Malaysia is a south-east Asian country consisting of two regions separated by the South China Sea. It is a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society, but Muslims make the majority of its population. Ethnically, the population is comprised of 60% ethnic Malays and 26% Chinese, while indigenous peoples and Indians make up the rest of the population. There are two sects of Islam in the country, the Shia and the Sunni Muslims, with the Sunni Muslims being the majority. The government forbids some religions and faiths in the country. This essay explores the violation of the basic human right and freedom of religion and worship in Malaysia.
The government of Malaysia supports Sunni Islam and forbids any other sect of Islam. It refers to such other sects, for example the Shiites, as deviant, and forbids the right of their members to assembly and worship (US Department of State). In addition, the government prohibits the believers of such faiths from freely speaking about their religion. It detains Muslims who deviate from the teachings and ways of Sunni Islam, and even subjects them to rehabilitation centres that teach the government-approved Islam (US Department of State). For example, in March of 2014, the government arrested and detained around one hundred Shiite Muslims, including infants, for taking part in a Shiite religious celebration (Husain).
The government directly oversees Islamic activities in the nation. The mosques in the country are directly administered by the thirteen state governments (US Department of State). They have enforcement officers who monitor and influence the content of religious sermons. The officers prohibit some people and imams from speaking at some religious functions, and at times use the religious function to pass political messages to the congregate (US Department of State).
The education system in the country is biased against other religions. Muslim children in the country must undertake Islamic religious studies, while non-Muslim children are required to undertake studies in nonreligious morals and ethics (US Department of State). The government does not allow non-Muslim religious studies in public schools.
The government shows discrimination in recognizing the freedom of people to convert from one religion to the other. It does not have any prohibitions for a non-Muslim wishing to convert into Islam. However, since the government openly supports Islam, it shows some reluctance in allowing people to convert from Islam to other religions. Muslims wishing to convert to other religions are required to seek the approval of the sharia court, but such approval is hardly granted. Instead, the sharia courts often impose penalties such as enforced rehabilitations at facilities offering government-approved Islam teachings (US Department of State). It is therefore not easy to convert from Islam to other religions.
Christians and Buddhists face a lot of discrimination in Malaysia. Their churches and temples are destroyed by their Muslim counterparts, who are often backed by the state, under the slightest of provocations (Glazov). Bibles are seized by the authorities, while the construction of new churches and temples is highly discouraged. The legal system supports Islam, while state officials such as judges, magistrates, and the police are owned by the government. Christians and Buddhists are discriminated against whenever they seek any legal redress from the justice system of the country (Glazov). Sometimes, the efforts made by the government to make the country more and more Muslim, such as enforcement of sharia, persecution of non-Muslims, and Islamic-inspired bigotry, forces the non-Muslims to flee the country(Glazov) .
The political system in Malaysia favours Islam, Sunni Islam in particular. Other sects of Islam, such as the Shiite sect, are prohibited, and the government arrests and detains Muslims practising the Shiite faith. The Malaysian government oversees the practice of Sunni Islam in the country. It has enforcement officers who at times influence the contents of religious sermons. The government compels Muslim children to undertake Muslim religious education, but it prohibits the teaching of non-Muslim religious studies in public schools. Non-Muslims in the country are highly discriminated against. Their religious buildings are often vandalized by Muslims. At times, they are even forced to flee the country. Lastly, the government prohibits people from converting from Islam to other religions, but it does not place many prohibitions on those willing to convert from other religions to Islam.