Malaysia | 03 May 2022

Malaysia/Indonesia: Beware of Christians and (other) radicals

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As Benar News reported on 15 April 2022, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) has declared in a 90 page report that there is no evidence to suggest there was any state involvement in the disappearance of Christians Joshua Hilmy and Ruth Sitepu in November 2016. World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller explains: "This is very different from the report SUHAKAM published three years ago about the abduction of Pastor Raymond Koh. However, this should not be read as clearing the authorities from all blame: At a press conference on 15 April, the SUHAKAM commissioner stated that "˜the highly unsatisfactory conduct and shortcomings of the Royal Malaysia Police in investigating the disappearances of Joshua Hilmy and Ruth Sitepu had contributed to the acquiescence of the state in the abduction of the couple"." Thomas Muller continues by looking at an ongoing court saga which illustrates the religious tensions Malaysia is facing: "A defamation case filed by Christian politician Hannah Yeoh is still underway. A Muslim university lecturer stands accused of making offensive comments about her after reading her biography which was published in 2015. She claims the Facebook posts made in 2017 were untrue, offensive and an attempt at destroying her reputation as an elected representative. In fact, the lecturer had also taken Yeoh to court accusing her of using politics to promote a Christian missionary agenda, but the case was dismissed by the court on 11 April 2022 and the lecturer has had to pay approximately USD 2,000 for costs (UCA News, 19 April 2022). Thomas Muller concludes with a look at neighboring Indonesia: "An article published by RSIS on 20 April 2022 focusses on the radicalization of pupils at Muslim schools. Earlier in 2022, the government"s counter-terrorism agency identified 68 Islamic boarding schools which have close ties with the radical group, Islamic Jemaah Islamiyah. The RSIS article warns that it is not enough for the government agency simply to check whether an Islamic school follows the national curriculum, since many "˜operate ambiguously". Whether a school is linked to militants can be seen far more clearly in the extra-curricular activities on offer and in the use of soft ideology, such as the use of songs about jihad in Arabic during jogging activities. Admittedly, such signs of radicalization are harder for the government officials to uncover."


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