Islamic oppression Malaysia | 26 May 2023

Malaysia/Indonesia: Political strategies and increasing radicalization

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With Malaysia facing no less than six state elections in 2023, opposition Islamic party PAS is whipping up its support by demonizing Christians (UCA News, 16 May 2023). Meanwhile, in neighboring Indonesia the growing support for Sharia law among high-school students continues to be a worrying trend.

World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller explains: “While such ‘demonization’ is a decades-old political strategy followed by more than one party in Malaysia, the intensity and frequency with which Christians are being portrayed as aiming at “destroying the Malay race, their religion and the country” is certainly to be noted. It is tempting to dismiss this as purely political demagogy, but that would ignore the fact that it is effectively shaping perceptions and polarizing society."

Thomas Muller continues: “It is interesting that exactly at this time two legal developments concerning the use of the word ‘Allah’ have become public. On 15 May 2023, the government withdrew an appeal against the decision of the lower court in the Ireland case (Benar News, 15 May 2023). A few days later, it was reported that the Evangelical Church of Borneo (SIB) had ended its legal fight against the ‘Allah’ ban after 16 years (UCA News, 18 May 2023). However, these developments will do little to pacify the emotions and fears stirred up by the political rhetoric.”

Thomas Muller adds: “Meanwhile, in neighboring Indonesia using the term ‘Allah’ in a Christian context is not a problem. However, growing support among high-school students for the introduction of Sharia law is a trend that needs careful watching. A recent study published by the Setara Institute and INFID was based on a survey of more than 900 students from five cities across the archipelago (UCA News, 18 May 2023). It found that more than 83% of the respondents did not think that the nation’s founding ideology, Pancasila, can be regarded as permanent and 56% supported the implementation of Sharia law. While 61% said they felt more comfortable if all female students were wearing headscarves, another response was even more worrying: 20% of all respondents said they would be willing to commit violent acts in defending their religion, and a third even said they would be ready to give their lives for it. This adds to a growing number of polls in recent years, illustrating the increasingly conservative and less tolerant development of society.”


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