oppression of evangelical Christians and other minorities in the Asian nation.
"Badawi believes that clamping down on the rights of members of the minority religions will prevent ethnic and religious conflict. However, empowering Islamists by accepting their demands will lead to much greater conflict in the future," said Barnabas Fund, a Christian human rights watchdog working especially in Muslim countries.
In a statement monitored by BosNewsLife, Barnabas Fund said that most of Malaysia’s 16 states have laws which prohibit the propagation of other religions amongst Muslims. "Recently Malaysia’s Prime Minister…has called for the remaining four states which do not have these laws to introduce them."
The group said Badawi "regards freedom of religion not as a right that needs to be protected, but rather as a source of conflict. He thinks that the free discussion of non-Islamic religion will provoke the majority and lead to discord."
PRIME MINISTER PRESSURED
The prime minister has also been pressured by Mulsim groups to grant Islamic law a more prominent role in society. "In 2004 Badawi decreed that the Malay language version of the Bible should have "Not for Muslims" printed on the cover and that it should only be distributed in Christian churches and bookshops," Barnabas Funhd recalled.
The debate about the supremacy of Islamic and Secular law and religious freedom comes at a time when a Malaysian woman, whose decision to renounce her Muslim faith and marry a Christian man captured the country’s attention, is in hiding after allegedly receiving threats from Islamic militants.
Lina Joy, 42, reportedly converted from Islam to Christianity eight years ago and since then endured extraordinary hurdles in her desire to marry her Christian fiancé.
RENOUNCING MUSLIM FAITH
Because she renounced her Muslim faith, Malaysia's Islamic Shariah courts, which control matters like marriage, property and divorce, did not have jurisdiction over her, observers said. Yet several civil courts ruled against her.
"Malaysia is at a crossroads and [Prime Minister] Badawi must do everything in his power to ensure that Malaysia takes the path towards becoming a country where human rights are protected," Barnabas Fund said. (With BosNewsLife Research and reports from Malaysia).