Christians in Malaysia have expressed deep concern at what they see as growing intolerance against believers despite a recent court decision in their favour.
We thank God that last month the Malaysian Court of Appeals judge, Nor Bee, ruled that a 1986 directive by the Home Ministry to restrict Christians from using four ‘prohibited’ words including ‘Allah’ was not a blanket ban. This was restricting Christian recordings, worship and teaching.
However, this development has to be seen in a wider context, say our partners. In 2017 Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted in broad daylight, during a military-style operation, and has not been seen since. His wife Susanna continues to raise awareness about this and other incidents. The country’s police Special Branch has been blamed for Raymond’s abduction.
More recently, a video was posted online identifying various Christians in Malaysia by name and wrongly exposing them as enemies of the state. Our partner said that the 20-minute video broadcast in the local Bahasa language ‘also shows sermons, where the church claims Malaysia for God and this is misinterpreted as a call for war against Islam’. The video ‘claims that a special force from the Vatican has been sent here to cause trouble’.
All of this, combined with a fear that sharia (Islamic law) is being extended, is causing unrest and uneasiness within Malaysia. Many believers feel threatened and are considering fleeing the country.
- Thank God for the Court of Appeals ruling and pray that religious freedom in Malaysia would continue to be upheld.
- Pray that Christians will know God’s peace and protection in Malaysia.
- Pray that Raymond Koh’s whereabouts would be made known and that those responsible for his abduction would be brought to justice. You can sign an international petition calling on the Malaysian government to explain his disappearance here.
We thank God that a further 36 Christian prisoners have been released in Eritrea. Twenty-two are women who were rounded up by the Eritrean authorities at a prayer meeting in March in the capital Asmara. One male prisoner from this group is still being detained.
The second group to be released consists of 14 Christian men who were arrested four years ago and held in Dahlak Island Prison on the Red Sea. Twelve others who were seized recently in Assab for attending a prayer meeting are still behind bars. You can read more about this news here.
Please remember Christian Zafar Bhatti in your prayers. The appeal hearing of the Pakistani pastor, who has been in prison since 2012, is due to take place tomorrow (Thursday). Please pray that his appeal against a blasphemy conviction would finally succeed and not be adjourned yet again. In 2019 a judge said there was no evidence against Zafar and that he should be released.
(Sources: Release partners)