography in parts of the Island nation. During Ramadan 2012, the Prime Minister announced that Islam will always supersede politics, while in another speech he warned against greater liberalism being a threat to the country. The more hardline Malay Supremacy group Perkasa continued to stir up sentiments against the Christian minority.

Given the people`s diversity, a political program of unity and conciliation is appealing to many and even deeply needed. The slogan of unity and conciliation, though, largely remains on paper. The age-old practice of discriminating against non-Malay ethnic minorities continued unabated during the May election season, giving the so-called “Bumiputera” (the Malay population or literally “people of the soil”) a lot of advantages.

While the ruling coalition won the hotly contested elections in on May 5th, they face on-going allegations of electoral fraud and a significant trust deficit among the people who were hoping for “unity and conciliation” to become more of a reality. Malaysia remains a deeply divided nation.

Two think-tank organizations have concluded that the elections were “partially free but not fair.” Dr. Lim Teck Ghee, director of the think tank Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI), said that non-Muslims are alarmed at the “growing trend of religious fundamentalism; an increasing intolerant and narrow-minded Islam dependent on its interpretation and policing by religious bigots that want to extend their sphere of influence and are out of touch with modern trends is perhaps the biggest threat to the character and well-being of our country. “

Prior to the May elections, there seemed to be a blatant attempt to pit Muslims against Christians by attempting to resurrect a ban (overturned by the courts) on churches using the world “Allah” to denote their God. Just last month, four Muslim girls were barred from being contestants in the Miss Malaysia World 2013 beauty pageant as Islamic authorities cited a 1996 fatwa (religious edict) against their participation. Maznah Yusof, a Muslim woman who trains dogs, is under investigation for sedition after posting an online video over YouTube of her walking her three dogs with the Takbir (chanting that takes place on the eve of Eid ul-Fitr) heard in the background, generating outrage among the Muslims in Malaysia who are accusing her of insulting Islam. While some of these incidents may seem inconsequential on their own, they are evidence of a growing trend toward Islamic fundamentalism.

Father, we pray for a peace and unity that honors You among the people of Malaysia despite government efforts to introduce policies based on racial and religious division. We pray that Christian leaders in Malaysia will be vigilant in calling Christians to pray and advocate for change in the government, and may we faithfully cover them with our own prayers. We especially bring before You believers from Muslim background who are most impacted by the recent trends. Protect them from harm as they stand in the crossfire and guard their faith as they face trials of many kinds. Embolden them to live godly and compassionate lives before their Muslim neighbors that many will turn to You. In the name of Jesus who brings peace and unity between God and man through His sacrifice on our behalf, Amen.

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