Anti-Christian Hysteria in Malaysia

The AP reports:

Malaysia’s government sought to defuse new religious tensions Monday following allegations that church leaders were conspiring to make Christianity the official religion in this Muslim-majority country.

…The allegation by two anonymous political bloggers about a plot by Christian leaders received little attention until the country’s leading Malay-language newspaper reported it on its front page Saturday under the headline “Malaysia a Christian nation?”

The Malaysian Insider and the  Straits Times have further details: the two bloggers ( and touted a “a grainy photograph showing what they described as a secret pact between the [Democratic Action Party] opposition party and pastors at a hotel in Penang on Wednesday”. In fact, the event was related to a seminar called Unashamedly Ethical, on how Christians should respond to corruption, and the the dinner was held “to honour several pastors from Sarawak” who were taking part. Jeff Ooi of the DAP was present “in recognition of the DAP team who had visited them while in Sarawak for the state election”. The photo in fact showed a normal prayer session.

One of the bloggers also highlighted a chain SMS message doing the rounds which accuses the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition of being an “anti-Christ agent”, and accused the DAP of authoring it – however, no-one knows where it has come from, and the DAP denies any knowledge.

The newspaper, Utusan, is owned by the United Malays National Organisation, which is part of the BN. The UMNO apparently sees political advantage in the idea that Christians (who make up around 10% of the population, and are mostly of Chinese ethnicity) are plotting to take over the country:

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said these allegations were serious, and that he was awaiting a report about the Penang meeting. “If certain races resorted to raising issues in an excessive manner, it will invite reactions from other races,” he said.

Hardline nationalists and Islamists agree:

Ultra Malay group Perkasa insisted today that the post of prime minister is reserved only for a Malay-Muslim.

Independent constitutional experts have argued that there are no provisions that state the premier must be a Malay-Muslim, but Perkasa women’s wing Youth chief Zaira Jaafar argued otherwise.

She said the sovereignty of the Malay Rulers was enshrined in the Federal Constitution, so the post (of prime minister) must be filled by a figure from the majority race.


Islam is under siege in Malaysia because aggressive Christians are determined to convert Muslims who are nonchalant about their faith, Islamist groups alleged yesterday.

The Muslim Organisations in Defence of Islam (Pembela) accused Christians of strategising an elaborate plan to ensure that more and more Muslims leave the faith, which is illegal in Malaysia.

Pembela president Dr Yusri Mohamad said the Christian’s demands over the “Allah” issue as well as the Alkitab row proved that they wanted to convince Muslims to embrace Christianity and abandon Islam.

“Pembela” is also the name of an Indonesian group translated as “Islamic Defenders Front”; presumably the two are connected. Last summer, I blogged on how the Islamic Defenders Front was using rumours based on misinterpreted images to whip up anti-Christian hate in Jakarta.

As ever, one should remember that although the accusation of conspiring against Islam is false, if Muslims wish to “embrace Christianity and abandon Islam” or to complain about constitutional matters they should be free to do so.