Malaysia marks 50 years, believers pray for unity

By September 7, 2007

Malaysia
(MNN) — Malaysia
has just marked its 50th anniversary with a prayer for unity among its races
and religions. But the pomp and
circumstance was shadowed by growing fears about eroding minority rights. 

According to Compass Direct News, the prime minister has
declared the country an Islamic State. Open Doors USA's Jerry Dykstra says, "Some of his cabinet people
and some of the officials say this is an Islamic state, and others contradict
that. So we're getting mixed signals. The bottom line is that the country
seems to be going on a slippery slope into Sharia law." 

Racial riots of 38 years ago haunt today's citizens. Ethnic tensions remain fluid and may be
stirred up by the spread of Islamic conservatism. Court verdicts this year have found that
civil courts have no jurisdiction in Islamic matters, even when applied to
non-Muslims.

The state of religious liberty in the country has been in
the limelight ever since May 30, when the outcome of the high profile case of
Lina Joy – a Muslim convert to Christianity who tried unsuccessfully to have
the word "Islam" removed from her identity card – was announced.

These sentiments are alarming for Christians, many of whom
are already marginalized. The Christian
Federation of Malaysia said in an independence day message, "What divides us has become more
accentuated than what unites us." 

Dykstra notes, "We've been working in that country for
quite a while, including a prayer and presence ministry and leadership
training. There is a strong group of Christian
believers, evangelical believers there. We don't want them to be any further marginalized than they already are,
so we need to keep them in mind."

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