Being Christians in Muslim-majority Malaysia : The Kelabit and Lun Bawang Experiences in Sarawak

Poline, Bala (2014) Being Christians in Muslim-majority Malaysia : The Kelabit and Lun Bawang Experiences in Sarawak. In: Religious Diversity in Muslim-majority States in Southeast Asia. ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute, pp. 379-399. ISBN 9789814519656

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INTRODUCTION: RELIGIOUS MINORITIES CHALLENGES IN MALAYSIA In recent years a situation which has emerged out of Malaysia's multiculturalism and which has caught the attention of various commentators on Malaysian society is the position of religious minorities such as the Hindus, Buddhist, Taoists, Sikhs, Christians, and animists in Malaysia. This is especially within the context of freedom of belief, which is one of the fundamental rights upheld by the Federal Constitution of Malaysia. This basic right is clearly spelt out by Article 3(1): “Islam is the religion of the Federation, but other religions may be practiced in peace and harmony in any part of the Federation.” Furthermore Article 11(1) indicates that, “Every person has the right to profess and practice his religion and, subject to clause 4, to propagate it.” In other words, except for Article 11(4), which prohibits the propagation of any religious doctrine or belief among persons professing the religion of Islam, right to religion is protected in Malaysia. However, procedures and processes to build non-Islamic places of worship are getting tougher, causing delays and resulting in some projects being abandoned for years before being granted approvals (see Chong in this volume). Moreover, the ban on the use of term “Allah” in all Christian publications including digital media, limitations to certain religious practices and non-Muslims being affected by Islamic Law and legal obstacles to inter-religious marriages have led to increasing concerns over rights to religion and the rise of ethnic and religious polarization in Malaysia. These circumstances (although not exclusively) have led to claims that the nation has never been so divided by race and religion as it is today. Lim and Gomes (2009) equate the contemporary situation to “a sharp crack in the cultural mosaic arising from growing ethnic, religious and cultural polarization” (p. 232). Their claims appear to affirm a long-held perspective that Malaysia is an ethnic time bomb for creating an explosive situation (Gabriel 1996, p. 3).

Item Type: Book Chapter
Uncontrolled Keywords: Religious, tolerance, Islam, Kelabit, pluralism, Lun Bawang, majority, Sarawak, Malaysians society, unimas, university, universiti, Borneo, Malaysia, Sarawak, Kuching, Samarahan, ipta, education, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions: Academic Faculties, Institutes and Centres > Institute of Borneo Studies
Depositing User: Abg Othman
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2020 07:01
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2020 07:02

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