Residents in Taman Medan, Malaysia protested outside of a church due to the cross on top of the building, claimimg the cross is “challenging Islam.”
The protest took place during a 10am service and remained peaceful. The people believe the cross “could sway the faith of the youth” since the majority of residents are Muslim.
“After meeting with the priest, the church agreed to take down the cross by next Sunday,” announced group leader, Datuk Abdullah Abu Bakar. “If they have the authority to run, we cannot stop it. But we ask out of concern, being a Malay area, that they take down the cross.”
Church leaders removed the cross a few hours later.
However, the police received two complaints against the group that protested the cross.
“The action of the protestors went against the freedom of religion and a violation of the Federal Constitution which accorded for all religions to be practiced in peace and harmony,” claimed K. Sudhagaran Stanley, a law student and human rights activist. “It makes no sense to argue that a church or its symbol or even other non-Muslim places of worship should not be present in a Muslim-majority area. If that was the reasoning, then no non-Muslim places or worship should exist in Malaysia.”
Another complaint stated Malaysians have a constitutional right to practice any religion they choose.
“We hope the IGP (Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar) can take action while it’s still a small and isolated case,” said Shamsher Singh Thind, a law lecturer.
In October, The Malay Online reported the “growing fundamentalism and authoritarianism that leaves little room for free thought and dissent” is forcing Malays to flee the country. Azrul Mohd Khalib, member of Malaysians for Malaysia, said Friday sermons “paint non-Muslims as enemies of Islam” and “have dismayed and scared Muslims.” Then, in March, the State Assembly of Kelantan, Malaysia, announced they want the death penalty for anyone accused of apostasy, which is the abandonment of Islam.
A religious group in Malaysia also issued an official complaint against a young girl whose photo holding a dog at an adoption drive took off on social media. Muslims in Malaysia are not allowed to touch dogs, “which are considered ‘haram’ [sinful] in Islam.” The picture of the girl outraged the Badan Bertindak Jaringan Muslimin Pulau Pinang (JMPP) organization. Mohamed Hafiz Mohamed Nordin, the head of the organization, is pushing the Penang State Religious Department (JAIPP) “to take appropriate action against the young girl.”