Editorial: U.S. Report's Accusations of Restricting Religious Freedom Unfounded

December 22, 2003

Source: New Straits Times


On December 22, 2003 the New Straits Times ran an editorial defending the religious and cultural tolerance found in Malaysia against claims made in the U.S. State Department's International Religious Freedom Report. The editorial board writes, "If there is one thing that we cherish dearly, and are proudest of, it is our religious and cultural tolerance. For Malaysia to be accused by a United States Government report of restricting freedom of worship is a particularly unkind cut. All major religious festivals are celebrated in the country, and the joy and festivities are shared by all Malaysians. They do so because such celebrations are public holidays, of which we have more than most countries, including the US. In rebutting the report, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has rightly pointed to the many churches and temples that non-Muslims freely frequent to practise their faiths. US representatives should take up Abdullah's invitation to visit Malaysia and see for themselves. There may be a handful of religious extremists, as in all societies including America, but they by no means reflect how mainstream Malaysians think and act."